Pacific Northwest UM Church Leadership Team Exposes UMC Use of Apportionment Dollars for Anti-christian Campaigns
UM church leaders struggle with paying apportionments, saying, “Can we continue to contribute to these causes?”
The following letter is authorized for publication by NIC VOICE and www.ucmpage.org by Scott & Julie Bean. It was sent by them to their church in April, 2004, for prayerful consideration and action. They have requested that details on apportionment dollars be omitted until final action has been determined. This letter has been revised for publication (addition of references, insertion of hyperlinks, and notation of authors and their positions).
To: Castle Rock United Methodist Church, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
Members of the Administrative Board
In light of recent events happening in the United Methodist Church, Julie and I have been doing research as to how our apportionment money is being spent and how consistently the discipline is being applied. We found the results to be quite disturbing. Last year, our church paid all of its apportionments in full. We paid a total of $xxxxxx in apportionments total. Approximately $xxxxx of these funds were required by the General Conference to pay for pensions and salaries for district and conference staffing. The additional $xxxxx was spent to support funds which are participating in questionable activities. Under the World Service Fund (WSF) several organizations such as the Global Board of Church and Society and General Board of Global Ministries Woman’s Division have clearly disregarded the wishes of General Conference and the Book of Discipline(BOD) in order to promote causes which are inconsistent with Christian faith. Among these causes is a push to normalize homosexual activities and promote homosexual clergy, to advocate all abortion on demand, and to incorporate non-Christian practices and other heresy into worship services through programs such as Reimagining Conferences. We feel the question our church needs to address is "Can we continue to contribute to these causes?" In order to help you understand the scope of the problem, we would like to share our findings.
We are all aware of the jury’s decision in the Dammann trial that Karen Dammann was indeed a self avowed practicing homosexual, but was not guilty of "practices declared by The UMC to be incompatible with Christian teachings" despite the fact the Book of Discipline in paragraph 304.3 says:
While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.
One member of the jury told Julie last year at Annual Conference that the Bible did not say anything against homosexual activity if she was just smart enough to read it correctly. Bishop Galvan stated he was pleased with the results of the trial. The attorney chosen by Bishop Galvan to prosecute the case indicated he was glad he lost. This individual did not call any witnesses except for Bishop Galvan, and the Bishop’s testimony was mostly regarding how faithfully he followed the steps to get to trial as opposed to why the trial was needed.
The Dammann trial verdict did not occur in a vacuum. The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference voted last year to send an openly gay pastor as well as an openly gay lay member to General Conference to represent us. In 1997, United Methodist Communications produced a video called "Adam and Steve" which discussed same sex marriage and Christian faith. Both the production costs and costs for airing the video on television came from apportionment money. The video laments the fact that homosexuals cannot marry in churches stating, "Jesus would open the doors". It goes on to suggest that Ruth and Naomi and David and Jonathan were both homosexual couples in the Bible. Recently, some reconciling churches have decided to stop all weddings in their sanctuaries until the General Conference relents and allows them to do same sex marriages. The Bishop of the Kansas City Area churches actually has voiced support for this action. The General Board of Church and Society filled a brief in the case several years ago before the Supreme Court asking them to rule against the Boy Scout organization stating, "While we would like to enthusiastically affirm and encourage this continuing partnership of the church and scouting we can not due to the Boy Scouts of America’s discrimination against gays". This put them at odds with the United Methodist Men who filled a brief supporting the Boy Scouts. There are several petitions proposed at general conference to either require the Boy Scouts to accept homosexuals or to have the UMC disassociate from the Scouts if they do not. The General Board of Church and Society has produced a study guide about homosexuality in the Bible. The GBCS has interpreted these verses differently from the way they have been historically viewed. As way of explanation for their viewpoint, they stated during Biblical times no one understood what homosexuality was and references to homosexual acts being forbidden were only because of temple prostitution and idolatry. Verses discussed include:
First UMC of Ellensburg, Karen Dammann’s home church, is promoting a play on their website which bashes organizations and ministries to individuals wanting to leave the gay lifestyle. From their website: "Join us for the hilarious presentation of Peterson Toscano’s one man comedy show Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House: How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement". The author states, "Gay reparative therapy is stupid and sad." This program is supposed to promote the idea that homosexuality is normal and trying to live as a heterosexual or ex-gay is impossible for these individuals. This attitude is prevalent among the leadership of our conference and as you can see is being promoted at every level of Church leadership.
