The United Methodist Church lost a long-time member a couple of weeks ago. He's still going to be active, will still come to worship and be very faithful in a lot of areas of the church.
He just doesn't want to be a member. At least not at the moment.
Here's part of what he said in his letter, shared with his permission:
"I've been reading, listening, and pondering about what's going on within the Methodist Church surrounding the position that has been taken regarding 'we are inclusive but not really.'
"As a result, I've come to the conclusion that I can no longer be a member of an organization that does not reflect my personal belief on whether members of the LGBT etc. community are 'full' members of the church. By 'full' I mean they have the right to become clergy and to be married in a Methodist Church by a Methodist pastor. ...
"This is my protest to the direction the UMC has decided to go at this time. As a protest I'm very aware that it is not going to be a huge thunderclap in the Annual Conference and/or General Conference. Heck, it probably won't even be heard.
"I believe the UMC needs to assess itself as whether it should continue to be a single philosophy world-wide religion or if it should split into conferences that reflect the people that each serves. There are too many cultural differences across the world for a single [denomination] to try to be 'one for all.'"
(Can I just say how much respect and admiration I have for my friend and brother in Christ? And then can I just say how much my heart breaks at how harmful the United Methodist Church has been to so many people for so long?)
There is some thunder that cracks, very loudly, very suddenly. It startles you, makes you jump.
But there is other thunder that starts slow and rumbles, you almost don't hear it at first but it builds slowly and gradually until before you know it the windows are rattling and the sound fills your ears.
The United Methodist Church is experiencing that second kind of thunder. Little by little, one member at a time, the denomination is shaking apart. I have heard Bishop Farr refer to it as "death by a thousand cuts." It will only increase. Soon it will be rattling our windows and shaking the very foundations of our church.
By that time we will be forced to do what we might be able to get ahead of right now, if we have the will to do so. We have to say "no" to the "traditional plan." We have to eliminate discrimination in our church. We have to embrace our rich Wesleyan theology. We have to advocate for goodness, justice, equality, and love.
At the moment "We are inclusive but not really," as he puts it.
And the thunder rolls.
Quo Vadis, Domine?
3 weeks ago