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Commentary


Inside the Minds of Others Re: Pacific North West Annual Conference and the Confessing Movement

by Michael Hinton


Following are comments from confirmed sources in the PNW that reflect the state of affairs in the UMC throughout the country at this point. I believe these comments reflect the mind of the official renewal groups such as the Confessing Movement (CM). I will present the comments in whole and then begin with another version that is interspersed with my comments, which I beg readers to consider with prayer and an open mind to God's possible leading.

9/2/02; 12:15

Friends:

Evangelicals have long been aware of their so-called "numbers" advantage.

But in the United Methodist system, these numbers have limited authority, not  absolute authority as in a pure democracy.

We are a system governed by law created and enforced through conferencing.

We have a constitution that provides for separation of powers and "checks and balances." The General Conference makes church law, but the annual conferences are the legal entities (of organization) charged with responsibilities within the law.

The General Conference is not an entity that may be sued, but annual conferences are subject to state and federal laws and may be sued for unlawful actions, such as breach of contract.

Conference officials know the law. We are not a system of congregations (by association) but a system of conferences (by a connectional polity).

Talking louder and more passionately will not change the system. What is needed is far deeper assessment and insight than what we have at the present time.

We need God's instruction through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit for the next step.

Now I will attempt to break down these comments into their component parts for analysis.

Evangelicals have long been aware of their so-called "numbers" advantage.

This is true among the laity but not among the clergy. The clergy are largely Liberal, instructed in the DISbelief system of the History of Religions School of Biblical Higher Criticism. Secretly, the clergy and hierarchy of the Church despise the laity as ignorant, backward and even sinful in their opposition to such as the gay rights agenda.

True believers among the clergy are practically persecuted. Defense mechanisms begin to emerge among tradtitonalist clergy such as syncretism, rationalization, delusional thinking, retreat to parochialism and magical thinking.

But in the United Methodist system, these numbers have limited authority, not absolute authority as in a pure democracy.

Yes, limited authority but not limited power. Traditionalist laity have the power of the purse and traditionalist clergy have the power of moral suasion. These powers should be used without fear or apology.

We are a system governed by law created and enforced through conferencing.

Obviously not. We are a patronage system governed by coalitions and REALPOLITICK.

We have a constitution that provides for separation of powers and "checks and
balances.


Again, obviously not. The judiciary is not independent because the Bishops are gatekeepers of all charges preferred against clergy.

The General Conference makes church law, but the annual conferences are the legal entities (of organization) charged with responsibilities within the law.

Yes, the system is flawed because of its departure from the original Wesleyan model. In Wesley's day there was one Annual Conference to govern the whole of Methodism; there was no General Conference. In America we should understand that the Executives (Elders) are supposed to enforce the laws passed by the Legislature.

When the Annual Conferences act as a law unto themselves we might as well spare ourselves the expense of a General Conference.

Solution: give the General Conference power to REMOVE executives who refuse to enforce the rule of law, just as Congress has the power to impeach a president or Justice of the Supreme Court.

Separation of power cannot be absolute or it leads to abuse. Separation of power must have checks and balances between the branches of government.

The General Conference is not an entity that may be sued, but annual conferences are subject to state and federal laws and may be sued for unlawful actions, such as breach of contract.

What the source is saying is that since the Board of Ordained Ministry approved Karen and Mark for Orders, the Bishop must appoint them or be sued.

The problem with this theory is that the Bishop is a general officer of the whole church and in his capacity the General Church may be sued by proxy if, for instance, a gay Pastor's ex lover burns down the Parsonage, catches a neighbor's house on fire, killing it's occupants.

Don't give me this baloney that the General Church can't be sued. RICO may apply in some cases of institutional fraud.

Conference officials know the law.

No, they are biting their nails against the day when their house of cards comes falling down around their heads, when the people figure out what frauds they are with regard to the administration of Church discipline.

We are not a system of congregations (by association) but a system of conferences (by a connectional polity).

The connectional polity has been widely misunderstood and misrepresented because contemporary versions contain no reference to doctrine or Biblical standards of behavior.

Talking louder and more passionately will not change the system.

Yet, Jesus said, "What you hear in private, shout from the rooftops." Paul said, "Speak the word instantly, in season and out of season."

What is needed is far deeper assessment and insight than what we have at the present time.

Then listen to those dissenting voices from within the Evangelical community that traditional renewal leadership has marginalized, betrayed and abandoned.

We need God's instruction through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit for the
next step.


Have the current leaders of renewal NOT been getting God's instruction and leading?

Now is a fine time to tell us, though perhaps some have known this for some time now.

What is needed is a strategy informed by the Gospel carried out by those who have lived the Gospel.

 

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