No Vote, No Schism — But (federated) forward

federated congregation or fight church
Photo credit: Fight Church Facebook page

There is a poll at the bottom. This is a thought experiment and while not vetted by BoD experts, makes use of current UMC policy and precedent. I have tried to be fair and impartial with my presentation of facts and stances. Sorry for the typos. If you want a PDF/Word version, let me know. Updates to commonly asked questions are at the bottom, under PostScript.

The experience of our present situation is one of distress. There are calls for schism, actions that speak to that, and entire jurisdictions practicing a nullification edict allowed neither in Scripture nor the Book of Discipline. Further, there is now the open rebellion by conservative congregations to withhold apportionments until the Council of Bishops promise to uphold a petition quite unrepresentative of the entire The United Methodist Church, and not in the least because it is not supported by the General Conference. There have been plans and proposals for changes to the Book of Discipline to allow for everything from schism to lifting the Trust Clause to changing the Book of Discipline so that one group may minister towards justice while another ministers towards righteousness, as both groups define it. The effect this has on our ministry, both global and local, is appalling.

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Ways of Reading Genesis 1 (CTP class)

The inspired penman in this history [Genesis] … [wrote] for the Jews first and, calculating his narratives for the infant state of the church, describes things by their outward sensible appearances, and leaves us, by further discoveries of the divine light, to be led into the understanding of the mysteries couched under them. – John Wesley, Notes on the Bible, Genesis 2.8

The Creation
The Creation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To my regular throng of readers, this post may not be for you so much as it is for the class I am leading. This CTP class (critical-theological-practical) focuses on Scripture and how to read it on different levels. We have just started, laying some groundwork first on how to read Scripture (for this class). This post, and maybe more like it, will help to facilitate discussion and provide background to the current chapter or passage under discussion.

The next up is the first creation story as found in Genesis 1–2.4a. At no point should you read this entire passage and be done discussing it within an hour. Why? Because not only do have to decide if this is poetry, myth, literature, history, or science (or a mixture of some or all these modern categories) but then you need to talk about how it sets within the Exilic context. Maybe the sun, moon, and stars are really just luminary bodies and not Babylonian gods. Then you have to talk about what it means when God said “it is good.” Then you get to the Genesis 1.26-27 and so on.

But, to start this we have to really look at the ways of reading the first creation story. I have four posts/articles to share from others. I don’t agree with some of the things in them, but that’s not the point of the class. The point of the class is to help people read Scripture contextually, theologically, and for themselves.

These posts don’t have to be read, but I post them here in case you want to read them:

Some other posts, from your’s truly:

If you are in Charleston, WV at 7am on Thursdays, look us up.

Bill Mefford, the #Pro-Life #UMC, and Grace

English: Lakeville United Methodist Church, th...
English: Lakeville United Methodist Church, the oldest UMC in New England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day, the civil rights director at the Global Board on Church and Society did something stupid. This is not beyond ordinary for the GBCS, as they, as routine as Monday is to the first day of the week, do stupid things. He went to the March for Life rally, wrote a sign, too a picture, and posted in twitter. The usual sources picked up on it and went bananas.  What is not usually noted is that Bill issued an apology. Since his blog is by access only now, and his twitter account deleted, I have decided to repost it via Google cache:

It seems my picture of me holding a sign that said “I March for Sandwiches” has been taken entirely out of context and has caused quite a stir among some in the Twitter and social media world. I tend to hate general apologies – when people say they are sorry for “whatever they may have done that offended people.” I don’t think those are very sincere.

I also want to say that when I was at the event holding my sign I received nothing but laughter and cheers. Making folks laugh was my sole intent – it really was! It was afterward when this started making the rounds on social media that the hurt and anger began to rise. I understand why people are angry.

So, I am deeply sorry for the hurt and anger that this has caused people since the event. I honestly love to make people laugh and think, and the hurt and anger that people are feeling is not something I enjoy. At all.

I hope you will accept this if you are one of those who are offended. I would prefer to talk face to face, or to message somehow. I honestly believe that is how true reconciliation happens and I am more interested in that than in general apologies which might or might not be sincere. So, please reach out to me if you prefer that too. Maybe we can all be strengthened through this.

If you only want to hammer me, go ahead. Hey, it’s only Twitter.

I am committed to making a better world. And a funnier world. And that is why I post this now.

In a comment on this post, Bill writes,

Context matters so I will explain, I saw the march and was, as usual, impressed with the turnout and the good nature of the crowd. I then saw pro-choice marchers and marching and there was an instant change of the mood when they came into contact. In that context of anger between the two sides that I wanted to be funny. I actually talked to folks in the crowd and there was genuine laughter between me and the crowd while I was there. The anger and hurt have come later and for that I am truly sorry. I hope that helps.

Likewise, Bill Mefford’s boss, issued an apology.

This hasn’t stopped anyone from demanding Bill’s head, consequences, or even firing. Further, you now have Red State, that great bastion of right wing intellectual virtue, wading in, declaring the the UMC is pro-abortion.

I reached out to Bill during this fiasco yesterday to tell him he is in my prayers. Don’t get me wrong, I think the entire thing was stupid on his part. But, I also think we should take him at this word, that this was a poorly judged attempt at humor. Further, has asked forgiveness, said he was sorry, and acknowledged the hurt he has caused. As a Christian who proclaims that the man who said that we must forgive 70*7 is the same man who said, without anyone asking him to, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” is the same man Bill and I both declare is Lord.

If someone asks forgiveness, then give it to them.

Before one actually assumes The United Methodist Church is “pro-abortion” you need to read two statements. The first one is by Stephen Fife. The other one is the official stance of the UMC. Not only does the UMC reject late term abortions, but:

We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers. We support parental, guardian, or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics.

See also here.

If you browse the right wing sources, you will see all manner of diatribes against the pro-abortion UMC. Yet, our governing documents does not support this. What they want is an anti-abortion stance, even if the life of the mother is at stake. What they fail to realize is that virulent anti-abortionism among Protestants is something relatively new.

We need to be better than we are. Human dignity, I believe, begins at conception but does not end at sin or stupidity. What Bill did was stupid, but he apologized. Ask yourselves: if you were stupid, but asked forgiveness, wouldn’t you want it?

The Red State blogger who is attempting to lie about Bill and the UMC has since blocked several of us on Twitter. As such, I’m including a picture of the tweet mentioned above:

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the Liturgy… lex orandi, lex credendi

Saint John on Patmos
Saint John on Patmos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Liturgy is at the same time the Kingdom of Heaven and our dwelling place, “a new Heaven and a new earth”, the point of convergence where all things find true meaning.

The Liturgy not only teaches us to broaden our horizon and our vision, to speak the language of love and communion, but also to learn how to live in love for one another, notwithstanding our differences and even our divisions.

The whole world is included in this great embrace, the communion of saints and all God’s cre­ation. The entire universe becomes “Cosmic Liturgy”, to cite the teaching of St Maximus the Confessor. Such a Liturgy can never become old or antiquated. – Patriarch Bartholomew, 2006 (when Pope Benedict visited him).

For all time’s sake: John Piper’s latest tweet stupidity

He pulled it down, but you know what… he’s still the south end of a northbound horse.

John Piper Rape Tweet

Since he took the tweet down, I decided to leave the tweet before and after to show where it was.



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