"Ichabod, The glory has departed from Western United Methodism"
I received this copy from Kyle Phillips this morning. I found it an interesting and valuable analysis that might be of help to your readers who are trying to understand the exodus of Cal-Nevada.
Here's my best understanding as to how things are unfolding. I believe Talbert is simply wanting to "clear the deck" to give CA/NV's new bishop as little headaches as possible. All those who have been moved upon were in some degree of preparation of separating from the conference. Of the six signers of the open letter, only Don Roulsten remains. I feel he is safe because he has made very clear that he has no intention of separating.
The evangelical community in CA/NV is in tatters. Those of us who have left over the last two years, I think the number is 15 elders, 8 churches--probably 2,500 people--have left because they have lost all hope for any kind of future in the UMC in the West. We have become convinced that the radicals are in control and pulling hard to the left. We believe that the word "ichabod" has been spoken over the Western UMC. The Lord is still building his kingdom, he's just not doing it through the UMC. Those who have left are convinced that the Lord is on the move, and he is saving the lost, not the apostate Western Jurisdiction.
There are other evangelical UMs, clergy and lay, who are biding there time. Particular circumstances have hindered their exodus, but for them it is just a matter of time. Some of us who have successfully severed ties with the UMC will be associating together for mission, ministry and support and will provide wisdom and resources to other UM churches when the time is right for their exodus.
There are some evangelicals who remain in connection with the CA/NV conference. For some, they are too close to retirement to make a break. Others are still hoping to redeem some aspect of the CA/NV conference. Others are profoundly institutional and for whatever reason cannot view themselves as faithful ministers under any other banner. And certainly others have motives that are known only to themselves.
In my thinking, it will be very important to watch the developments nationally over the next four years. I think most believe a split is coming . I believe jurisdictional leadership is posturing to have some provision for regional separation rather than local church separation. I think the boys in the South would be happy to make a deal with the West to allow AC's to control local property, rather than surrender to local church control. The South does not want liberal churches in their jurisdiction, and the West does not want evangelical churches in their jurisdiction. In addition, local church decision making goes against longstanding UM polity. (I wasn't around during the '68 merger, but I know some local EUB congregations were dragged kicking and screaming into the union with the Methodists.)
Obviously, I am convinced that all are in a season of decision. It is not a time to be faint-hearted and await developments. The UMC is transitioning. No local church or local pastor, especially in the West, is in a position to influence what the UMC will look like after it is all said and done. It continues to be a time to seek the Lord and do boldly whatever he speaks. The evil one will be casting doubt and fear into the hearts of all. Those of us who have stepped out know that the Lord is moving and that there is life outside of the UMC.
I hope these thoughts have been helpful. I remain in prayer for you and all evangelical UMCers. I hope Ron, Bob or Richard respond. There perspective will be different from mine.
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