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UPDATES AND INFORMATION REGARDING THE DISAFFILIATION DISCERNMENT PROCESS

A Prayer for Discernment

from Marolyn Speer with the Intercessory Prayer Ministry

Prayers for Discernment - August 4
August 4th, 2022
1 Cor 2: 12, “We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand what God has freely given us.”When we affirm our beliefs in the Apostles’ Creed we say,  “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.”The Holy Spirit came to dw...
Prayers for Discernment - July 28
July 28th, 2022
I thought that this would be easy this week; find a scripture passage and write that I BELIEVE IN JESUS! Instead, I’ve looked at a blank page for 3 days and these are my first written words!John 12:44, “Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me."John:14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except thru me....
Prayers for Discernment - July 21
July 21st, 2022
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”(Ps 19:1)“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)Please pray for me! I am struggling with this process of discernment. It’s in my heart and on my mind all the time! I hope you are struggling, too. This is serious busine...
Prayers for Discernment - July 14
July 14th, 2022
“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ear of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15During this period of discernment, a difficult and trying time for FUMC, I hope that you are acquiring and seeking the knowledge to make an educated and informed decision.I pray that we all rely on our faith to keep us strong and grounded. We talk and read so much about us and others and so little abou...
Prayers for Discernment - July 6
July 8th, 2022
As we move further into the discernment process, let us stay in God’s Word. Ps 119:66“Teach me discernment and knowledge.”When the disciples were choosing a replacement for Judas, Acts 1:24 records, “Then they  prayed,’ Lord you know everyone’s heart. Show us...’ “As United Methodist, we share in holding that the Bible is the primary source for Christian belief. Our Book of Discipline states, “In ...

Truth Seekers Task Force

Chair: Rebecca Seyller
Members: Carl Brothers, Chad Powell, Ben and Kyle Nobel, Burt Ragland, Meredith Lovett, Dennis Yelvington,  Eric Seyller, Marolyn Speers, and Kaye Baden

Upcoming Meetings

To be determined

Additional Resources

Tom Lambrecht explains how the United Methodist Church has come to the place where it is now regarding separation.
Members of First United Methodist Church of Jonesboro should vote NO on disaffiliation
An introduction for United Methodists that hits the high points: Why is the denomination splitting? How did we get here? What are the recent developments?   What are options for churches going forward?  
The Rev. Rob Renfroe explains the theological and spiritual issues surrounding the division within The United Methodist Church.
Sermon from Pulaski Heights Methodist Church - May 29, 2022 Traditional Service "Who Has The Final Word" by Dr. John Robbins. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:10-15
UMsConnected is an innovative movement within the United Methodist Church. Based in the Florida and Western North Carolina Annual Conferences of the UMC under the oversight of Bishop Ken Carter, it is a ministry that facilitates Christian spiritual formation in the Wesleyan tradition.  

ARTICLE: Pastor: ‘Why I’m not leaving the United Methodist Church’

Link to article: https://www.al.com/life/2020/02/pastor-why-im-not-leaving-the-united-methodist-church.html

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As the expected vote on a possible split in the United Methodist Church approaches in May at the next meeting of the General Conference, clergy in Alabama have been staking out positions and explaining where they stand.
A group of “traditionally orthodox” conservatives met on Jan. 25 at Clearbranch United Methodist Church in Trussville to talk about what kind of new, post-split denomination they could form.

So far, the plan for a United Methodist split is unofficial, but realistic enough that people are beginning to prepare for a new denomination.

The plan, called the “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation,” was released Jan. 3 and could be voted on at the General Conference in May.

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett has announced that informational gatherings will be held in Huntsville on March 21 and April 4 in Birmingham, where clergy and lay people can gather to talk about issues that will come up when the denomination’s governing body gathers in Minneapolis.

The Rev. Steve West, pastor of Arab First United Methodist Church, has posted the following response to the Clearbranch meeting on his blog and asked that it be shared:

Why I’m not leaving the United Methodist Church

By Steve West

A few weeks ago, hundreds of North Alabama Methodists who consider themselves traditional, orthodox, and conservative met at Clearbranch UMC to talk about splitting from The United Methodist Church. I have had good interactions with the pastors who organized the meeting. They are my colleagues. They are part of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, an organization of 1,500 churches nationwide and about 60 clergy here in North Alabama planning to launch a new denomination a few months from now, once the General Conference in May allows for their gracious exit. I respect their convictions. But I won’t be joining them. Here’s why.

1. I made a promise. My dad is a retired pastor, and he and I agree neither of us will leave The United Methodist Church (until recently, it was beyond my imagination that any of us would consider it). It would dishonor our family history, but there's something even more important at stake. I feel it would disregard the vows I made at ordination. I promised I would be faithful to The United Methodist Church and uphold its discipline. I have done so, even if others haven't, and I am only responsible for my own vows.

I follow the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church even when I get heat for it, gently insisting that all people may participate fully in the ministries, sacraments and programs of the church (yes, that’s in there). I would not perform a same-sex marriage, but I’m passionate about inclusiveness in the church. For me, it’s the way of Jesus, but it’s also about the vows I took. Speaking of vows, I feel leaving The United Methodist Church would be hypocritical when, for over 30 years, I have welcomed members into God’s church by asking them to take a vow to be loyal to The United Methodist Church and support it.

