Final week, we published a guest weblog post outlining the factors why these in search of LGBTQ inclusion in The United Methodist Church need to “Leave” and get started their personal denomination. You can study it right here.
This week we appear at the other side of the coin: the “Stay” movement that encourages United Methodists to keep in the Church and continue to resist the unjust laws, in search of to save the sinsick denomination from itself.
Study on for a feasible path forward with integrity and numerical viability.
By the numbers, hope appears dim
The 2019 Basic Conference and forecasted demographic alterations for 2020 and beyond indicate that the Basic Conference majority may possibly be irrevocably opposed to straight assistance LGBTQ inclusion.
In 2019, it is believed that a minority of 2019 delegates from The United States (someplace among 25-33%) combined with practically the totality of delegates from the African Central Conferences and some Eastern European conferences to develop a 53-55% majority vote on matters ahead of the 2019 Basic Conference. Though we do not know how delegates voted specifically, this conclusion is supported by correlating delegations’ presumed assistance of the Standard Program with the reported voting aggregates against constitutional amendments 1 and two in 2017.
Continued distribution of votes in this way will imply that even if only 20% of United States delegates in 2020 oppose LGBTQ inclusion, that will be adequate to combine with the conservative votes in the Central Conferences to defeat any efforts toward LGBTQ inclusion. In 2020, only 100 U.S. delegates would be required to oppose any efforts towards LGBTQ inclusion. For reference, the Southern Jurisdictions (although not uniformly conservative) have 284 votes combined in 2020.
The math is sobering. A single can see how the culturally conservative regions have reached the tipping point as far as controlling a widening majority of votes at Basic Conference relating to LGBTQ inclusion.
So if LGBTQ inclusion is not achievable at Basic Conference, if the blanket ban on partnered LGBTQ clergy and celebrations of these marriages will be indefinitely upheld, what hope is there for progressives in The United Methodist Church?
In the secular globe of public policy, when some thing threatens people’s lives and stopping it is pretty much not possible, public policy shifts from eradication of harm to reduction of harm.
- Seat belts do not quit auto accidents from claiming lives, but requiring their use does cut down the prices of fatalities from auto accidents.
- Filters on cigarettes do not quit cancer, but requiring their use does cut down the price of carcinogens becoming inhaled.
- Condoms do not quit all sexually-transmitted illnesses but encouraging their use does cut down the transmission price of some, top to much more probabilities for folks to make much better options.
- Protected injection websites do not quit folks from employing opioids, but encouraging their use does cut down the harm from dirty needles and overdoses, top to much more probabilities to come clean.
In all these circumstances of public overall health emergencies, the efforts towards harm reduction have saved lives and enabled folks to reside longer so that they can much better overcome their affliction later in life.
Likewise, Homophobia is an epidemic in The United Methodist Church that drives folks to suicide and death, and renders teens homeless. Though the perfect is to quit folks from employing this dangerous theology and to vote it out of our polity, the math in the preceding section turns this spiritual overall health emergency into a somewhat unwinnable situation.
Though a great deal of the rhetoric is that we will have to Exit, the following essay shows that these who seek to Stay can shift their tactic successfully to harm reduction. Resistance to the Standard Plan’s promulgation and additional institutionalization of homophobia can take the type of secure harbor conferences and jurisdictions, which are in a position to band with each other to nullify the most egregious elements of United Methodist polity.
Meet Enhanced Accountability With Enhanced Biblical Obedience
In our present scenario, when advocates for LGBTQ inclusion do not seem most likely to have a voting majority once again, our greatest point of leverage is the disruption and devastation that would be brought on by an open and widespread revolt in The United Methodist Church. Pastors, churches, conferences, and jurisdictions have been declaring they will not abide by the existing disciplinary restrictions. Though several letters appear to be in the “separate” milieu, there’s tremendous worth in sustaining the open revolt as component of a “remain” campaign.
Turning open letters into actual practices would need the actions of much more than just our LGBTQ siblings and their closest allies to be powerful. It would take all of us.
If adequate of United Methodism developed adequate tension, the economic and public image issues by these who care about the Institution could merit either a much more equitable governance structure (such as a US Central Conference) or much more lenient exit ramps for nearby churches and annual conferences to develop a new type of Methodism. For instance, if the western and northern jurisdictions pledged with each other, quickly two.five million United Methodists would reside into Methodism with out the Standard Program.
The implications for persons, churches, and connectional entities would differ extensively, and it is uncertain the degree to which they could or would be punished for their activities. Some inclusive Methodists will come across themselves trapped in traditionalist strongholds and vice versa. We will see clergy kicked out of their appointments and parsonages, church doors possibly chained shut, and incalculable harm
Widespread acts of biblical obedience would require to be taken to the subsequent level by securing written commitments by episcopal leadership to not enforce disciplinary prohibitions and provisions against LGBTQ inclusion. Exactly where such commitments could be secured outdoors secure zones like the West by bishops equally troubled to come across themselves in Traditionalist denomination, they need to be. This would supply the vital stress to continue the 2012 campaign of biblical obedience inaugurated by retired Western Jurisdiction Bishop Melvin Talbert.
