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Conservative UM Good News Org To Consider "Amicable Seperation"

August 26, 2004


Contact: James V. Heidinger II

Good News To Explore Unity/Separation Issues in New Quadrennium; Says GC Unity Resolution Already Violated

Wilmore, KY – “In recognition of the threats to the unity of the United Methodist Church today, Good News will begin to examine and explore the issues raised by the proposal for amicable separation and the resolution on unity during the 2004 General Conference,” said a statement passed unanimously by the Good News board of directors at its meeting here August 18-20.

Good News, an evangelical renewal ministry within the United Methodist Church, was holding its first board meeting since the 2004 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The statement went on to say, “This exploration will be a major emphasis of Good News’ renewal work during this current quadrennium. The emphasis will include public statements and actions that raise the question of what unity means for our church amid the deeply held theological disagreements within it.”

“What this means in practicality,” said the Rev. Dr. Scott Field, chairman of the Good News board, “is that we are beginning a careful and serious examination of the biblical, theological, historical and organizational questions related to the possible future structure(s) and shape(s) of United Methodism, and we hope to engage the larger church in the process.” Field is the senior minister at the Wheatland-Salem United Methodist Church in Naperville, IL.

“Issues about unity were not settled by the much-heralded resolution passed in Pittsburgh,” said the Rev. Dr. James V. Heidinger II, president and publisher of Good News. The resolution passed by delegates the last day of General Conference said:
“As United Methodists we remain in covenant with one another, even in the midst of disagreement, and affirm our commitment to work together for our common mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ throughout the world.”

“What was deeply troubling to our board members at our recent meeting were the reports of what has happened in just the three months since that Unity Resolution was passed,” added Heidinger.
    • “First, the 2004 Western Jurisdiction approved a Committee on Theological Education and the Ministry, which has as one of its responsibilities ‘to deepen the knowledge of scripture. . .by developing a curriculum that includes and affirms new and diverse understandings of traditional theological language, particularly on scriptural authority, atonement, and the reality of God’;
    • “second, every episcopal candidate interviewed in the Western Jurisdiction was reported to have disagreed publicly with the church’s stance on homosexuality;
    • “third, a delegate from the California/Nevada Annual Conference announced at the Western Jurisdiction Conference that some 49 retired pastors had offered to do same-sex unions if called upon, implying this was a safe and effective way to circumvent church law; and
    • “finally, the July 31, 2004 edition of the Arizona Republic, in an article introducing newly-elected Bishop Minerva Carcano to the Phoenix Area, noted that she ‘supports full inclusion of gay and lesbian church members, including gay marriage.’

"One must ask how a ‘Unity Resolution’ has any meaning whatsoever or how the Western Jurisdiction sees itself as being ‘in covenant’ with the rest of the church in light of these recent actions, ” Heidinger said.

The Good News board of directors agreed that the United Methodist Church is at a crossroads at this particular time in its history. This was further accented by the surprising news that some board members were hearing for the first time that an August 13 decision by the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno, California, ruled that St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Fresno—which had severed ties with the denomination in 2000—could retain its property. The formerly United Methodist congregation had severed its affiliation with the denomination when 68 ministers in the California/Nevada Annual Conference defied denominational policy by joining to bless a same-sex union in Sacramento in 1999.

In 2002, a Superior Court judge ruled that the local church could not revoke the trust clause in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. However, the appellate court ruling of August 13 agreed with the St. Luke’s church that basic principles of trust law hold that a trust agreement cannot be irrevocable unless the property owner—which in this case is the St. Luke’s congregation—makes it so. “We are aware this matter is likely to be appealed to the California Supreme Court,” said Heidinger, “but it certainly highlights issues of justice and fairness for local church congregations which have poured so much of themselves, their resources, and their prayerful support and upkeep into their church facilities. We await with great interest further developments of this significant, and perhaps landmark, ruling.”

In other action, the Good News board presented the second Paul L. Morell United Methodist Missions Award to the Rev. Dr. H.T. Maclin of Atlanta, Georgia. In 1983, Maclin was chosen to become the founding president of the Mission Society for United Methodists and was appointed to that post in early 1984 by Bishop Joel McDavid. Maclin served as a missionary in Africa from 1952 until 1972 with the General Board of Global Ministries. In 1974 he was chosen by GBGM to be the Field Representative for Mission Development in the SE Jurisdiction and stayed in that post until 1983. Maclin and his wife, Alice, were both present at the banquet for the presentation. The Morell Award is named after former Good News board chairman, the Rev. Dr. Paul Morell, whose life and ministry reflected a love for and commitment to world mission.

In further action, the board elected as its new chairman the Rev. Tom Lambrecht, pastor of Faith Community United Methodist Church in Greenville, Wisconsin. Lambrecht has been a Vice-Chairman of the Good News board and gave major leadership to Good News’ Decision 2004 General Conference ministry. Lambrecht will assume board leadership following the January 2005 board meeting. The board honored Lambrecht, current chairman Scott Field, and Rev. David Flagel for their leadership in
Good News’ General Conference effort.

The board also elected five new members who will begin serving a three-year term as of January, 2005. Those elected are: Sara Anderson, a laywoman from Anderson, Indiana; David Flagel, a pastor from Lake Odessa, MI; Chet Harris, a pastor from Canton, Ohio; Warren Lathem, a pastor from Georgia; and Ken Werlein, a pastor from Houston, TX. Flagel and Harris are returning to the board after a sabbatical year off.

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