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Three ERF Clergy Make Statements to Bishop
at Meeting to discuss Separation

Rev Kevin Clancey
Rev Don Roulston
Rev John Christie


Rev Kevin Clancey, Oakdale UMC, Oakdale, California

As many of you already know, on April 1st, 18 pastors and 25 laypeople signed a document asking for a fair process to leave the Annual conference of the United Methodist Church.  As the president of the Evangelical Renewal Fellowship, a group of United Methodist committed to historic Christianity, I called the meeting and signed the document.   There are several reasons I feel it is time to separate from the United Methodist Church.

Let me list them for you:

  1. United Methodists have lost their doctrinal integrity.  Leaders in the UMC are no longer held accountable to believe and teach the basic tenants of the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible and articulated in our doctrine.  First UMC Marietta Georgia has compiled a documented list of some of the abuses that have taken place in-the last five years.  Time and time again leaders of our denomination support and teach things contrary to Christian belief and ethics, contrary to the scriptures and contrary to the Discipline of our church.  They are not held accountable or disciplined for this, in fact some are promoted.

  2. We are not supported and cannot be supportive of our leaders.   We are told to send approximately $35,000 to the denomination each year.  Some of that money is spent well.  Some of it goes for my pension.  However we receive very little back from that money and others receive very little from that money.  Instead most of it goes to keep a huge and largely unnecessary bureaucracy afloat This bureaucracy has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the stock market and we have leaky roofs.  A few years ago we were asked to help raise ten million dollars to plant more churches.  I think planting more churches is a great idea.  However, we were told that these churches would help stem the tide of growing evangelicalism and bring people back to mainline religions.  I have no desire to plant more theologically liberal Methodist churches.  We are part of the growing tide of evangelicalism.  I cannot support most of the agenda items presented by the leadership of our Annual conference.  As a pastor, I do not feel support, prayed for and uplifted by the leaders in our Annual conference.  This does not mean they are bad people, it simply means we are going two different directions.

  3. We are painted with the same brush.  When our leaders do something publicly the perception is that is what Methodists believe.  When our bishop supports the president who is approving partial-birth abortions the public believes that is what Methodists stand for.  When our pastors perform same sex covenanting services the public thinks Methodists are all doing it and approve of it.  Several men in our Promise Keepers group have told me when they tell their friends they are United Methodists they have to immediately add some kind of disclaimer, saying 'no not that kind of Methodist' We have to continually apologize for the public statements and practices of other United Methodists, especially our leadership.

  4. We waste energy and resources fighting each other.  It is obvious there are two different worldviews competing within the United Methodist Church.  The view our church espouses holds that the Bible is the inspired word of God and the final authority on all matters of faith and practice.  We believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God, fully God and fully man and the exclusive Savior of the world.  There are no other ways to God but through Jesus.  We believe the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  We want to convert people and lead them into a mature relationship with Jesus Christ. Another view says the Bible is one book among many, instructive for the church but not the final word.  Revelation is going on now that can supersede the Bible and it is up to the church to decide what the Spirit is saying now.  Jesus is one way among many and we should support all faiths without believing Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth.  The mission of the church is to simply do good and reform society, but not to try and evangelize the world.  These two views are incompatible.  And both sides waste energy trying to win the organization over to their worldview.  Why not separate and let each view operate without internal squabble.

  5. We are complicit with evil.  This may seem like a strong statement but I believe it is true.  We help support a system that has told us to give money to feed children and reform the world, and by and large, we have been giving money to be invested in the stock market.  We help support a system that professes to believe in the classical Christian faith yet allows and rewards serious deviation and compromise of that faith.  We help support a system that promotes and practices ethics that undermine the family and go against four thousand years of Judeo-Christian sexual ethics.  We are told if we don't do this we are disloyal and schismatic, I think schism has been brought upon us and the loyal thing to do is to not be a part of that system any more.

Rev Don Roulston ? Porterville Grand Avenue UMC, Porterville, CA.

