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Omaha First UMC Church Council Chair Resigns

Statement from Frank Rathbun, former chairman of the Church Council at the First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska


Dear Pastor Creech:

I was elected to the position of chairman, Church Council at the All-Church Conference on December 2, 1997. My name had been placed in nomination from the floor and the Congregation elected me to succeed the then existing Chairman who still had two years to run on her term.

Since taking office, I have attended many meetings of the twenty-three, Committees, Boards and Commissions that exist in our organization. I also presided at Council Meetings on January 20, and February 23, 1998. I have learned a great deal about the current status of our Church. I have observed that:

  • Our average Sunday attendance at Worship Services has decreased from 740 in 1996; 672 in 1997; to 445 for the first nine Sundays of 1998.
  • Between September 1, 1997 and February 11, 1998, we lost 95 members as against enrolling 40 new members. These figures do not include the 60 inactive members which were removed from the rolls by action taken in December at the All-Church Conference.
  • I was advised that the pledges for 1998 were more than 2096 below what had been pledged in 1997, and that as of year end the 1997 pledges were in arrears by more than 10%.
  • That as of this date, nothing had been paid towards our 1998 Apportionments.
  • That the March 13, 1998 issue of Bread (our weekly newspaper) reported that our current finances were in bad shape indicating that the monthly pledges are being paid at a level $10,000 to $15,000 below what was expected and needed. To correct that problem, members were encouraged to bring pledges up to date if they are in arrears and to consider prepaying pledges for the remaining months of the year.

In spite of this and other information in my possession regarding the current status and climate in FUMC, I was not called upon to testify at your trial last week in Kearney, NE. I believe that I could have offered testimony that would have offset the uncontested testimony of several of our Church members who testified on your behalf indicating that things were in good shape at our Church.

Last Saturday morning, shortly after the verdict was announced, I commenced receiving telephone calls from people who had pledged to support me in my role as church Council Chair asking that they be released from their commitment to me.

In view of (1) the erosion of support for me from a number of my friends, (2) my belief that some of your practices are, in my opinion, an abomination to God, and (3) my reluctance to play the role of an obstructionist at my Church bring me to the point that I feel I can no longer be effective as Chair, Church Council. Accordingly, I am resigning effective with your receipt of this letter.

Sincerely,

Frank Rathbun


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