wrote this following last night following first ever Wesleyan Covenant Association Legislative Session. It is my effort to express my feelings about the WCA resolutions including the one about being prepared to form a new denomination, if necessary. I know more progressive colleagues will be frustrated when they read about it. In fact some had seen the statement and urged those of us who would be here not to vote for it.. Push back has already arisen on Twitter with someone calling for all the elders and deacons here at this Conference to be brought up on charges. How do I explain why we are doing what we are doing?
Blessings and peace,
It is nothing new.
We’ve said it plainly.
We’ve said it openly and repeatedly.
We’ve said it over coffee with colleagues and friends.
We’ve said it in person, in interviews and online.
We’ve said it in magazines, academic papers, and books.
We’ve said it in “holy conversations” and “listening sessions”.
We’ve said it online in blogs, tweets and discussion groups.
We’ve said it in our local churches and our annual conferences.
We’ve said it in Cleveland, Fort Worth, Tampa and Portland.
We’ve said it in informal working groups and special commissions.
We’ve said it with tears in our eyes and a lump in our throats.
We’ve said it with fear and trembling.
We’ve said it when it was costly.
If the United Methodist Church changes its definition of marriage from a man and a woman to “two people” millions of us will feel forced to leave. We simply cannot stay in a church that is embracing what we believe to be harmful heresy.
It is a matter of deeply held conviction.
It is born out of our understanding of the Authority of Scripture.
It is rooted in theology of grace, forgiveness, holiness and sanctification.
You see we are responsible for what our church teaches. We can't be complicit in our church spreading what we believe is heresy--even if you promise we can teach what we believe in our own local congregations.
Jesus once said, “…if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.” We take that seriously.
Today we said it again.
Meeting at Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta, Georgia the delegates of the Wesleyan Covenant Association put in place in case General Conference 2019 in St. Louis passes the One Church Plan (or any other plan that changes our definition of marriage). Why take such firm steps including writing a document called “Fundamentals and Principles of a New Methodist Denomination” and assigning a working group? Because with the Council of Bishops doing everything possible to see OCP passed it is a real possibility.
Saying it makes people angry at us.
Some call us homophobic and hateful.
Some call us inflexible--unwilling to compromise.
Some say we are threatening the economic viability of the denomination.
Some say we are schismatic—unnecessarily dividing when Jesus prayed for unity.
Some say we are immature—like children threatening to “take their ball and go home”.
Some simply say we are playing a game of chicken. We won’t really do this.
We’ve never been anything less than sincere.
We are simply trying to live out what it means to confess “Jesus is Lord”.