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Seven Steps to Renew the United Methodist Church

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

As the United Methodist Church looks toward the 2000 General Conference, it does so as a house divided. Listed below are essential issues that must be addressed by the delegates in Cleveland if we are to begin the process of healing and have a viable future as a mainline denomination. For many United Methodists, action on these concerns would begin the process of restoring some sense of integrity and hope within the United Methodist connection.

I. Renew Doctrinal Integrity. Historically the church has found its only unity in the profession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Therefore, we renounce our tolerance of teaching that is in direct conflict with the Scriptures and the doctrinal standards of the United Methodist Church (i.e. endorsement of syncretism, support for "Re-Imagining," prayers to Sophia, and baptisms in other than the Trinitarian name, etc.). The General Conference must seek renewed faithfulness and a restoration of doctrinal integrity at all levels of the denomination.

II. Retain Membership Vows. The unity of the church is based on a common profession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The church must retain its historic understanding of membership, which includes vows and a profession of faith and covenant, not just a baptism of infants.

III. Return to Voluntary Financial Support. We believe that the support of the church’s mission and ministry should be voluntary. Generous and voluntary giving is at the heart of good stewardship. We need a return of individual commitment that is expressed through voluntary support rather than the heavy hand of mandatory, apportioned funds.

IV. Reject The Connectional Process Team Report. We seek a truly "United" Methodist Church as we move into the new millennium. We reject efforts that would fragment the United Methodist Church, isolating us from the wisdom and richness of the international church. The Connectional Process Team Report diminishes the true global nature of the world as being "our parish." Furthermore, the CPT plan would result in a massive restructure of the denomination which would require enormous time and energy, diverting attention from local church ministry. The Report should be rejected.

V. Reform Judicial Procedures For Bishops. Unity in the church requires fair and equitable judicial process at all levels. Bishops should not be administrating complaints against other bishops. The current process may leave the perception of self-interest. Additionally, a process of appeal must be provided when complaints brought to bishops for adjudication are dismissed without reconciliation between the aggrieved parties.

VI. Retain Present Standards on Homosexuality. The most challenging threat to the church’s unity in the last three decades has come from those advocating the acceptance of homosexual practice. While affirming intentional, compassionate ministry to all persons, the church must retain its present standards as found in Pars. 65.C,G; 304.2,3; and 806.12 of The Book of Discipline.

VII. Reject Partial-Birth Abortion. The unity of the church should be demonstrated by its consistent defense of the powerless and voiceless. Therefore, the church must reject the abortion-on-demand climate that presently exists in the nation, while being intentional in ministry to women who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy. The church must affirm clearly its "belief in the sanctity of unborn human life" (Par. 65 J, Discipline) and its strong opposition to abortion, especially the horrible procedure known as partial-birth abortion.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God…" (Ephesians 6:12,13).

"Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God’" (Mark 10:27).

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