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California-Nevada Evangelical Pastors Present Their Case For Separation to Conference Leaders

by Ed Ezaki

The following are the agenda and questions which were presented by 16 Evangelical Renewal Fellowship representatives to the Annual Conference Ministry staff on May 20th, 1998.

The meeting lasted two hours, mostly involving ERF representatives expressing their positions on the agenda items. Particularly important were the three personal answers to the questions, "Why do you want to leave the Annual Conference?" by Revs Don Roulsten, John Christie, and Kevin Clancey. (Their responses will soon be posted at the Unofficial ERF Website.) It was as if, after decades of theologically liberal Conference leadership abusing evangelicals, the truth was finally revealed. It was both humorous and sad at the same time that Conference leaders failed to understand why any evangelical would fear retribution for participating in ERF. Even after examples of such past retribution had been shared, certain Conference leaders seemed unable to see themselves as oppressors.

Also important was the unity expressed among ERF representatives. There was strong agreement in asking the Conference to provide both a process by which some can choose to leave the denomination and a process to establish an evangelical provisional Annual Conference. I believe that the Conference leadership is now convinced of the reality that we are serious about separating from the Annual Conference by one of these two methods.

As expected, the Conference leadership asked few questions and provided little response other than to acknowledge that they feel our pain. Unfortunately, they could not tell us exactly when their written responses will be available, but we will know the timeframe within 24 hours. My personal opinion in that Conference leadership doesn't know what to do. I believe that they were hoping to do damage control, but found out that the situation is worse than they had feared. It's too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube. For the first time in a long time, I felt fortunate to be on our side of the table.

Thanks and much love to all who have been supporting us in prayer; be assured that God spoke to the Conference leadership today.

In Him,


May 20th Consultation between ERF leadership and Ministry Staff

10 AM- Devotion and Prayer Bishop Talbert

Three or four ERF people will share why they want to leave the Annual Conference. (Staff requested this; they want to evaluate the potential for reconciliation.)

  1. Please respond to the Oakdale document's request for a process of separation. What sort of time line would be realistic for agreement in principle for such a plan (Dec 31st has been suggested as the outside limit)? A. Clarification of statement "Evangelical theology is incompatible with the dominant values of tolerance and inclusion held by Conference leadership." Tolerance and inclusion are important values to evangelicals, but they are never to be dominant values over Scripture.

  2. For some, leaving the UMC is not the most desirable path. We believe that the formation of an evangelical district in the A/C as a prelude to legislation for an evangelical provisional Conference is a good option for them. Please respond to the request for the immediate formation of an evangelical District in C/N conference.

  3. Is the Conference leadership willing to join a coordinated effort to prepare legislation for General Conference regarding forming a provisional A/C? A. Please respond to the legislation from Santa Clara, re: new denomination.

  4. We respectfully ask that the Conference leadership/Bishop Talbert respond to questions about how the recent Bishops' pastoral statement will be implemented and enforced in C/N A/C. Specifically, the statement "we are committed to uphold the General Conference's action defined in The Book of Discipline, including the statements on homosexuality and all specified issues contained in the Social Principles including the prohibition of ceremonies celebrating homosexual unions by our ministers and in our churches."
    1. Please clarify the statement of Rev. Tom Kimball about Cabinet policy with regard to same sex unions as reported to UMNS. (The following question does not require an answer as it was addressed in Bishop Talbert recent statements.)
    2. What action will be taken with regard to the Revs Cecil Williams and Karen Oliveto following their public statements regarding performance of same-sex ceremonies?
    3. How does the Bishop balance his commitment to the above statement with his participation with other bishops in signing a letter of disagreement with the statements regarding homosexuality in the Discipline?

  5. Please tell us how this period of upheaval will affect evangelical pastors and candidates. Do we have assurance that no punitive action will be taken against those people?

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