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What was NOT said by the Council of Bishops

by Richard McClain April 30, 1998

Brothers and sisters,

I have just read the news that the bishops have decided not to call for a special general conference. That was no surprise to most of us, I'm sure. To be honest, I don't know whether I had been more concerned about a special conference not being called or one being called. Why? Because, if it had been called, then the conference would have:

  1. "Fixed" the Discipline by moving the language prohibiting same-sex unions to the section dealing w/ duties of ministers; and as a result...
  2. Made a lot of people feel like "the issue" had been resolved (and therefore they could go back to sleep, or to the comfortable fantasy that all was well in the UMC); while in fact...
  3. Nothing would have changed, since now we would have just one more "iron-clad provision" in the Discipline that would be routinely disregarded like all the others that are already on the books.

Note what the bishop's statement did NOT say. There was NO denunciation or reject of the very public statements in support of the enCreechment upon the church of same-sex unions that has previously come from the bishops and cabinets of Cal/Nev and Troy conferences. There was NO direct statement that the council of bishops considers the prohibition as it currently stands to be binding, or that the council hopes the judicial council declares it to be so. There was NO call for United Methodists to lay to rest an issue that has already been settled (again and again and again and again) by every General Conference since 1972. And there was NO OUTRAGE at the mockery that has been made of UM church law by many in the church. Instead, they are still "conferencing" and studying and writing papers. And they're hiding behind starving babies! (Quote: "Further, as we respond to the crises in the world, especially among children and the impoverished and those who desperately need the gospel, a special called session might further distract us from our central mission.") God help us, people. All they need to do is empty the coffers of our own boards and agencies and give the proceeds to the poor, and they could feed most of the babies instead of writing more papers about them!

In other words, the movement to move the UMC from its current TACIT approval of homosexuality to a JURIDICAL approval of homosexuality is alive and well.

People, we need to wake up and recognize that our church is no longer defined by what it legislates. It's real position is now defined by what it tolerates. The Discipline is therefore all but irrelevant. The reality is this: in light of the UMC's unwillingness to hold itself accountable to its own rules, we who stand for the historic teaching of Scripture and the Methodist church can only LOSE at a general conference; we can't GAIN any ground. (I.E. If the Discipline is ever changed to accept homosexuality, we will have lost this issue; but if it is left as it is...or even if it is strengthened as it has been time and again...we really haven't gained anything.) I hope someone can demonstrate where I am wrong in my analysis at this point, but I'm not holding my breath.

Maybe the Tulsa event happened two weeks too soon. Anyone have any new ideas about what to do now?

IHG. Dick McClain <>

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