Will the #UMC Take the Bait or Seize the Moment?

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Energy Narratives

It is awful ideal now to be a progressive or an LGBTQ-inclusive conservative or moderate in The United Methodist Church. Not only do we have to clarify we are “Not These Methodists” to a extra inclusive secular planet, but we also have to endure the gloating and crocodile tears of the Traditionalists inside the church.

The language from the Traditionalist wing of The United Methodist Church is: we won, you lost, now get out.

“This is our church now, here’s the door.”

All of these items are triggers for me as a progressive that lead me down the emotional rollercoasters till I just want to rage-quit anything.

And then soon after that moment passes, I have to ask…is this truly me? Or are my feelings getting manipulated by people today skilled in advertising savvy?

Let’s step back and appear at the information.

A Manufactured Moment

Because “amicable separation” was initial discussed by Common Conference in 2004, Traditionalists inside the conservative wing of United Methodism have sought to exit United Methodism. We now know that soon after the 2004 Common Conference, a method document revealed the profound distaste they felt at basically leaving simply because:

“It might need some congregations to leave their house behind (even though 1 hopes a huge sufficient crucial mass of these departing could operate about this dilemma). It also leaves the United Methodist denomination somewhat intact, with the accumulation of sources to potentially continue for decades on a progressively revisionist track.”

To leave the UMC intact is so offensive to this group that leaving was not enough—they would rather it be destroyed.

So due to the fact 2004, efforts had to be produced to get the progressives to be the ones who left, to leave the denomination in the hands of the Traditionalist minority. That is the ultimate purpose of the Traditionalists.

But how would they do it? How would they set the trap and encourage progressives to take the bait and leave?

The Standard Plan’s Pyrrhic Victory

The Standard Plan’s objective was to set the pH balance of the Methodist pool to such a level that it was dangerous and hurtful to progressives and LGBTQ-inclusive evangelicals that they would leave. They would do that via the drumbeat of ever-constricting polity, and when the moment was ideal, set the bait out so that progressives would leave.

This appears to be that moment. So why are not progressives leaving ideal away?

What occurred is that the Common Conference 2019 (particularly the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters) killed the exit provision of the Standard Strategy, which it itself claimed was the “heart of the Standard Strategy.” It meant that churches, pastors, and whole annual conferences could not be exited by Church or self-choose to exit. The stick and carrot strategy would be the capstone to just about 15 years of method to ultimately get us to leave. And then it was struck down and will not be possibly brought back by the Judicial Council in April (it is not even getting regarded as by them).

So all of this frenzy is developing up simply because they lost the exit ramp they wanted for progressives to leave. And the progressives are not leaving but simply because the exit ramp is the exact same terrible 1 that conservatives have chaffed beneath for years exactly where they would have to give a lot of dollars and house to leave, even in a friendly annual conference.

In summary, the objective of the Standard Strategy was to set the pH of the Methodist pool to levels unacceptable to progressives and inclusive evangelicals. It is functioning and progressives are taking the bait. But there’s no outlet but, so for the subsequent year, we sit in the Imply Time of United Methodism.

So how are progressives to respond rather than wading in this toxic pool?

The vote spread is not widening in spite of adjustments in demographics

Some would say the Methodist pool is not possible to save, and that taking the smaller quantity of bait we would get is our only way forward due to vote spreads widening.

The information does not quit inform that narrative clearly. I’ve observed the claim that simply because the demographic adjustments in 2020 make LGBTQ-inclusion even extra tricky (USA losing 20 spots, Africa gaining more than a dozen, Philippines gaining a couple of), that suggests hope is lost.

To respond to that claim, it is critical to see that the Traditionalist 2004 method came about soon after the Conservatives started to worry that their hegemony in The United Methodist Church was at threat.

The 2004 Common Conference had the closest vote in our history on adding or removing LGBTQ-connected language. It was 455-445 in favor of adding “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” language to the Book of Discipline. Yes, it was 50.six%! Just about every vote prior to 2004 had been more than 60% in favor, so you can picture the worry that grasped Traditionalists’ hearts when their important legislation could have failed by only six votes switching sides.

Because then, the important moments of the LGBTQ debate have been really constant with a slim majority:

  • 2008 – reject majority “agree to disagree” final vote 501-417 54.six%/45.four%
  • 2012 – Not of 1 thoughts (Slaughter/Hamilton) – 55% – 45%
  • 2016 – AWF Proposal – 428-405 – 51.four%/48.six%
  • 2019 – Standard Strategy – 438-384 – 53.two%/46.eight%

The vote percentages haven’t changed as significantly more than the years, even although the demographics and worldwide character has considerably.

I wonder if the 2019 vote feels worse simply because the secular planet was in a diverse location in 2019. 2008-2016 have been in the course of Democratic majority eras in society, so even if the church sucked we saw that civil society was becoming extra progressive. But the drumbeat of conservatism that had been increasing in pockets of society exploded in late 2016, top to the Trump moment, and continued in United Methodism as nicely, top to the 2019 Common Conference moment. The twin moments have left us stronger in our Resistance, but also stronger in our need to Exit.

Sheep are welcome in Wolf Households

There are very good people today in progressive and moderate circles who are functioning to Leave United Methodism and commence a extra inclusive kind of Wesleyanism. I’m in favor of such operate and efforts and assistance them. And some of these components want to negotiate with the WCA and Traditionalists simply because they know they want that also.

But I will have to warn about that simply because there is an ever-present need by the Traditionalists to “own the liberals” when it comes to separation, and I be concerned what negotiations with the wolves could imply for the sheep.

In 2004, the proposal produced by Bill Hinson for amicable separation stated that progressive churches could leave and hold their buildings, but the UMC structures and the name “United Methodist” would keep with the conservatives. Not really amicable or just, and if that negotiation table had been laid out, that is precisely what would have occurred, offered the tone of society at that time. It was amicable expulsion not separation.

In 2016, the Standard Plan’s adverse impact on clergy pension improvements was a surprise to absolutely everyone in United Methodism (WesPath integrated) when it was revealed by this weblog (and then supported with the adhere to-up). Also in 2016, the Boyette exit ramp (which did not pass 2019 GC) integrated a raid on reserve funds. So each of the seemingly affordable legislation integrated “kill switches” for progressive movements to be hampered prior to they even began.

Progressives and LGBTQ-inclusive moderates/conservatives really should beware that the track record for affordable compromise is fraught with these moments, and really should have their eyes wide open for arrogance to take hold amongst the victors.

Darkest Ahead of the Dawn

The very good issue is the “raise the toxic levels of everything” strategy by the Traditionalists is only successful in the quick term. When all the hand-waving and prancing about with energy narratives coming out on the internet feels awful to us now, the 2019 Common Conference has awakened the moderates and LGBTQ-inclusive conservatives to their antics and began to nullify their effects. Persons see there is toxicity in the pool and we will have to operate with each other to figure it out.

There are two paths forward:

  • Do we strategy to EXIT, to commence to separate and generate one thing new, even although it has been planned for the entire time by the WCA, and seize this moment to commence a movement?
  • Or do we see the movement as power inside to Stay and to hold on the operate to develop a completely inclusive church that has a worldwide point of view, a rarity in the Christendom planet, and precisely the future the WCA and Traditionalists will vicious oppose?

The option is yours. This weblog will continue to resource each movements for their very good operate ahead till it is clear that only 1 path is viable.

Your Turn

Thoughts?

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