I have been asked to share why I want to leave our annual Conf.  I want to say this is not easy for me.  In 23 years of ministry I have never stood and spoken from the Conf Floor.  I am sure by many I have been seen as a loyal pastor.  I have not sought to make waves or become known by the Conf. leaders.   The churches I have served have always paid apportionments in full.  One difficult financial year at Grand Ave., we borrowed $7,200 from an undesignated savings account to pay our apportionments at 100%.

In spite of the perceived loyalty, there has always been a dread for June to come and Annual Conference.  What divisive issues would we discuss this year that I would have to try to explain to some irate parishioners?

To be very honest with you, I have been very silent in talking about the divisive issues in the local church, and this has probably been a mistake.   I have worked hard to build a strong church at Grand Avenue.  Last Sunday we received 16 new members.  We are set to receive 7 more this coming Sunday.   In talking with this group of new, younger members, I have been surprised to find they have similar theological understandings, including the homosexual issue, as the large majority of the Grand Avenue Congregation.  I thought they might have a different perspective, but this is not the case.

Why have I been silent in my local Church? It is simple.  If many of the church leaders knew what the Conf Leadership supported, they would find it very easy to be a member of another church that held to what they consider biblical principles.  Who would we lose? Most of the Administrative Council members, Sunday school teachers, the Evangelism and Membership Care Committees ---this list could go on and on.

Since the Creech trial became one of the lead stories on our local paper's religion page, I have been talking to one family after another explaining what our Disci line says regarding homosexual unions.  I have read it to them.  They have interpreted the wording as I have, the way the large majority of United Methodist at General Conf intended it to be interpreted.  I have sought to give them hope that they could remain United Methodist.

With the Conf leadership continuing to interpret the Discipline in such a different way from the leadership of my local church, and from what I believe was the General Conf intentions, I am not sure how much longer the local leadership will stay.

When I was a little boy, I "inherited" a little red wagon.  Lots of little children had had it before me.  By the time I got it, there were no hubcaps, the wheel bearings were worn, the wheels were held on, not by coffer keys, but by rusty nails.  Every once in a while one of those nails would break and after a while the wheel would fall off.

The last few weeks, my church has reminded me of my little red wagon.  I feel like I am constantly having to check the wheels, making sure they don't come off. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep the wheels on and the church effectively ministering in the Porterville community with articles and letters being put out that or so opposite what the large majority of Grand Ave. Church believes and stands for.

I grew up in the Methodist Church.  I have been loyal as a United Methodist pastor.  It pains me to stand before you and say please show me a way I can remain a United Methodist.  When I came back from Seminary in 1975 to be appointed, I felt called to be a minister in the United Methodist Church.  I had other options, but I felt called to California.  I desire to remain a United Methodist here in California, but because of deep theological beliefs, I have reservations about remaining a member of the Ca./Nev.  Ann. Conf.  I know I speak for many of my church leaders as well.


Rev John Christie's prepared remarks….

I. This Conference has broken faith with United Methodists

  • We can no longer trust that the will of the United Methodist church, as determined by General Conference will be followed by this Annual Conference.   The Discipline of our church is ignored, and its authority is flouted.   One pastor publicly proclaims that her church had been blessing gay holy unions for decades, and another said he has lost count of how many he's performed.   All this done with impunity and even with the blessing of this leadership.  Jimmy Creech was publicly promised a position in this Annual Conference.   Since 1972, General Conference has spoken clearly and decisively that homosexual practice is not to be condoned.   And yet this conference blesses what the General Church cannot condone.   This Conference has broken faith with United Methodists.

  • The UMC has as its heritage, the legacy of John Wesley.  John Wesley was a man of one book, and that book was the Bible.  He led a Spirit empowered revival that had as its aim the spread of "Scriptural holiness across the land."  Today, to speak of Scripture and holiness in the same sentence is to be written off as a fundamentalist.  Wesley was viewed as a threat to the bureaucratic Anglican Church, which made him feel unwelcome at their table.  This conference has become the Anglican Church of Wesley's day to evangelicals.  This Conference has broken faith with our United Methodist heritage.

