Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Will We Agree – Split – Or Agree To Disagree?

1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

This week we will join together for our Annual Conference as members of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference (BWC). We will meet in Baltimore. There will be many things we agree upon and some issues that we will disagree on for sure. I will be clinging to today’s passage as we debate those things where we disagree. Will we agree – split – or agree to disagree?

A specially called General Conference will convene in February of 2019 – a year before the next regular General Conference in 2020 – to deal with one area of disagreement. For decades the United Methodist Church has had disagreements in the area of Biblical authority – especially when it comes to the area of human sexuality. What does the Bible say about human sexuality and how authoritative are those statements is at the heart of our disagreement? Will we agree – split – or agree to disagree?

In the 2016 Book of Discipline (the rule book of our denomination) we can find the following dealing with the subject of human sexuality.

Marriage – We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. (Social Principles: The Nurturing Community)

Human Sexuality – Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. (Social Principles: The Nurturing Community)

The Ministry of the Ordained – ¶ 304.3: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.

¶ 341.6: Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.

There are more statements in our Discipline where some disagree – these are just a few. These are some of the primary areas of disagreement that the specially called General Conference in 2019 will address.

This week – our clergy will be pitted against one another in a discussion and vote that has been forced upon us by our Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM). The BOOM has decided to disregard the Book of Discipline and Judicial rulings dealing with ordination. The Discipline is quoted above and here is the basic understanding of a recent Judicial ruling –  United Methodist boards of ordained ministry must look at all qualifications to determine whether a ministerial candidate is a fitting applicant — including adherence to the church’s position on homosexuality. Report on Judicial Ruling

The local BOOM of the BWC has purposely ignored the Discipline and the Judicial Council and has moved two candidates forward for ordination who are openly living in same-sex marriages. This is contrary to the Discipline – the Judicial Council – and the Bible of course. It is an area that has embattled the church for over 40 years. It may bring us to schism – to a breaking of the denomination. Will we agree – split – or agree to disagree?

I wonder how Paul would have reacted to this dilemma? I’m sure he thought that Christians would/could agree on most subjects when he encouraged us by writing – 1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

There seems to be some areas of faith and doctrine where we cannot agree. Maybe that is why there are so many denominations within the Christian Church. Maybe that is why some denominations split or break apart. It isn’t the best witness to an unsaved world for sure – yet there are Christians on both sides of most issues. Will we agree – split – or agree to disagree?

Please pray for your pastors and our lay delegates/members to Annual Conference this week. The conference will be held Wednesday through Friday. The big vote on the BOOM report will be on Wednesday afternoon beginning at 1:30 pm. Prayer warriors – pray we will remain faithful to God’s Word and the Discipline of our church. Will we agree – split – or agree to disagree?

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.


May 29, 2018 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Well thought out and well worded Ray. How can a house divided stand? How can people who vowed to uphold the doctrine and discipline of the church intentionally violate their sacred oath and call it the will of God?
    This so hard. I love the UMC, but I couldn’t continue in the charade.
    1st Peter talks about obeying the authorities (our Discipline contains the decisions and direction of the authorities).
    Of the 7 things God hates (Proverbs 6), the 7 th is one who sows division among the brethren.
    Is all of this wrangling a sign to us that the prince of the power of the air has infiltrated the authorities? The church?

    Is it time to go with Paul’s word in 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18.
    Is it perhaps God’s way of doing a new thing?
    A death must necessarily precede a resurrection. I find that there is more effort expended in preserving the denomination than there is in reaching lost souls and making disciples .
    Just my thought. Love you brother. You’re doing good work in Laurel.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Dennis Whitmore | May 30, 2018 | Reply

    • Thank you my friend. We’re meeting again tonight to vote on things. Keep the prayers coming.


      Comment by raymcdonald | May 30, 2018 | Reply

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