2. This has evolved past social issues to schism. I am a centrist and have varied opinions on issues. The United Methodist Church is not perfect, but diversity of thought is one reason I love it. John Wesley taught Christianity was essentially about love for God and neighbor, growing through the means of grace, and staying connected even when we “agree to disagree” (yes, he coined that phrase). We have made it through divisive issues such as slavery, voting rights, temperance, civil rights and ordaining women. It is the most evenly widespread denomination in the United States, so there will always be cultural issues. But this is a moment where I must decide whether to stay at the table and work it out or not, and to me, that’s the very definition of church. There is no plan on the table that involves telling pastors they have to perform weddings they’re not comfortable with, telling local churches they have to do something inappropriate for their context, or telling conferences that they can’t set standards for ministry. I respect that others may leave The United Methodist Church because of their convictions, but I am staying precisely because of mine. Wesley said that separating “from a body of living Christians with whom we were before united is a grievous breach of the law of love” and hence it “is only when our love grows cold that we can consider separation.”

3. There is too much to be lost. The United Methodist Church is not perfect, but it’s my home. In a romanticized view of starting a new Methodist denomination, one can forget there are so many positive things to be lost by leaving. Together we have created the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the Upper Room, the Walk to Emmaus, the Academy for Spiritual Formation, Africa University, and all sorts of regional treasures like Sumatanga and the Children’s Home. In America, we have started more colleges and universities than any other faith group, and we charter more Scouts than any other denomination. No church is perfect, but there is much to be lost by leaving. I respect those who can’t live with differing practices across the country, but our DNA is connectional, not congregational. Small churches will be the biggest losers if they suddenly have responsibility to recruit their pastor (this is in the proposed Discipline of the new denomination). Promises are being made, of course, but I believe that the DNA of a new denomination that forms over cultural disagreements will end up splitting again over the next one. I honor their decision, and perhaps we will all be able to move forward more freely with bringing people to Christ. But I can’t be a part of leaving.

4. I believe in the authority of the Bible. The debate is incorrectly framed as being about biblical authority, when it is really about culture wars. I hold the Bible in high authority under the lordship of Christ. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit, written by human hands and codified by holy councils. God was in all of it. Wesley didn’t teach fundamentalist ideas such as inerrancy and infallibility. Instead, he taught the importance of interpreting it faithfully through tradition, reason and experience. He said in our Articles of Religion that the Bible contains everything necessary for salvation, but he didn’t say it spells out everything. How do I interpret the Bible over complex issues like acceptance of LGBTQ Christians? The reason we call it the Word of God is because it reveals Christ, whom the Bible calls the Word. So I read the Bible through the lens of Christ, who fulfills the law and confounds the Pharisees. I don’t worship the Bible. I worship Jesus, so to make sense of the Bible, I read it through the person of Christ. He loved every broken person he encountered. The only people he criticized were the Pharisees who had lost sight of love because of religious rules based on their tight interpretation of Scripture. The Bible says God is love, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God, so I believe it.

5. I am traditional and orthodox. The schism is being planned over a set of social issues that are neither discussed in the Gospels nor addressed in the ancient creeds. So it is odd for people of only one viewpoint to exclusively claim the terms “traditional” and “orthodox.” There are indeed moral issues addressed in Scripture we must grapple with. But our Wesleyan tradition is, once again, to interpret Scripture through tradition, reason and experience. I believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection, the humanity and divinity of Christ, the Trinity and the things addressed in orthodoxy. I also follow the tradition of Wesley, who loved to use the saying, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” Jesus didn’t even mention the issues that divide us, but there’s something else that he most definitely did talk about: our unity, for that’s what Jesus prayed for in John 17. I have friends that say they are not leaving the church; the church has left them. I get that, but I honestly find it to be an echo of southern secessionism. The United Methodist Church agrees on what’s essential, and I’m going to stay at the table and work out what’s secondary.

6. I follow Jesus. I keep coming back to the way Jesus treated the woman at the well. He offered her living water, then, after indicating he knew of her past, he took her seriously in discussing the religious issues on her mind. I have noticed what he did NOT say. He gently pointed out that she was committing adultery (that one’s in the Ten Commandments), but he didn’t say, “Oh, now I take back what I said about living water.” Christ’s offer was still good, and then they had a fascinating discussion about faith. So I choose to accept people for who they are and invite them to God’s table for relationship with Christ. God handles the rest.

7. I believe in grace. Do our churches rebuke people who are divorced and remarried, not allowing them to serve in ministry? I’m not saying we should hold remarried people in judgment, not at all. I’m saying that if we offer grace in one situation addressed in Scripture and not in another, it’s clearly not about biblical authority but about culture wars. I can’t be a part of a new movement that insists LGBTQ people can’t be Christians. I know too many that are.

