Faithful UM Pastoral Exodus Begins With North Carolina Pastor and The Voice of OrthoVox.org
Sent: Saturday, March 27, 2004 5:22 PM
Subject: Corrected and enhanced
Here's the corrected and enhanced version of my letter. It contains hyperlinks, corrects typos, adds some scripture references, etc.
Effective June 22, 2004 I will no longer
be an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. On that day I will
surrender my ordination credentials to the District Superintendent of the
Fayetteville District of the North Carolina Annual Conference. The next day,
June 23rd, I will take a position at an
Anglican Mission in America
church here in North Carolina for the purpose of planting a new Anglican Mission
church in the Research Triangle area.
I love and appreciate The United
Methodist Church. I came to know Jesus Christ in this denomination and received
an outstanding theological education at a premier United Methodist school: the
Divinity School of Duke University. For 17 years I have faithfully, and I think
effectively, served as a United Methodist pastor. Until Christ takes me home I
will enthusiastically embrace the Wesleyan heritage of vital piety centered in
holiness of heart and life that was instilled in me through the UMC.
Wonderful ministry is happening
throughout the UMC as the Good News about Jesus is preached and lived out in
faithful discipleship in its congregations. Powerful missions of healing and
deliverance continue to bubble up from local churches and annual conferences
throughout the connection. Even as an Anglican priest I will continue to be a
supporter of and apologist for the authentic Christian ministry and mission
embodied in The United Methodist Church.
My family and I are grieved at leaving
our beloved denomination, yet we are filled with excitement and joy at being
involved in ministry in the new movement known as
The Anglican Mission in
America. That which we love best about United Methodism is present, and
even more robustly demonstrated, in the AMiA.
Several people have asked me how I
arrived at the decision to change ecclesial communions. This decision was not
made overnight or in a fit of pique. Let me state firmly that I have no desire
to start an ecclesial insurrection or lead an exodus out of the UMC.
Nevertheless, the genesis of this decision was indeed a point of conscience
which quickly became a sense of a positive vocation – a call of the Holy Spirit
– to be involved in a fresh move of God embodied in the historic Anglican
I do not want to belabor the point, but
for the purpose of clarity I will explain how this process began. The point of
conscience presented itself in February of 2003 with the refusal of the North
Central Jurisdiction to deal with the overt heresy of Bp. Joseph Sprague, even
charges had been brought against the errant leader. As an elder of the
Church I had vowed to “…be loyal to the United Methodist Church, accepting its
order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline… and accepting the authority of those
who are appointed to supervise [my] ministry.” One consequence of this vow of
obedience was that I had to support and endorse funding Bp. Sprague’s heretical
“ministry” by encouraging the local church to fully accept the
(monies paid by the local church to the denomination). The “Episcopal
Fund” share of the apportionments pays the salary of the likes of Sprague.
In stark contrast to this, my commitment
to Christ demanded that I oppose heresy and those who promulgate false teaching
(cf. Matthew 7:15-23; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 4:1-7; 1
Timothy 6:3-5, 20-21; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Titus 1:10-14; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John
4:1-6; Jude 3). Since the Church would not censure or discipline Bp. Sprague, I
determined that I was compelled to choose faithfulness to Jesus Christ over my
vow to support the denomination. Further, if I remained in the UMC and did not
fulfill my vow to uphold the doctrine and discipline of the denomination by
refusing to endorse the apportionments then I would be no better than Bp.
Sprague in his refusal to honor the teaching of our Church.
I realize that not everyone would come
to this conclusion, but I believe that conscience demanded I surrender my
elder’s orders rather than honor a vow that put me at odds with loyalty to Jesus
Christ and the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
However, that point of conscience merely
served to open my heart to hear the call of the Holy Spirit to be involved in
planting churches in The
Anglican Mission in America. This movement is closer to the center of the
Great Tradition of the Church than many Protestant sects, stalwartly stands upon
the Holy Scriptures as God’s authoritative Word, and embraces the present
working of the Holy Spirit. The emphasis on
mission and church
planting within the AMiA fueled the passion I already had to plant churches
committed authentic Christian community and radical obedience to Jesus Christ.
Moreover, the Anglican Mission stands in solidarity with the Global South and is
under the oversight of the Anglican Archbishops of Rwanda and Southeast Asia.
So I leave The United Methodist Church
with a heart full of gratitude and love for the denomination that led me to
accept Christ, taught me the Scriptures, nourished me with the sacraments, and
equipped me for ministry. Our Bishop, the Rev. Marion Edwards, has been
supportive and sympathetic towards my family and I as we make this transition.
Similarly, my District Superintendent, the Rev. David O. Malloy, has embodied
tenderness, love, and pastoral concern as he relates to my wife, my children,
and me. I will always hold a tremendous amount of affection for the colleagues
I have served with and the churches I have shepherded.
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