But wouldn’t this work be a flash in a pan? Certainly 2020 would be in a position to additional legislate harm, correct? Properly, no. It turns out that the Discipline has two safeguards constructed in, and they are presently beyond the energy even of the existing majority point of view to get rid of.
The two/three Majority Protection Against Worldwide LGBTQ Exclusion
What the traditionalist majority at Basic Conference does not have is the potential to transform the Constitution. A 67% threshold is out of attain of any majority or minority point of view at the moment, and even with demographic shifts, it will be protected for at least the subsequent 12-20 years.
What that implies is that advocates for LGBTQ inclusion are in a position to keep the following bulwarks located in the Constitution against the increasing tide of institutionalized homophobia for years to come.
- The Constitution protects the boundaries and powers of Jurisdictions. Regions handle their personal accountability structures and processes, and no matter how a great deal the Standard Program tightens its grip, the much more jurisdictions will slip by means of its fingers.
- For our episcopal leaders, to actively resist unjust laws comes with a price tag of complaints against their leadership. Commonly, such complaints are handled by Jurisdictional structures, but one particular of the 2017 constitutional amendments enables the complete Council of Bishops to overrule disciplinary proceedings against bishops by the colleges by a two/three vote. But the math is nevertheless on the progressive’s side as northern and western episcopal leaders can combine their “no” votes to avert a two/three majority of the Council of Bishops from overruling their regional colleges of bishops.
Solidarity with one particular one more will preserve Wesleyan Accountability in the jurisdictions exactly where they have resided considering the fact that The UMC’s creation. It will take a extended time for the Traditionalists to acquire a two/three majority in The United Methodist Church to violate this core principle. This implies that the secure harbor jurisdictions are cost-free to practice Methodism with out the Standard Program for several years nevertheless to come. Who knows what alterations could possibly be wrought in the future that a swift exit would deny us the opportunity to grasp?
The outrage on the Traditionalist side has threatened to tear them apart simply because The United Methodist Church can’t ascribe major-down accountability that is not Wesleyan. By outlasting their patience, we can type a much better future together…or apart.
But it comes with a price, and not just to our LGBTQ siblings who continue to serve and reside in an unjust church. Though such a widespread action would permit the western and northern jurisdictions to nullify the Standard Program in their regions, it is unfortunate that there is presently no way to cut down harm to LGBTQ-inclusive churches and pastors in the southern jurisdictions and central conferences. Such churches would continue to be vulnerable till alterations could be created at the 2020 Basic Conference. The only resolution that tends to make sense is for our Council of Bishops to pledge a moratorium on prosecution of LGBTQ inclusion till 2021.
It is also unfortunate that the Resistance tactic depends on the Bishops and these that surround them. The Bishops have failed us several instances. A single could effortlessly claim that their selection to not make the really hard leadership option in Chicago to send only one particular strategy was the death knell of Basic Conference 2019. Since they refused to pick, the denomination was left unprotected against the spiritual emergency of homophobia and worry.
A preceding writer on this weblog referred to The UMC as Humpty Dumpty, stating “all the King’s horses and all the king’s guys couldn’t place Humpty Dumpty back with each other once again.” It struck me that our remedy to our brokenness is not from the major-down (“the king’s men”) but from the bottom up. If we pledge as many regions, leaders, Cabinets, Pastors who would serve on trial courts, laity who give to nearby congregations, and all of us banded with each other to cut down harm, carve out named untouchable jurisdictions, and come across methods to assistance inclusive churches in risky ministry contexts in 2020.
Endgame: Is It Worth It?
All of this will perform only if you think that United Methodism is worth
inan Age that celebrates the crumbling of institutions that our institutions of hospitals, seminaries, mission outposts, and more than 35,000 churches are useful.
- That cutting in thirds the biggest American denomination that ordains ladies would be a step backward for half the sky.
- That minimizing the mega-powerful United Methodist Women’s ministries and circles would be devastating to our missional nature.
- That defunding the ethnic ministry and outreach efforts would be a step backward.
- That ceasing the church tithe (apportionment) to develop shared mission ambitions, undertaking much more with each other than we could apart, would be devastating to our worldwide church and our nearby ones.
- That walking away from a denomination exactly where 47% could see a shared future with each other with LGBTQ inclusion…that could possibly be also close and also several folks to stroll away from.
Then Stay. Outlast. Till this horror show is previous.
My objective in writing this write-up is to show that each Stay and Exit are genuine positions for United Methodists to hold at this time. That we are not all in one particular camp, as this blogger himself waffles among them. Hacking Christianity will continue to be a resource for each paths as we discern our future together…or apart.
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Author’s Note: Some sections initially appeared in a jointly-crafted whitepaper presented to the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Group meeting in March 2019.