What’s Happening To the Methodist Church? Part 2

First Church Pastor Scott Field explains what might happen at the February international conference in St. Louis.

The United Methodist Church is what is called a “connectional”  church.

For starters, that means all churches follow the same standards.

Secondly, under the current Church Discipline, Crystal Lake Methodist Pastor Scott Field said,

“If I were in a same sex relationship, I would not be allowed to be ordained.”

Standards for clergy are the same all over the world.

The third issue that will probably come to a head in the February St. Louis convention is whether all church property continues to be under the control of the denomination, rather than the local church.

That started with Methodism’s founder John Wesley.

He wanted to make sure that those preaching in his houses of worship were compatible with is understanding of the teachings of Christ.

“If this church should decide to do something that isn’t Methodist, the Bishop could come and change the locks and say, ‘You’re done.'”

The politics of the debate are being played out upon the backdrop of the 2016 convention.

There Conservatives had the votes.

The Progressive side said, “If the Conservatives won they we’re going to leave,” according to Field.

The Bishops concluded they (being on the Progressives’ side) “we’re in trouble,” Field continued.

So, they set up a committee.

That committee came up with three proposals.
In a ” bureaucratic foot dragging,” they set up a committee with representation from both sides and the middle and came up with three options last spring:

  1. Stay traditional
  2. Go Progressive
  3. A connectional plan

The Bishops recommended something they called “One Church.”

It would remove any line in the Discipline that is negative about homosexuality.

But, all the Bishops did not agree with this approach.

And, the judicial branch of the church, which is controlled by conservatives, said, “You’re out of line,” to put it in Field’s words.

The decision ruled that as executive officers, the Bishops did not get to propose legislation.

Advisory rulings were requested on the three proposals.

The One Church Plan was found to  be largely constitutional, except it would undermine the authority of the Bishops.

The Traditional Plan was ruled constitutional, except for a portion that set specific penalties for infractions, such as performing homosexual weddings.

The Connectional Plan, basically a proposal to agree to get along with separate national jurisdictions being set up for

  • Conservatives
  • Progressives
  • Those in the middle

The Court ruled that the Connectional Plan was hypothetical because it requires additional constitutional amendments, so had so many problems that it would not offer an advisory opinion.
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More tomorrow.
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