A Messy Divorce – A Return to ‘My Church Home Left or Right’

This was posted over at the legacy site earlier today. Sorry, some of the Member’s Only links will not work but I put it here for proper documentation:

The reference above is to a post I made back on March 3, 2019. Actually, it wasn’t much of a post…just some links to what I had been reading that Sunday morning about the growing split in the United Methodist Church. (For a more thorough treatment of the topic, see this member post: Is The United Methodist Church fracturing over LGTBQIA?) After posting, I left for the 11:00 service. Upon returning home, I responded to a member comment (“Our minister today gave a very heartfelt message, not obviously taking one side or the other, but basically very sad it has come this this point. …“) with the raw notes of my experience:

Here in North Texas I experienced a similar start this morning but he followed it up directly with: “But our church hurt a lot of people this week.”  There was no doubt about the side he chose. 

There was just enough sprinkled throughout the rest of the service to keep my blood pressure just slightly elevated.  The pastoral prayer was surprisingly benign on the subject but “kids time” marked the easy slide into pure emotionalism (“How would you feel if a group of kids voted to keep you out of their club?”).  From insinuations of ill will to just flat out intellectual dishonesty – “It is ‘They will know we are Christians by our Love’ not ‘They will know we are Christians by who we include and exclude’” – the coordinated effort to blur the real issues was…well, exactly as I’ve grown to expect.

My fear is that the high emotions in many churches are because this hits very close to home.  I suspect many have ignored church policy for quite some time and now have wonderful, loving, friends and colleagues that can/will be affected by this. No doubt it hurts. But…

Again, I would greatly appreciate any information / solid reporting on this issue from neighbors here more knowledgeable than me.  Thanks.

And a considerable amount of such knowledge did come from several member sources. Like this:

Suffice to say, there is much more going on than a clash of views on sexuality, although it is by far the most public forcing function. We are already in schism – the bureaucracy and the institution have yet to be reconciled to this reality. Differences on the role and authority of scripture, the lack of accountability, the occurrences of rebellion of certain bishops and clergy against their ordination vows without consequence, and of course, the liabilities associated with pensions and other financial considerations.

There were no winners, in my view, at this General Conference.  And there is a great more pain to come.

And there is much more in there…I am still (slowly) making my way through the comments.

Before I go on, I will admit here that there is now a misleading word in the title above. Having been a Methodist my entire life…and a “wandering” Methodist (no real “home”) for many years…I would find it hard to consider myself anything but a Methodist. However, truth be told, I largely walked away from this hot mess shortly after the events above. (There were other reasons too.) Up early by myself and drinking coffee on this Easter Sunday morning sent my mind back to the referenced post and today’s crazy America and today’s dangerous world (i.e. four years further down the road on un-seriousness as a people and a country and a much more advanced case of broadly practiced and accepted anti-intellectualism at every level). So much so that the concept of large scale “divorce” is getting more play all of the time.

With that rather long preface, I also admit that I have just started skimming some of the more recent news on the stage 4 schism among the Methodist establishment. It seems to be advancing and rather messy. My impression is that a separation is definitely happening and that one side tends to follow the predetermined rules and the other side feels no such compunction. (And, as with politics at all levels, the ideological make-up of those two sides [is] very, very predictable.)

Again, I am interested in and would greatly appreciate any information / solid reporting on the issues among the Methodist clans from neighbors here more knowledgeable than me. 

Beyond my honest interest in the schism, I am also a constant slave to my own greater agenda and I suspect there are some scalable lessons here to be learned for how other non-conventional divorces among large masses of peoples will play out. Hint: Knowing and studying the playbook used by the forces of anti-intellectualism will provide much benefit in the coming days. 


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UPDATE: I just wanted to add this short passage from my morning reading:

Our divisions are misleadingly reported as mainly about homosexuality. Yes, we have important disagreements over how (not whether) we should genuinely welcome our loved ones who are gay. But as has been well documented, the differences between factions encompass much more.

The “misleadingly reported” part is always part of the playbook.

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