The Book of Discipline does support abortion in some circumstances. However, the BOD does not support all abortion on demand; instead it calls for all life to be respected. Paragraph 161J states:
The Beginning of life and the ending of life are God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of the unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother for whom devastating damage may result from unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable form of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection. We oppose the use of late term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may warrant abortion. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth. Governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, pastoral, and other appropriate council.
In direct conflict with the provision opposing partial birth abortion, the Global Board of Church and Society sent representatives to President Clinton to lobby him to veto the Partial Birth Abortion ban when it was presented to him. The ban was defeated under Clinton. When the ban was reintroduced during President Bush’s term, they again sent leadership from the GBCS to try to convince him to do the same. Bush signed the Act anyway. The Global Board of Church and Society and The United Methodist Women’s Division are both part of an organization called "Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice". The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is sponsoring a pro-choice march later this month in Washington D.C. The GBCS is contributing apportionment money to sponsor this march. Other groups sponsoring this march include Basic Rights Oregon, an organization which is also promoting homosexual marriage in Multnomah County; Bitch Magazine; Gay and Lesbian Medical Association; Gay Men’s Health Crisis; the Iowa Socialist Party; and many more. Literature prepared by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice which again receives money supporting it from our apportionments states, "The term militant fundamentalist is used to denote those who are deeply committed to and actively involved in efforts to achieve their moralistic and religious goals through political processes. Other issues supported include opposition to gay rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, sex education, drugs and pornography. Militant fundamentalist are strongly anti-communist and advocate prayers in public schools, a hawkish foreign policy, and public support for private schools." These articles indicate fetuses are not a human life and that anyone who tries to argue that they are is threatening the freedom of women. Planned Parenthood, the country’s leading provider of abortions, has hired a Methodist minister, Dr. Ignacio Castuera, who stated "a fetus is not a child", to be the official chaplain for their organization. The position was created to counter the position that all Christians oppose abortion. The study guide regarding the issue of abortion, similar to the one on homosexuality, states in Genesis 38:8-10 Onan was punished for shirking his responsibility to impregnate his dead brother’s wife with the derisive remark that in those days individuals thought semen carried little people in it. They give multiple verses which discuss prenatal stages and conception but say the Bible does not address abortion inferring since there is no direct reference it must be ok. They do this in spite of the fact one of the verses they cite is Psalms 51:5 in which God is said to have created the psalmist in the womb.
Re-imagining, Inter-faith Operations and other Heresy
The first thing that came to mind when researching this issue was the report given to our congregation from our pastor about being offered Communion in a name other than Jesus Christ – that of Sophia. One program produced by the Council for Ecumenical Student Christian Ministry but partially sponsored by apportionment dollars called "Celebrate III" taught that God’s partner in Creation was Sophia. Several assemblies that the Women’s Division has funded and encouraged its staff and directors to attend have advocated worship of other female versions of God as well. In a 1982 UMW assembly, leaders invoked the Greek Goddess Gaia, stating "she managed the biosphere by herself very well". In 1993, the Re-Imagining Conference leaders made the following quotes:
While official sponsorship of these programs has stopped, individuals who are leaders in the Women’s Division still work on the Board for the Re-Imagining Community. In this vein, the new hymnal supplement called "The Faith We Sing", which is published by the United Methodist Publishing House contains several hymns which refer to God as "Mother" and refer to the divine womb. There is a petition in front of General Conference which asks the GC to encourage every church buy and use this book in its worship services and the use of more expansive terms for God to include feminine references.
