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Marietta Church Divides Over Decision to Move Sineath

Please understand that a lot of what I'm going to say is merely opinion and speculation as the Bishop's office keeps things pretty quiet and the pastoral staff at Marietta FUMC is not taken to political rallying....

Our pastor, due to an act of conscience and prompting of Holy Spirit, encouraged us to make a statement and take a stand against the unholy things that were happening within the UMC as well as in our own conference (ex. the Emory decision to allow same sex marriages to take place in the chapels on campus under "special circumstances").

This was a desperate measure that intended to get the attention of the heirarchy, hopefully to wake them up and help to spark a spirit of change. Instead, it woke them up and inspired a spirit of "stop it before it spreads".

To my knowledge, no other pastor of any UM church in the N. Georgia conference would take the same stand or openly encourage us in our actions. When I attempted to set up a prayer chain within UM Churches in the N. Ga. Conference, my requests either went unanswered or I was accused of "ulterior motives" (by pastors of other N. Ga. UM Churches) since we were the church that was causing all the trouble. However, during all of the trials and tribulations, Charles never complained, never weakened but grew stronger and more faithful as the persecution increased.

It only lasted a little over a year:

  • November 1997 - Emory vote
  • January 1998 first discussion at Admin. bd. Meeting
  • February 1998 "Report on Doctrinal Integrity" published locally and made available for the Board of Stewards to read
  • March 1998 vote to redirect approx 26% of apportionments to "other approved UM ministries"; November 1998 Admin. Bd once again voted overwhelmingly to continue with the redirection of approx 25% of apportionments to "other approved UM ministries"
  • Charge Conference held in December 1998 where the Body voted by a margin of at least 80% to continue to redirect
  • Stern scolding from the DS telling us that we had made a mistake
  • During January and February, numerous called meetings between the DS and Charles, the Bishop and Charles, and the Chairman as well as the whole SPRC and the Bishop, DS, and Charles
  • SPRC voted unanimously to reappoint Charles and the rest of the appointed staff
  • Bishop deciding that was not in the best interest of Marietta FUMC and telling the SPRC that Charles would not be reappointed in June.
  • Then this past Friday (March 26, 1999), Charles had a meeting with the DS to inform him that the options available for him (as had been previously offered) were not where God was leading him and he would retire in June.
  • Diane Parish our newest addition to the appointed pastoral staff an encouragement to the Charles during the entire episode (the only one that spoke up and out) was called to a meeting with the Bishop this past Friday and came home with the announcement that she would be taking a leave of absence starting July 1.

I have heard no other details about her meeting.

The focus of this entire period of time has been "What would God have us to do?". Charles is a man of God. He desires to be a God pleaser, not a man pleaser, therefore has proceeded according to direction from the Holy Spirit, knowing all along that it might come to this, but following God's lead, refusing to be intimidated by the "big boys".

Charles agreed from the outset not to try to rally others to "his side". It's disappointing to some of us that they wouldn't step up in support of a brother without needing to be "rallyed", however, I am convinced now more than ever that it is all part of God's big plan, for the UMC, for Charles Sineath, for Marietta FUMC, and yes even for Bishop Davis and DS Jenkins as well as for the entire congregation of Marietta FUMC and all that hear the news of the happenings here.

We are divided into at least 4 segments now at church...

  1. Those that are glad this is "almost over" and will work to gain control of the Admin Board so that they can be "good stewards" once again and pay their full apportionment.

  2. Those that will stay and continue to fight for honor and integrity in the heirarchy and agencies that are supported by the UMC.

  3. Those that will just dwindle away into the night.

  4. Those that will seek to form a new, independent church free from the UMC apostasy. Where God will once again reign supreme and Jesus is the answer.

It has not been for nothing. There are many of us that are stronger Christians because of these events and the example of Christlike behavior and attitude played out in front of us in the form of our pastor and his wife.

Even though many of us may disagree somewhat on the next step, I can't see that dissension has grown even one bit. (We had another man come forward yesterday, Sunday March 29, 1999, receive his salvation and be baptized!)

I am of the group that desires to move on now without the encumbrances of the land and do pure ministry.

These are decisions that must be made by each local church, always knowing that the chain of command will never tolerate it and the chances are very strong that your church will split as a result.

The point is, whom do we follow? Whom do we fear? After all, what CAN man do to us?

To some it seems that we "rolled over", to each of us we are following God, trying to be obedient, always striving to follow the path that He has laid out before us.

In His Service, Ellen*

* Ellen is a lay member of the FUMC Mariatta

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