Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 7th, 2015 by Joel Watts

A better way forward… A Covenantal Unity Plan

umc logo

If The United Methodist Church is to remain one denomination, it will be necessary for us to decide together that our teachings, policies, and decision-making processes really do matter. If we cannot affirm this, then we may be a loose confederation of churches, but we do not constitute a church. Any denomination needs to be “United” by more than an uneasy compromise between rival groups with incompatible views. Authentic unity must be grounded in doctrine, discipline, and Kingdom-centered mission. Anything less is cheap ecclesiology, which values unity above theological substance. Genuine unity in our denomination cannot be simply an uneasy détente. We long for unity that is authentic and missionally grounded, and therefore must go beyond unity of ‘discipline.’

You can find the full preamble here.

There are changes to the “Just Resolution” process, revising to the process of charging a bishop, mandatory penalties for violation of 2702.1(b) (I think there should be mandatory penalties for all chargeable offenses), and more, including this one:

A covenant enforced only by legal strictures cannot have the moral force or spiritual cohesiveness required for true unity in Christ or the church. Our covenant must not be enforced only by trust clauses and pension programs, but by a willingness to walk together and live by the covenant in agreement and disagreement. Different parts of our church have grown in two directions. Some can no longer in good conscience uphold parts of our covenant. The Church, as an act of grace, needs to value the deep convictions of our people and provide an honorable way for congregations which cannot uphold our covenant to disaffiliate without the loss of property in order to continue in ministry in ways consistent with their conscience.

There is also a space to endorse it.

From Beth Ann Cook:

1) Why CUP Name? At the 2004 General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh demonstrators shattered a communion chalice protesting the exclusion of persons from practicing LGBTQ ministry and marriage to same gender persons in the UMC. A dozen years later, as we gather in Portland, Oregon for General Conference did broken cup remains a powerful reminder of the widening fissure in the United Methodist Church. We need to restore our clergy covenant. We believe people can advocate for change but did not include disobeying our clergy does vows.

2) Can people in the pews endorse it as well as clergy? Yes! If you are a lay person where it says “Church or organization affiliation” just type in members, ____________ United Methodist Church.

3) Will this make a real difference? The plan as 6 petitions to # gc2016. The most significant in my opinion is # 3 Which moves responsibility for holding accountable Bishop out of the College (regional body) of Bishops. Bishop Talbert acted with impunity in performing a marriage ceremony in another Bishop Gay’s Episcopal Area Because his Western Jurisdiction episcopal colleagues had already Agreed not to give him any kind of significant penalty for doing that.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

8 Responses to “A better way forward… A Covenantal Unity Plan”
  1. Not a big deal, but I find it interesting that going to their “Home”, there is absolutely no information about who these people are, who is responsible for organizing this, but at the same time…they want specific names, organizations, etc, on the people that voluntarily provide their information to endorse this. Isn’t this rather strange? If the people that originated this, want specific information about endorsors, isn’t it reasonable to find out who exactly originated this effort? Or do they want to remain anonymous for some strange reason?

    • Just to reinforce, data requested to endorse, with absolutely no information on who is organizing the effort:
      Full Name:*
      E-mail:*
      Church or Organization Affiliation:
      Annual Conference:*
      Address:*
      CityState (type N/A in outside United States)Country

      I almost would object, just from a spamming point of view.

  2. I’m confused. Joel, are you reporting here on the efforts of others? Or is this plan your individual initiative? Or a group’s? I wouldn’t give my email address to an anonymous effort. If you have more info, please share. Asking because it was reported elsewhere that this plan first appeared here on your website. Thanks in advance for a response.

  3. Brian Vinson says

    Question: I am an Elder in full connection in West Ohio. However, I am serving an extension appointment with Global Ministries in Zambia, where I am pastoring a local church. Which should I include in my endorsement?

  4. From the CUP site:

    “The Covenantal Unity Plan (CUP) is a revision and further development of the Arnold and Watson plan. Jeff Greenway and Greg Stover (Elders in the West Ohio Annual Conference) led the development process in consultation with other leaders. Jeff Greenway is Senior Pastor of Reynoldsburg UMC, in Columbus, Ohio. Greg Stover is Senior Pastor of Armstrong Chapel UMC in Cincinnati, Ohio. Some of the proposals evolved from suggestions made in a blog post by Bill Arnold and David Watson in July 2014 entitled Some Suggestions for a Unified UMC (or the A & W Plan). The suggestions were presented not as proposals to resolve all our differences regarding same-sex practice, but directions intended to preserve the unity of the UMC. Other proposals from the blog post were not included in this plan. Yet other proposals in the CU Plan were developed after conversation with a number of leaders.”

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