UM Renewal Groups Moderate The Anti-Church UM General Agencies
From: John Miles firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2001 3:52 PM
Last week I printed an excerpt of a speech by Bishop Ives president of the Board of Church and Society. I felt Bishop Ives attack on the IRD and Mark Tooley were disappointing for several reasons.
The IRD exists, in part, because there is a perception among conservative United Methodists that the Board of Church and Society is not representative of the church. Two instances come to mind from recent history. First the B.C.S. petitioned the Supreme Court to force the Boy Scouts to accept homosexual scout masters. As a former scout, I can vouch for the fact that scouting is heavily invested in moral development. Our denomination has affirmed that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and yet our lobbying organization wants to force scouting to accept what we as a church find morally flawed. Far more disturbing, a couple of years ago the B.C.S. lobbied President Clinton to veto the proposed ban on partial-birth abortion. My church sends money to the B.C.S. through apportionments. That they would use money my church sent them to lobby in favor of a medical procedure that is basically infanticide, horrorifies me.
How can evangelicals express their outrage? We can speak out in our Annual Conferences and we can support national advocacy groups like the IRD. Why is that wrong? The left does the same thing. In fact, I would argue they do it through the Board of Church and Society with money my church sends them. At least, the IRD raises their own support.
Bishop Ives states that the IRD uses, "responsible evangelicals" to foster division in annual conferences. I would argue that the boards and agencies themselves are responsible for division when they act in ways that disregard large segments of the church. Are we wrong to organize political opposition to what we find morally objectionable? I guarantee you the liberals dominate our church leadership because they have used the political process more effectively than we have. Surely Bishop Ives at the conclusion of his speech did not mean to imply that liberals were more loving than conservatives. It did sound that way, however. I have visited with conservative UMC pastors from across the country and they all share stories of personal attacks by liberals. I personally have been reviled, scorned, threatened and ridiculed by liberals. I would like to say I turned my cheek in Christlike love but to my shame I have to admit I have given as good as I got. Look, let's all at least agree that every faction of the church is capable of mean-spirited partisanship as well as graciousness and love.
Finally, I am grateful to the IRD, UMAction, Good News, and the Confessing Movement for giving me a voice and for making a difference. Because of their efforts our church is becoming more moderate in it's stances. I believe in the future that voice will grow even stronger.
John Miles II
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