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United Methodist Church Members Begin Uniting To Provide Faithful Christian Witness Within Unfaithful Denomination


News Release
Seattle, Washington
February 1, 2003

United Methodist Church Members Begin Uniting
To Provide Faithful Christian Witness

For a number of years there has been growing concern by many United Methodist Church (UMC) Members over the increasing lack of moral, ethical, and sound doctrinal teaching, practices, and worship in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference (PNWAC). The UMC is a mainline Christian denomination founded on the basic tenets of the Christian faith and governed by its sacred Scriptures, historical Confessions of Faith, Book of Discipline and General Conference.  However, many pastors and leaders in the PNWAC have failed to uphold and abide by the doctrines and laws of the Church. The Bishop, Cabinet, District Superintendents, Board of Ordained Ministry, Committee on Investigation, and others, have failed, either by choice or through ineffectiveness, to appoint pastors for many local churches who honestly agree with and teach Christianity in the Methodist tradition.  In addition, when there are pastors who do not maintain the highest standards of holy living and/or disseminate doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the UMC, there has been little or no enforcement of obedience, which effectively condones their beliefs and behavior.

The lack of enforcement stated above negates, ignores, and violates the Book of Discipline.  The failure of the PNWAC to enforce the Book of Discipline is seen by many as proof of unbelief in basic Christian Doctrines.

One symptom of the grave underlying problems concerning Scriptural authority and compliance with the Book of Discipline is the issue of homosexuality and how it affects the Christian.  The UMC’s General Conference asserts that practicing homosexual acts is incompatible with Christian teaching.  In addition, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates for ordination, ordained, or appointed to serve in the UMC. 

The most flagrant lack of Discipline enforcement is the much publicized and open admission by Elder Mark E. Williams during the 2001 Annual Conference where he stated that he is a practicing homosexual.  Yet, contrary to the Book of Discipline, Mark E. Williams is still appointed to and preaching in a local UMC in Seattle.  This strongly suggests that the PNWAC is unable and/or unwilling to enforce the UMC’s clear moral standards of clergy conduct.

 As a result, the Christian witness and reputation of the UMC is severely damaged.

Many local churches have lost members and/or financial support as a result of the inability and/or unwillingness of the PNWAC to discipline its pastors.  Local churches continue to face internal conflict and turmoil over this and many other issues.  Some have sought remedy from the PNWAC, but have found little or no support.  Often members reach a point of such frustration or anger that they leave the church.

Believing God is calling UMC Laity to provide a Christian witness faithful to the Doctrinal standards and General Rules of the Book of Discipline, a few UMC members from the PNWAC have joined together identifying themselves as The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church (FCL).

FCL (Faithful Christian Laity) began meeting in the summer of 2002 and have now formed a Steering Committee, prepared their Mission Statement and their Unified Statement, which appear below in their entirety.  The Steering Committee has identified and begun prioritizing issues that need to be addressed. They are formulating plans for action and are seeking other like-minded Christians to work together in the UMC toward the common goal of making Disciples of Jesus Christ in the Methodist tradition.  Of high priority is establishing a means of easy communication and networking of laity throughout the local churches in the wide geographical area covered by the UMC.  A future news release will provide some of these communications links.

On December 13, 2002, several members of the Steering Committee met with Bishop Elias Galvan.  The purpose of the meeting was to introduce themselves to the Bishop, provide him with copies of the Mission and Unified Statements, to request his blessing for their efforts, and to pray with him as Bishop of the PNWAC.


THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN LAITY
OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
MISSION STATEMENT

We, The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church, have joined together in love for God and for the United Methodist Church to help revive and maintain faithful Christian witness and service in our local churches and Annual Conferences.  We provide meaningful avenues for faithful Christian lay voices to be heard and opportunities for action as a means to that end.


“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

— Ephesians 6:10-18, New International Version


THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN LAITY
OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

 UNIFIED STATEMENT

We, The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church (Faithful Christian Laity), believe in and affirm the United Methodist Church’s Articles of Faith, as written in ¶103 in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (Book of Discipline).  We believe that the sacred Scriptures received through and from the early church, affirmed by the Protestant Reformation, and passed down to the United Methodist Church, is the inspired and authoritative witness for Christian life and doctrine. Like John Wesley, we believe that Bible is the “final authority in all doctrinal matters.”  The Bible says that all have sinned, and all can be cleansed of their sin and reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We, as Christians, are called to “go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).  This calls for repentance and an earnest desire to turn from a sinful life.  We believe that “no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral” (Article VI of the Book of Discipline).  We believe that we are called to sanctification, “that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in His holy commandments blameless.”  Both the Holy Bible and the Book of Discipline (1 Timothy 3, and ¶304.3, respectively) call for church leaders to maintain the highest standard of holy living in the world.  

We are greatly grieved by the failure of the appointed and elected leadership of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to uphold, first, God’s Holy Word and, secondly, the Book of Discipline, particularly with respect to holding all clergy accountable to the highest standards of holy living and sound doctrinal teaching.  In addition, we are greatly grieved that because of our leaderships’ actions our entire denomination suffers from division, strife, and loss of members.  Our witness for Jesus Christ has been poor and we, as an Annual Conference, have been ineffective at fulfilling the Great Commission.

Therefore, we, The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church, united in belief and as one body under the headship of our Lord Jesus Christ, do purpose to:

  1. Remain true to our calling to empower people to become transformed disciples of Jesus Christ to proclaim to each other, the community, and the world, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We are united in the desire to serve the poor, the hungry, the naked, the stranger and prisoner, focusing on others’ needs rather than our own.  We will provide a sanctuary where the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are worshipped in holiness and where the saints are instructed in the ways of the Lord.
     
  2. Manage our internal affairs first according to the law of God as written in His Word, the Holy Bible, and secondly, to the laws of the United Methodist Church, as stated in the Book of Discipline;
     
  3. Work diligently to hold the leadership of the United Methodist Church accountable first to the law of God as written in His Word, the Holy Bible, and secondly, to the laws of the United Methodist Church, as stated in the Book of Discipline, relating to the performance of the duties of their appointed offices; and
     
  4. Actively seek out and partner with other like-minded United Methodist laity who support these same ideals and who will covenant with us in active opposition to any activity within the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church or the greater United Methodist Church that deviates from these laws.

 We believe that God’s grace extends freely to all who would receive it and it is the responsibility of the church to minister to all who seek God without regard to age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation.  We stand firm in our belief that once justified through faith in Jesus Christ, the regeneration of the Holy Spirit calls to us to repent of our sins and reject the lifestyle choices that would keep us in bondage to sin, with sin clearly defined for us by God in the Bible.   It is the responsibility of the church to gently lead those who would continue or fall back into sin after justification towards repentance.  If the person is unrepentant, as evidenced by openly living a life contrary to God’s Word and fails to respond by private and group counsel of the Church (Matthew 18:15-17), we are commanded to expel the immoral brother (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).  And when the immoral person has repented and responded to the “punishment by the majority” we will “forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

We further covenant among ourselves to not allow the rebellion and poor witness for Jesus Christ of our Annual Conference to distract us from our commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).  To this end, we will strive to maintain and enhance the existing programs God has called us to and will boldly establish and support any new ministries we are called to begin by Him.

Signed,

The Steering Committee of The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church

David Battey
Cathy Bihler
Kathy Cosner
Byron Fitch
Angel Manuel Fitzpatrick, Jr.
Connie Gent
Howie Schwend
Don Shoemake


To find discussion concerning FCL, go to:
UCMPage.org Forum - The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church

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