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Pro-homosexuality Bishops Become Bar To More Faithful Clergy As UM Exodus Continues

Saying Goodbye to the United Methodist Church

In 1976, I joined the United Methodist Church in Harmans, Maryland. For nearly thirty years, I have been an active participant in this denomination. As a lay member, I have served as a Sunday School teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Council on Ministries Chair, Finance Committee Chair, and Administrative Board Chair. I became involved in a number of outreach and lay enrichment ministries such as the Walk to Emmaus and the Kairos Prison Ministry.

In 1996, my wife began the process of seminary studies and Candidacy to be Ordained within this denomination. At that time, I became involved in seminary and clergy spouse organizations. In 1999, I felt a call from God to enter into ordained ministry as well. I enrolled in the same seminary as she was attending (Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas).

In 2000, she began serving a two-point charge (two churches being served by a shared pastor) in Nixon and Dewville, Texas and began a three-year probationary period en-route ordination. The following year, I was appointed to serve the United Methodist congregation in Smiley, Texas. During her probationary period, she was seriously abused by the system, and in 2002, she was discontinued, and was not able to be ordained. The process which took place was decidedly inappropriate and unfair. (I will not drag out all the specifics here).

In 2003, when she was going to be ordained, I was also being commissioned as a probationary pastor. I entered into that probationary process with many misgivings. I was not at all sure that I wished to be ordained by the conference and denomination that had so mistreated my wife.

As I processed through this probationary period, now appointed at Shiner First United Methodist Church in Shiner, Texas, I found similar systemic failure and abuse to be taking place. Now, I am at the point where I am required to make a final decision about my own ordination within this denomination.

At the same time, I have been working and communicating with a number of pastors from within the United Methodist Church and former UMC pastors about many of the more “liberal” actions and statements being made by the higher leadership of the denomination. I have been saddened and angered by a desire on the part of many of the bishops within the UMC to speak out and work for full inclusion (including ordination) of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals. That situation really came to a head for me when the bishop who has recently been elected as the president of the UM Council of Bishops, Janice Riggle Huie, presided over one day’s session of our General Conference in 2004. A non-Methodist organization, “SoulForce,” representing the interests of Gay Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered persons in seeking for full inclusion and ordination in all churches was welcomed into the Conference Assembly by Bishop Huie so that they could “march in solidarity” through and among the more than 1,000 delegates and visitors. Additionally, Bishop Huie invited some of that group to partake of communion, at which time on lifted a ceramic chalice off the altar and smashed it to the floor, representing the brokenness of the church in opposing full inclusion.

All of these things weighed heavily on my heart over this probationary period. Finally, after much prayerful consideration, I have decided to officially withdraw from the candidacy process and accept ordination in a new denomination, the American Methodist Church. This withdrawal will officially take place on December 4th, 2005 at our churches annual Church Conference. Arrangements are now being made for both my wife and I to be ordained in the American Methodist Church during this same month of December. (Specific date, time, and place not yet chosen.) I have spoken with my District Superintendent, and will let him and the Bishop decide when and how I will be removed form the pulpit of the congregation at Shiner First United Methodist Church. I have truly been blessed by the opportunity to pastor the three churches with whom I have served, and fully intend to continue to serve the Lord as I perceive His call upon my life.

I ask your prayers and support as I move forward in this new phase of my life.

Joe McManus
Shiner, Texas

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