April 3, 2014

Request for Help and Information about UMC Spilt

Friends, sometimes it is hard to really know what is going on in our United Methodist Church. Where I sit, I'm hearing rumors about a UMC split over the issues related to homosexuality. But in my local church, no one is talking about this at all. So I'm trying to find out just how prevalent conversations about a split actually are in local congregations. Do local churches really care? Is this just a general church issue, a clergy issue, a lay issue, a regional issue, or what?

Are these rumors like the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus talks about in Matthew 16:8-13?

Frankly, if we split, it will be like us shooting ourselves in the foot. How will we support our missionaries and UMCOR? We will dilute our witness and weaken our effectiveness. As United Methodists we should be experienced at reconciling divisions rather than promoting them. All congregations have disagreements, but they remain one church. We are a body of believers who, in my experience, represent a range of beliefs on most everything. We may want to agree on the essentials, but sometimes even that is impossible. There was a much-loved Sunday school teacher in one of our former congregations. In her heart of hearts, she believed in double predestination. In this, she was a Calvinist through and through, but she was a member of The United Methodist Church. Because beside her belief about God’s sovereignty, resided another—God’s gracious and extravagant love for us and God’s intent that we love and serve unselfishly. But given a UM theology litmus test, most likely she would fail. Does your congregation have people like this?

The real question is whether or not we, as a church, will succumb to letting our own human sin and frailties divide us. How sad would it be if we split only because of what we believe about ourselves and human nature. But first, it this even on the radar in your local church?

Grace, Kathy 

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