8. I believe in the church. We are the body of Christ, and I don’t have all answers about the future, but leaving the table is out of the question. Our divided culture needs a witness to love that transcends our differences, not giving in to the prevalent “us vs. them” and “either/or” mentality. The biggest criticism Jesus got was that he “ate with sinners.” Who am I to decide that I can’t be in communion with someone I don’t agree with? The only people Jesus didn’t tolerate were the religious elites who were intolerant. I’m not going to be one of them. That’s why I’ll stay UMC. I agree with Pinson United Methodist Church Pastor Joe DeWitte who said, “The UMC continues to discover that our church is big enough (because our God is big enough) to include people who disagree on matters that are not creedal.” Here I stand, I can do no other.

Reflections from a pastor regarding the UMC.

That Time Has Come!
Dr. Bob Haye
Bishop in Residence Woodlands UMC
July 07, 2022

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4: 3-5

For over four generations the roots of Methodism have run deep in the soil of my family. Beginning with my great-grandfather Peter, my grandfather Edward, and my father Robert, the only spiritual home that me and my ancestors have known has been the Methodist Church. As a young boy, to this day I can vividly remember my grandmother “marching” me and my sisters in an orderly cadence on any given Sunday to the Trinity East Methodist Church in Houston, which by the way, is still located on McGowan Street where several generations of Hayes’ have called home.

The influence that this denomination has had upon me and my family is incalculable. It has birthed several ministers, beginning in 1901; Methodist related schools and universities have educated the second and third generation of my extended family; all my secondary learning was obtained at institutions that were begun by the Methodist Church. Marriages, baptisms and celebrations of life have all been conducted in sacred sanctuaries of Methodist churches stretching from deep East Texas to the inner city of Houston since 1929. Simply put, my family has been fed and sustained by the fruit of God’s Word that yielded its bounty to Peter Hayes in a little Methodist church in Mineola, Texas, and it has sustained and nourished us for over one hundred and fifty years.

But now, the tree that bore the fruit is bare. The soil has dried up and there is no shade to shield me from the scorching heat of reality—the reality that my church—the dear Methodist Church I love is now unrecognizable, and is, to say the least, being frayed by groups and entities within the denomination who have refused to follow and uphold the binding laws of the church found in The Book of Discipline, or, to abide by decisions of the Judicial Council (the Supreme Court of the UMC). Currently, there are jurisdictions, conferences, and even bishops who blatantly and openly reject and defy the Constitution of our denomination, its doctrine, general rules, and polity, thereby creating a “do whatever you want attitude,” and, in turn, have created a chaotic and untenable situation. Without rules, structure and laws to govern what is expected of its laity and clergy as we seek to be effective witnesses in the world as part of the whole body of Christ, that body is torn apart. Mere words cannot describe the heartbreak, pain and agony that I (and millions of others) are experiencing, but this one thing I know: God didn’t bring us this far to abandon or forsake us.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his son in ministry, he writes: “A time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.” He goes on to say: “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” My dear friends, that time has come! It’s as if Paul knew that the true body of Christ—the Church—would always and forever be attacked by the disease of self-interest and tossed about by the damaging winds of social change. And true to his prophetic vision, it happened then and is happening now as the modern-day church finds itself once again in the wilderness of our discontent.

But this is nothing new for followers of Jesus. It seems that the Church is constantly engaged in a battle between the way of Christ, and the way of the world. And therein lies the problem: do we follow the Holy Word of God that has been handed down to us for more than two thousand years, or do we change or amend that sacred Word to suit our own self-interest and desires? Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Please hear me well: This is NOT a minor squabble over people having the freedom to choose how they want to live or the lifestyle they prefer. Rather, it is a major conflict that goes to the very heart and soul of who we are as children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ, and how we have made the conscious decision to follow the dictates of God and not be caught up in the ways of the world nor be defined by the world’s values.

When the Apostle Paul established Christian communities from Antioch to Ephesus, and from Athens to Corinth, quite often disputes, conflicts and divisions would arise in those churches. When Paul stepped in to encourage them to embrace and follow the way of Jesus, he was not always met with a warm reception. In one instance in the Corinthian church, Paul was insulted, and his apostolic authority challenged. I can only imagine how many times this happened to him, but because of the transforming call that was given him on the road to Damascus to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, he persevered, and the seeds of Christianity were planted despite opposition and the misrepresentation of what it meant to be followers of Jesus.

Today, there are serious disagreements among Methodists, both theological and ideological, that threaten to undo our understanding of who we are and what we believe. The Social Principles of our denomination that oversee our stance on issues dealing with human sexuality have been broken; deep division exists over the integrity of the Holy Scriptures; and one of the most disconcerting differences rising out of our dysfunctional state is how some are even now questioning the identity of God and the divinity of Jesus. This cannot continue.

In paraphrasing Paul’s words to Timothy, we must: “keep our heads, endure hardship, do the work we’ve been called to do as proclaimers of God’s truth, and discharge the duties of our ministry.” In other words, we, too, must persevere because we have no other choice.

The decisions we make in the coming weeks about how we will respond to the challenges ahead of us will have a profound effect on those who will follow us. But as for me and my house, I will serve the God who has been faithful in all generations, and who works to bring good out of every circumstance.