Dear RMN @rmnetwork

umc logoThis is the press release that I will be referencing throughout this rant.

I have often defended you, even though I disagree with you on the theology of the issue you originate from. I progressed to lumping you with other UMC special interest groups and saying that you were doing more harm than good but that there was room at the table if only you would come and sit down in good faith. I have avoided at all costs labeling this more than a bump in the road that we would get past. I have resisted calling this a fight. You however have finally drawn a line in the sand it seems. You have not just shown an unwillingness to not come to the table, but to leave the room. You have drawn your line in the sand and so now yes, this is a fight. It just isn’t a fight over what you seem to think it is.

This is a fight over my church. No longer is this a theological disagreement that we need to work through and figure out how best to handle. You chose that. This is now a fight over whether or not the money you can generate should trump the BoD of the UMC. You said it should in this press release. Not only are you paying those who have faced discipline for violating church rules and in doing so circumventing the authority of the church, you have also set up a fund to encourage further such acts. That is not an act of justice, it is an act of destruction. Yes RMN if you seek to destroy we will fight. My God is a God of mercy and forgiveness not a God of destruction. His hill is one I will fight for and die on.

This is a fight over whose influence the church will follow. Is it the influence of the power of the Holy Spirit come down at Pentecost as promised by the risen Christ or is it the silver that paid for His death? The tool you have chosen is now money? Really? You would claim the moral high ground and then try to use base greed to peddle influence? Instead of working in good faith with the good people of the UMC you would instead use cash to curry influence and encourage further actions that damage the body? We who are faithful in the UMC are people of God not people of gold. Being people of God is a hill I will fight for and die on.

Finally, and most selfishly, this is a fight over me (and by extension those like me). See you try to pull me in directions with language that I will relate to…inclusion, full ministry, do no harm, etc. You fail however to use the language that I need in my life and journey in faith. You don’t talk about discipline, loyalty, vows and their importance. You speak of love like it is some fluffy feeling in the pit of my stomach without mentioning that it is best reflected in the choice of Christ to die on a cross. There is nothing fluffy about love. You talk about unity and try to convince me that is what you want while all the time working against it. You speak of how conservatives harm denominational unity by not giving up a sincerely belief and then harm denominational unity by encouraging and helping people to break the BoD. You use psychological projections and hope I will not notice. You bring about the best in doublespeak like a politician and then hope that I will blindly follow you like one. You hang pretty banners, have great logos and use flowery language all to disguise that for all your talk of inclusion the message is really if I am not just like you and do not think exactly like you there is no room. This is your most insidious thing really. You prey on my desire for Christian community and genuine companionship with my brothers and sisters and twist it to your political purpose. To prevent you doing that to others…that is a hill I will fight and die on.

You see RMN, I believe that we are one body, warts and all. I believe that which unites us is a shared faith in the risen Christ. I believe that shared faith is best expressed through the Christian church and in my case, the UMC and it’s distinct Wesleyan flavor. I believe that unity is best modeled by the faithful men and women who take the burden and accept the call to pastor. I believe that you are encouraging those same faithful men and women to break their vows or in the case of some of the new candidates for ordination, engage in a process that puts them in the position to either make a vow they can not keep or cause further disunity by creating chaos outside of the orderly process for change that is in place. See RMN, I believe that while you are spouting about unity, your actions are discouraging that same unity. I worry that you are of two minds, and being double minded does not go well for Christians. I worry that in your zeal for your position, you have become zealots for something other than the risen Christ.  You see RMN this is not a fight over same sex marriage or ordination. This is a fight over how you are trying to tear the church apart. I would not dream of asking you to change your position. I do not agree with it, but I would not ask you to change it unless led by the Spirit to do so.  I will however beg you to change your tactics. I will do this for the sake of unity. I will do this because that unity is best reflected in Christ who already decided that was a hill he would, and did fight on…a hill he would and did die on.

 

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16 Replies to “Dear RMN @rmnetwork”

  1. When there is no trial where the Holy Spirit could be invoked and heard (hopefully) but there is “suspension without pay” hasn’t the fight already been reduced to a fight over silver and gold?

    1. I do not see it as such as church trials were shot down as being harmful to the body as well by RMN and other groups. There needs to be some sort of discipline when clergy do not follow the BoD and the trial system has been shot down. It appears to me that RMN is against anything that would apply the rule of BoD as it applies to them and their stated goals.

  2. I agree that church trials are harmful. And. yes, there must be discipline when the BoD (or any denomination’s equivalent) is not followed by ordained ministers. However, I am concerned in my comment that using economic coercion to exercise the power of authority sends the wrong message in a culture that bases so much on financial/economic status.

    1. I am willing to entertain and even go with better ideas if you, or anyone else, has any. I just have not heard any other ideas that seemed as if they would be effective.

      1. I agree that a person not doing their job should not be paid, but that should happen because that person has been properly terminated. Furthermore, when a person in good conscience (whether I agree it is good conscience or not – let God handle that that) can no longer do their job according to the conditions of undertaking that job – ordination requirements in these cases – shouldn’t that person resign and undertake a similar job where her/his good conscience allows?

  3. Church trials are never fun. But they can be helpful. They give the accused a chance to defend their innocence. They give the church an opportunity to investigate breaches of covenant. And it avoids a legal battle outside of the church.

  4. While the Reconciling Ministries Network news release claims that “United Methodists” are behind the group’s efforts to subsidize dissident clergy, that isn’t the whole story. Last year RMN received almost $200,000 from the Arcus Foundation, a secular political activist group, for the express purpose of supporting “clergy who engage in acts of ecclesial disobedience in the name of LGBTQ justice and work with coalitions for policy change within the United Methodist Church.” (See http://www.arcusfoundation.org/grantees/ — the first entry under “R.”)

    And it isn’t just happening “now.” Since 2009, Arcus has contributed $1.3 million to RMN in order to undermine the moral teaching of the UMC. That’s just one secular foundation; there are others.

    Don’t let RMN’s “prophetic” language fool you. Real prophets are willing to live with the outcomes of their actions.

    1. Thank you Karen, I was not aware of money from outside coming in to their organization. I will check all of that out.

  5. Let’s see now. Pastors have families. They need to pay bills. Prisoners in jail have families. They (the family) need to pay bills. I assume no one has a problem with someone donating a free-will offering to a prisoner’s family, since the person is donating his OWN money. You want to tell people what they should or should not donate to? Not like conservatives would ever donate money to the causes they support? This whole thing is a red herring. It is what it is. You cannot control other people’s spending, even if you want to, oh so much. Of course, you could always put the disobedient pastor in jail, like the good-old-days, then they REALLY had effective church trials. Seems like there were some burnings-at-the-stake by Christian church’s trials that were really effective at punishment. By the way, I state my opinion. I won’t debate the point, since I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    1. I won’t debate it either because there are entirely to many false equivalencies in that paragraph for me to even try. I will say that there is nowhere in this that I told any individual what to do or not do with their money, and that in so far as the caucus and outside groups go, I have been equally hard on the conservatives and middle way folks as I have the progressive folks.

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