Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist elder, and member of the ‘The Commission On The Way Forward’ has provided information on their second meeting. Here is a link to the complete article.
One particular section of his meeting update came from church historian Russell Richey:
We also heard from church historian Russell Richey, who described for us the history of separation and disunity in the Methodist Church from its founding. According to Richey, in every decade from 1780 to 1890 the church experienced a structural separation or division of some kind. Each one led to increased growth and vitality in the separate bodies (for the most part), rather than leading to decline. From 1890 on, however, the emphasis shifted to church unity, with two major mergers. Division within the church did not end during those years, but was expressed through the formation of caucuses and other interest groups advocating for a point of view within the church, rather than some form of structural separation. The inward focus of mergers and in-fighting, however, has led to continual decline since the 1960s.
Carolyn Moore wrote a good article summarizing the 5 key points as put forth by the Wesleyan Covenant Association.
She writes, ‘The obvious fact is that the UMC is in crisis but we all know that for imaginative people, a crisis is an opportunity in disguise. What opportunity does this crisis provide our faith tradition? What kind of renewal could rise from the ashes? If the UMC is heading for a significant change anyway (and it is), what would we want to emerge on the other side?’
Here is a link to her complete article.
Retired Bishop Michael Coyner, from Indiana, has written a 10 point article titles ‘Before we seek ‘A Way Forward’…We should remember how we got here’. Here is a link to the complete article.
This article briefly covers Bishop Coyner’s reasons for growth trends, splits & unity, moving from mobile clerics to settled privileged educators, and a lack of clear mission.
His item #10, We have allowed, and some leaders (including some bishops) have encouraged, loyalties to various constituencies and caucus groups to supersede loyalty to the UMC and faithfulness to Christ, is the most telling of all the points. No organization will survive without clear and focused leadership, and the United Methodist Church has no clear focused leadership.
The United Methodist News Service’s article about the Asbury United Methodist Church west campus voting to withdraw from the Asbury Church in Wichita, the Great Plains Conference and the United Methodist denomination is quite interesting, but it does not, unfortunately, provide clear reasons for the separation. Here is the complete article.
Heather Hahn, from the United Methodist News Service, wrote a excellent article titled Scholars raise doubts about church’s future!. Here is a link to the complete article.
Heather’s article focused on a meeting, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, titled Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.
The meeting brought together scholars from across the theological spectrum, from three countries, and included 8 members from the United Methodist Commission on the Way Forward.
The article covered the topic of human sexuality from several different angles, but one particular comment was particularly telling,
‘The Rev. Christopher H. Evans, professor of History of Christianity and Methodist Studies at Boston University School of Theology, told the group that they were dealing with questions he had heard since his seminary days in the 1980s.’
Transforming Congregations just posted an interesting article that covers several topics: Glitter Ash Wednesday, Sexual Fluidity, and extending God’s love to those in search of His salvation.
Here is the complete Transforming Congregation article.