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Nineteen Hundred Ninety Nine

by Charles F. Cooley

Dear Church,

What a romance we’ve had. How very much you have meant to us. You have guided, you have inspired, called us into your service, taken us on one mountain-top experience after another. You have taught is about God and His totally faithful Son. Your teachings have kept us from making many of the mistakes we surely would have made without you.

But now we feel estranged, because you are straying from your very strength, dabbling with things you taught us were wrong. Like Samson getting a hair cut, you’ve begun to lose your virility, and a precious part of your usefulness to a chaotic society. When we realize standards will be lowered for your clergy, it makes us feel like the child who is seeing his own parents going bad.

A blood-less coup is likely during the next General Conference. Then the Abrahams will be saying adieu to the Lots and, bereft of property, will begin new assemblies of faith in living rooms or school halls, saddened to be without your full fellowship, your marvelous choirs, and your great sanctuaries. Some will reason that we have walked away from you, but we believe you are walking away from us and the steadfastness you have trained us to maintain.

We will miss your summons to peace-making, your call to missions, your outreach to the down-trodden, your challenge that we consider race and gender and nationality as integral to one community. But you have no corner on these things. It just means we’ll have to find other avenues for serving and outreach.

While we’ll keep in touch, continuing to honor the good you do, some of what you’ve taught us is too important to let die. We cannot let that happen.

In love and faith, but with saddened hearts,

The New Pilgrims

Charles F. Cooley is:

  • A retired United Methodist clergyman
  • Served for thirty five years as minister for students at Ohio University,
    Western Michigan University, and Ohio State University.
  • His career also included a community house ministry
  • Pastorates in the East Ohio and West Ohio Annual Conferences.

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