  • I want to leave this Annual Conference because it is clear we no longer share the same religion.  Lyle Schaller says the number one question facing the future of United Methodism is this: "Is the Christian faith a revealed religion that was disclosed by God ...  in the Holy Scriptures for all generations to come? Or is Christianity a religion that both expects and obligates each generation to reinterpret the redefine the faith?" We answer that question differently.  For evangelicals, the Christian faith is not a riddle to be solved, but a revelation to be received.  It's not a mystery to be discovered, but a truth that was "once for all delivered to the saints." What divides us is not a single issue, but a foundational difference on the nature of biblical authority and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

  • I want to leave this Annual Conference because the decisions and promulgation's of the leadership of this Conference cut me off at the knees in trying to build an evangelical church.  In some parts of our country there is still pride among evangelicals for being United Methodist.  But it has become an embarrassment in evangelical circles to be United Methodist in this Annual Conference.  I teach at SJCC, [San Jose Christian College] and the classes view me with surprise as "a United Methodist who actually believes the Bible."  This Conference has broken faith with United Methodists, and become an embarrassment to us.

  • I want to leave this Annual Conference because in ceaseless promotion of the gay lifestyle, the leadership of this Conference is promoting schism.  Wolfhart Pannenberg, one of the most esteem theologians of our day, wrote: "Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture.  Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism.  If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture.  A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church."  This Conference has broken faith with our United Methodist Heritage.

 

II.  This Conference has broken trust with evangelicals

  • I do not feel welcome or included at the table of this Annual Conference.  I do not feel that Evangelical theology is ever considered when this AC trumpets its inclusiveness and diversity.  The Bishop, D.S.'s and Conference staff, assembled here, as far as I know, all disagree with the statements in our Church's Discipline about not condoning the practice of homosexuality and considering that practice to be incompatible with Christian teaching.  This Conference has broken trust with evangelicals.

  • Furthermore, there has never been an Evangelical D.S.  in the 20 years I've been a part of this Annual Conference.  Some say it's been closer to 30 or 40 years.  I know AVS [ Al VomSteeg] was offered the position once, at a time when he couldn't accept it.  But there has been no follow through.  It has never been a priority.  This Conference has broken trust with evangelicals.

  • For 6 years I was forced to take a Sabbatical and then LOA from this Conference because the Bishop refused to appoint me to work in Ghana with the MSUM [Mission Society for United Methodists] .  There is no written agreement among Bishops not to appoint to the MSUM.  Many other Bishops have done so.  But not ours.  The President of the Methodist Church — Ghana wrote to Bishop Talbert requesting that I be appointed to work directly with the Methodist Church — Ghana to train pastors.  Copies of this letter were sent to and received by my DS and the Chair of the Conf Relations Committee.  The Conference response was to not act on this, even to deny ever receiving such a letter.  And there was no follow through because no one cared.  At the same time I was requesting a special appointment, we had pastor's under special appointment to serve as an elementary school teacher, a financial service representative, a psychodramatist, a president of a sex institute, and a political science instructor, to name just a few.   These were considered "in keeping with the goals of this Annual Conference." AVS recently transferred to another AC where the Bishop there appointed him to work with the MSUM, because our Bishop refused.  And this in spite of an overwhelming vote of our Ministerial Session in favor of the MSUM as an acceptable site location for ABLC.  Evangelicals are made to feel unwelcome at the table of Jesus Christ in this Annual Conference.  This Conference has broken trust with evangelicals.

  • Lyle Schaller says this about the UMC in his book, appropriately entitled, Tattered Trust: "Why is the system dysfunctional? Because it is organized on the basic assumption that Christian people in general and congregational leaders in particular, cannot be trusted "  Last year we lost an evangelical congregation at Salem UMC in Lodi.  One of the largest evangelical congregations is halved in size because the cabinet knew more than the SPRC whom to appoint there.  Quest for Quality training says "the focus is always on the customer," but our Conference prefers to lord it over them.  Jim McGhee left this Annual Conference a number of years ago; feeling there's no future for evangelical pastors.  Al Vom Steeg is gone, Kevin Clancy is leaving.  22 pastors signed a document saying we want to leave this annual conference because we are tired of being abused and having our values treated with derision.  The system is designed for the results it's getting.  This Conference has broken trust with evangelicals.

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