Pastor’s Article – June 2022 Tower Chimes
If you’re confused by the title of this article, let me clear things up, then I’ll continue.
The UnitedMethodist Church (UMC) came into existence in 1968, when The United Brethren Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church merged to form a new denomination. Four years later, at the first general conference of The UMC, the topic of human sexuality was raised and has been discussed and debated at every general conference since then. At some point, language was added to the Book of Discipline which codified our official position that marriage is between a man and a woman and that The UMC will not ordain self-avowed practicing homosexual persons.
Through the years, this particular issue has become a point of division within The UMC to the point that in 2019, it was pretty much agreed by people on both sides that a split in the denomination was inevitable. A protocol for separation was created and had support from leaders on both sides. This protocol laid out the plan for how local churches could disaffiliate from The UMC and align with the new Methodist denomination. Unfortunately, the general conference vote needed to approve the protocol has not happened on account of the conference being postponed a number of times due to COVID issues.
In the mean time, a new traditionalist-leaning denomination began to take form. They eventually adopted the name The Global Methodist Church(GMC). When general conference was postponed until 2024, the powers that be within The GMC decided they could wait no longer. The GMC officially began on May 1, 2022.
Back to my title, United Methodist or Global Methodist? It’s a question. Will we remain a part of The UMC or will we align with The GMC?
Let me make something very clear: our church does NOT have to make a decision one way or other at this point it time. The fact is, the Protocol has not been adopted. Yes, it’s true that some local churchs and even some annual conferences have made the decision to disaffiliate from The UMC regardless of that fact. But I just want to be very clear that I see no reason to take up this question at this point in time. I imagine a day is coming when we probably will need to discuss it and put it to a vote. But we’re not anywhere near that point.
In the mean time, I’m going to put my energy into helping lead our congregation to live into the mission of all Christian denominations, that of making disciples of Jesus Christ. And here’s the thing: whether we’re First UMC or First GMC, that mission is the same. Changing our name or denominational affiliation doesn’t change our mission one iota. I know that our church family has active, faithful members who come down on both sides of this issue. This is a present reality. And yet, despite these theological differences we still manage to serve and live alongside one another in love and respect. There’s no reason this can’t continue to be the case. Until the time comes for us to make a denominational decision, let’s continue to do what we’ve always done.