A "Faith and Reason" video produced by United Methodist Communications features speakers who deny Christ’s claim to exclusive deity. The video highlights the teaching of Rev. D.L. Dykes who taught that Christ did not see himself as anything special and certainly not the son of God. In addition, Jesus Seminar leader Marcus Borg frequently is invited to speak at Methodist Seminaries, also supported through apportionment dollars. Borg considers himself a "panentheist". He defines his belief as, "Everything is part of God. There is no personal God". The Board of Global Ministries has more headquarters staff than missionaries. The reason for this? The agency features speakers that say missionaries are no longer necessary because other religions are no less true than Christianity. The agency gives millions of apportionment dollars to non-Christian causes every year. In addition, the faculty of United Methodist Illif Theological seminary are teaching that evangelism should be viewed as social justice as opposed to offering Jesus Christ as the answer to human sin during Illif’s annual Week of Lectures. Traditional evangelism was described as colonial expansion. Speakers dismissed orthodox Christianity especially when it came to missions. One speaker stated, "Missions have often meant the denial of the value of other traditions and demonized them." Another added, "I have questions from a religious perspective about evangelization aimed at seeking to have a conversion".
Even at the highest levels of power in the UMC, the basic tenets of Christian faith are being denied and leadership has refused to intervene. Bishop Sprague of the Northern Illinois Conference is openly denying the virgin birth, saying any language in the Bible which could be construed as saying Mary was a virgin was symbolic instead of literal; the resurrection, saying Christ may have been raised in spirit but not physically because it would break the laws of science and "God does not work that way"; and that Christ was God, saying since he was born to human parents he could be nothing more than human. He also maintains that any concept of a need for blood sacrifice and atonement is nothing more than idolatry offering "better methods of atonement instead". Charges were pressed by pastors in his area for heresy, but have been dropped by the Council of Bishops. Sprague does not honor the authority of the Bible. Instead, he views "Christology as the second most divisive issue in the Church today" and supports efforts to create a multi-faith world. In addition to Sprague, a UMC pastor wrote a book in which he tried to prove Christ was actually gay and in a homosexual relationship with another man "the disciple Jesus loved" from the text in John about the empty tomb. This pastor who also teaches at a seminary is also still in good standing with no charges being levied against him.
The willful disregard for Biblical teaching and the Book of Discipline cannot be ignored. If we do not take some action, we are condoning these activities.
2 John 1: 9-11: Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
Some possible actions our congregation could take would include redirection of the portion of the apportionments which are sent to support the programs described above which include: The World Service and Conference Benevolences, Ministerial Education and Black College Fund, and African University and Mission Initiatives. These three funds are budgeted at $xxxxx dollars for 2004. Some options used by other churches who have chosen to redirect their apportionment funding include placing all money in a trust fund or designated giving which directly sends money to UMCOR or other groups chosen by the church as faithfully upholding sound Biblically based ministry until the situation is resolved in a manner the local congregation approves. These churches are paying all funds directly to General Conference instead of their local annual conferences in many cases, and still must pay the three funds which are directly related to pension and administrative functions. For us, this would amount to $xxxxx for 2004.
Choosing to act in such a manner is not without potential consequences. The Annual Conference is not likely to ignore our actions. Be aware, there is already a rumor of the entire Pacific Northwest Conference being removed from the United Methodist Church. If this happens, we will no longer have the General Conference to protect us. Some retaliatory actions which could be taken by the Annual Conference include:
However, there may be steps we can take to minimize these potential risks if properly planned. For starters, the money in the Endowment fund should be moved from the conference sponsored fund it is in now to be placed in a private bank. The Board of Trustees can look at the deed for our building to see how the trust information is set up. Research has been done by Thomas Oden to look at the how the trust clause is structured and steps that can be taken to protect our building. Currently, other congregations which have already made these types of moves have filed law suits which are still pending in the civil courts to keep their buildings. If they are successful they would establish a precedent we could then follow if necessary. In addition, the Trustees must make sure that the teachings of our church strictly adhere to the discipline. If the conference chooses to remove Bonnie, and we sincerely pray this is not the case, our congregation could develop an alternate budget with a part time or conference minimum salary in case the new appointee does not teach acceptable doctrine.
Chair of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee
Julie Bean, lay member & lay delegate
Co-chair of the Endowment committee
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