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TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 1999
We, the officers of the Confessing Movement, believe that the Bishop of the North Georgia Annual Conference made a serious mistake in choosing to transfer the Reverend Charles Sineath from First UMC, Marietta. That action was clearly connected to a decision of the Administrative Board of First UMC, Marietta, to re-direct funds from certain apportionments to other United Methodist missional efforts.
Our denomination must correct the false assumption of some bishops that the failure to pay all apportionments is the number one heresy for any pastor or congregation. Perhaps then there can be genuine dialogue and understanding between bishops/cabinets and local pastors and their congregations.
Congregations cannot be coerced to fund programs and causes which they believe to be in violation of scriptural standards. While the Discipline lists as one of the duties of the pastor "to lead the congregation in the fulfillment of its mission through full and faithful payment of all apportioned ministerial support, administrative, and benevolent funds," Article IV of the Confession of Faith declares that the Bible is "the true rule and guide for faith and practice." When United Methodists perceive that scriptural truth is being violated by the payment of some apportionments, no power on earth can make them pay. We pray that the General Conference of 2000 will change the Discipline so that annual conferences and local congregations have some discretionary authority in regard to apportionments.
If the bishops try to coerce compliance through their power of appointment, more lay persons will join other denominations, more pastors will retire early, and more independent congregations will be established.
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Patricia Miller, Executive Director email@example.com