North Arkansas AC Holds the Line On Homosexuality
Our young Confessing Movement candidate for General and Jurisdictional Conferences gained no ground in balloting from his original showing and in the end was not elected to any spot. The Liberal who was so far behind in the first ballot won election to the 4th and last spot for General Conference. I was told that the retired clergy switched to him, skipping younger, more conservative candidates. North Arkansas will probably give one vote outright to the gay rights agenda. We do not know what the other clergy will do, not for sure.
In the laity delegation to General Conference, our Confessing Movement candidates did much better. Karen Millar will have a chance to cancel the Liberal vote from the clergy side. Pray for her as she has a chance to influence others. Such prayers will not be wasted on Karen. Then we are fairly sure about Asa Whitaker as the Evangelical Caucus supported him. I do not know about the other two lay delegates.
The Confessing Movement "whip" told us that he had a deal with the moderates to help elect one of theirs in exchange for support for the Confessing Movement candidate. As I predicted to him last week, moderate support for "our guy" on the clergy side vanished into thin air.
A solid Asbury Evangelical Pastor got the 6th spot as they head for Jurisdictional Conference. He is the only clearly identifiable "Evangelical" in the clergy delegation so far. However, the Hispanic candidate we were supporting is conservative and won the 8th and final spot on the Jurisdictional team. That was one of our victories at the end. We are very proud to have Romiro Lizcano represent us. Moderates seem to have won the day in North Arkansas elections.
In a move to strengthen the present prohibition against same-sex ceremonies, at least 1/3 of the Conference voted against it and in favor of a substitute to "soften" (that's what the sponsor said) the prohibition so that Pastors could "be pastoral" (his words again) in some circumstances and perform the services. The original motion to put the prohibition in a stronger place in the Discipline, under Pastoral duties and responsibilities, passed. The petition was sponsored by a moderate.
The "be pastoral" in homosexual settings argument seems to be the favorite around here. How do we counter it? First, it disturbs me when "pastoral" means doing what people want you to do. To assume that loving people means to please them is the wholesale betrayal of leadership that we suffer in this Church and society today. Second, we must structure our lives, church government and ministry such that we clergy may say "no" to people FOR THEIR GOOD and yet trust in God for the vindication of truth. It seems to me that the blessings of an itinerant and connectional system are wasted on those who prefer celebrity status to the call of God. "If I were still pleasing people I should not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10c)
Yours in Christ,
Michael D. Hinton, M.Div. Pastor, Mayflower/Graham Chapel United Methodist Church 2 Center Road Mayflower, AR 72106 Ph. (501) 470-0539
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