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Unofficial Laity Org Provides "Official" Information Regarding UM Doctrine And Bishops' Heresy

Note:  A media outlet which covers the United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Reporter, has posted a related story:  http://www.reporterinteractive.org/news/052803/dialogue.htm

 About The United Methodist Reporter: “Today, The United Methodist Reporter is recognized as a source of international religion news and a national forum for United Methodist opinion about faith issues.”  According to UMR, their print circulation is 250,000.

NIC VOICE provides a needed new voice for the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) of the United Methodist Church (UMC)

Crystal Lake, IL May 29, 2003  NIC VOICE is a growing network of concerned United Methodist Church (UMC) Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) lay persons whose purpose is to provide balanced information and dialog about Doctrinal Issues raised by the Bishop Sprague Complaint & Dismissal.

Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference, has been charged with "dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the UMC" and "disobedience to the Order and discipline of the UMC".  A transcript of the Bishop's recorded speech made at Iliff Seminary in Denver, Colorado was included and reference was made to his newly published controversial book, Affirmations of a Dissenter.

The complaint called for Bishop Sprague to recant his positions or be removed from office. Although a 'Supervisory Response Team' headed by Bishop Ough has dismissed these charges, the team "recognizes this [complaint] as a potential Watershed Moment in our denomination".

To become more fully informed about the book and the complaint, NIC VOICE has established a web site (www.nicvoice.org ) with resources for education, as well as laity speakers to assist UMC laity in examining the theology behind Bishop Sprague's controversial statements.  One of the resources on the web site is a downloadable Microsoft™ PowerPoint presentation which covers the history of the complaint, the key doctrinal issues, the complaint's dismissal and subsequent commentaries in order to provide balanced information within the Northern Illinois Conference. 

Upon invitation by interested congregations, the group will send a speaker to facilitate discussion and give the presentation; however, churches may elect to use one of their own members and utilize the resources on the www.nicvoice.org web site, including the Microsoft™ PowerPoint presentation. The NIC VOICE presentation includes various responses made by other Bishops and additional information pertinent to all NIC as well as UMC churches.  This is in harmony with the recommendations by the Supervisory Response Team's dismissal of charges. They urged that the laity become involved in the open process of "serious theological reflection on issues of Biblical Authority, Christology and the Mission of the Church".

Brenda Klockenga, one of the lay founders of NIC VOICE, explained, “The purpose is to educate laity and promote dialog regarding these important doctrinal issues by providing a comparison between the progressive interpretation based on Bishop Sprague's book and speech, related doctrinal statements from the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline, and scriptures from the Bible.  The presentation includes various views offered by three UMC bishops regarding these doctrinal issues, as well as a section including comments by the Response Team in their dismissal and Bishop Sprague's statement.”

She continued, “Bishop Sprague’s position in several foundational doctrinal areas is one that he has termed 'dissent', i.e., outside of orthodox Christian doctrine and in opposition to the United Methodist Articles of Faith in The Book of Discipline.  Bishop’s Sprague’s 'dissension' relative to The Book of Discipline and Scripture are important so that Methodists may understand why the complaint was filed.  The Christian faith stands on understanding who Jesus is and what He has done for all people.  There are opposing views on key issues.  For example, either Jesus was physically resurrected or He was not."  "Ultimately", Mrs. Klockenga added, "each person must decide for themselves what they believe about the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Mel Ingram, one of the lay founders of NIC VOICE, noted, “As a whole Church, United Methodists have some decisions to make in this Watershed Moment.  We would like the decisions to be informed ones.  We have made this available to Methodists everywhere so that they can ask their bishops and pastors what they believe about these issues.”

Another NIC VOICE network member, John Crissman, of Grayslake, IL notes, "This is an important time in our denomination and every United Methodist should be aware of these facts. The NIC VOICE presentation (http://www.nicvoice.org/presentation.htm) provides thorough, well-balanced information in an easy to understand format. Whether you agree or disagree, you will learn and be affected."

NIC VOICE network member, Joe Royston, Downers Grove, IL adds, "Once we have become better educated about these issues, we'll have the opportunity to confirm our beliefs and participate more fully within our conference and denomination."

 (Following is a picture of the home page (link provided instead) of the NIC VOICE web site, located at www.nicvoice.org)



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