Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

General Conference 2019 – Part 3

2 Timothy 3:16–17

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God  may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Scripture is the base of our understanding of God. It is often where those who differ in their understanding of God depart from one another. Scriptural authority is often the real issue when presenting issues surface. In the United Methodist Church today – the presenting issue is the nature of human sexuality. The real issue – can the Scriptures be believed and held as authoritative in our lives today.

For the next few days I will include articles written by some leaders in the United Methodist Church concerning the upcoming special General Conference of 2019 (#GC2019). Now that our Annual Conference is over – I want to make sure our readers are informed about the upcoming #GC2019. You can return and read the previous posts here and here.

Today I include an article written by Maxie Dunnam as he writes about the Way Forward and gives us insights into the upcoming General Conference 2019. His article is found on the Confessing Movement’s page which is located at The Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church. You can read his article in it’s entirety here if you wish to respond to it directly. I include parts of his article below. You can respond on this blog page if you wish as well.

Maxie shares in his article how The Way Forward was created in 2016 at General Conference. A group of leaders had asked the Bishops to show leadership and this was their effort to show such leadership. Instead of holding the church and other Bishops and pastors accountable – they created a commission to study a way forward for our denomination surrounding the issue of human sexuality.

Maxie writes –

The way the leadership of the COB has followed up on the “use” of the Commission’s report undergirds the fact that their action was an expression of fear and prevented the will of the General Conference to be expressed. Until challenged, and diverted by decision of the Judicial Council, Episcopal leaders have sought to restrict the action of the General Conference by bringing only one of three plans brought to them by the Commission to the General Conference and contending that no other plan could be considered.

Maxie quotes the author of yesterday’s highlighted article –

The called “special session of the General Conference” in February, 2019, will be historic, the most significant event in our United Methodist History. Two of the denomination’s most experienced jurists, William Lawrence and Sally Askew, in a recent scholarly article, said,  “Not only is the denomination on the verge of choosing whether it remains institutionally united; it is also on the verge of deciding whether a connectional church that is built with a constitutional polity is viable for ecclesiastical life anymore.”

Maxie also writes about the place some pastors and bishops have placed our denomination –

I believe Scott Kisker has rightly described General Conference as “catholic”, that is, representing the whole of United Methodism, including proportional participation from global United Methodism. It seeks to reflect the “sense of the faithful” in that it balances clergy and lay participation. How can we think that that is not the setting where issues related to human sexuality and marriage are to be decided? Aren’t we in our current “on the verge of painful division” situation because bishops and other clergy started deciding they could pick and choose when and how to abide by our current stance on sexuality in relation to ordination and marriage?

Maxie quotes some statistics and asks some important questions –

But also from another perspective. The total professing membership of our church is 12,557,214. That’s up from the denomination’s estimated 12.4 million members in 2013, the last time the secretary of the General Conference calculated delegations.

That means the 2020 General Conference will have 862 delegates — half clergy and half lay. Of those delegates 55.9 percent will be from the U.S., 32 percent from Africa, 6 percent from the Philippines, 4.6 percent from Europe and the remainder from Concordat churches.

Our Movement is growing rapidly in Africa. It won’t be long before our UM membership in Africa will equal that in the US. Africa is among the least accepting of homosexual practice of all the countries in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, at least nine-in-ten in Nigeria (98%), Senegal (96%), Ghana (96%), Uganda (96%) and Kenya (90%) believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society. Even in South Africa where, unlike in many other African countries, homosexual acts are legal and discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional, 61% say homosexuality should not be accepted by society, while just 32% say it should be accepted.

Maxie’s conclusion is here (read the whole article here) –

We dare not “backslide” now. From our beginning, the Methodist movement has always been counter-cultural. A few years after our founding, we had become the largest church in this country. We did not do that by adapting to culture, but by making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world…going to the people, staying faithful to Scripture and preaching the Gospel boldly; planting new faith communities, doing justice and loving mercy. We are uniquely positioned as a part of world Christian family, stewards of a great trust which we must not betray.

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

June 7, 2018 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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