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Overhaul Apportionments from the Bottom UP!

by Michael L. Gonzalez

January 23, 2001


The United Methodist Church is a connectional denomination, and that means, among other things, that monetary resources are shared.  In both Christian and secular principle, this sounds more than reasonable, it sounds best.  However, as apostasy has spread through the UMC, the system of sharing monetary resources--the apportionment system--has gone awry.

Not long ago, when I started to go beyond warming a pew as a UMC member, I challenged my pastor about our congregation providing money to the conference, which in turn sends much of the money to UMC boards and agencies that simply don't hold to UMC doctrine and Biblical teachings.  The pastor told me that just like paying taxes to the Federal government, even though we may disagree with some uses that our dollars fund, we must none-the-less pay up and forget it.  Besides, the pastor continued, it's such a small percentage of our church offering, and it's probably a small percentage of the UMC spending that we might challenge anyway.

Obviously, likening my church to the IRS and government programs only caused me more consternation; who wants to belong to a church that is like the Federal government, in either structure or accomplishment?  Furthermore, telling me that since it's such a small amount of my offering that goes to support causes for which Christians are supposed to work against, not in favor of, really got my dander up; if we don't stand 100% behind our Christian principles in our church, then where will we ever stand up and proclaim Christ?

What the UMC needs is an overhaul of its connectional system, and the best place to start is the fuel of this engine--apportionments.

There's a strange (and wrong) situation in the UMC.  At the low end, most members don't even know what apportionments are, much less how the system works, and thus they don't know where their money is going and what it is being used to accomplish.  At the top end, you have the recipients of the apportionment dollars--UMC boards and agencies--which act with reckless autonomy, spending the members' money on causes that conflict with UMC doctrine and Biblical teaching.  Along side these money mongers at the top you have the UMC bishops who are fully aware of the blasphemous actions of the boards and agencies, but who remain silent and watch the abominable behavior.  Then, you have the UMC pastors, who are often marginally uninformed of the details of the UMC boards and agencies, and who want to get "good marks" from their episcopacy by encouraging their parishioners to provide the local church's full share of apportionments.  And lastly, you have the UMC pastors who are fully aware of the corruption of the UMC hierarchy, and what are their choices with regard to doing the Christian thing?  They can either come through with the apportionment money from their congregation, or they can expect a punitive appointment, or worse, they may find themselves disciplined and eventually defrocked.

However, once again we see how the Lord works in mysterious ways, as the door has now been opened for UMC pastors to educate their congregations specifically to the corruption of the hierarchy, and thus allow the membership, either individually or collectively, to affect the flow of apportionments to the connectional system.  And what vehicle has God chosen to bring this opportunity to good Christian pastors in the UMC?  Why none other than C. Joseph Sprague and his protégé Greg Dell!

Yes, it appears that the Lord, by His Sovereign Will, has used a pair of humans who have defiantly shunned the Word of God, in order to accomplish His Divine Plan!

If you haven't heard the recent UMC news of the week (I see that the United Methodist News Service isn't reporting this story), C. Joseph Sprague, in the position of bishop for the Northern Illinois Conference, conducted the charge conference this year (January 14, 2001) at Greg Dell's Broadway UMC.  And at that meeting, Sprague condoned the advocacy of the church members withholding apportionments because of disagreement with UMC General Conference actions.

CHURCH DECIDES TO REMAIN METHODIST BUT STAY DEFIANT 

By Evan Osnos 
Chicago Tribune Staff Writer 
January 15, 2001 

A defiant North Side parish balked Sunday at the chance to cut ties with the United Methodist church and voted instead to continue skirting rules barring gay-union ceremonies.

The decision by members of Broadway United Methodist Church averts for now a break with denomination leaders, whose feud with Broadway Rev. Gregory Dell has been at the heart of gay-rights campaigns in mainline Protestantism.

The vote Sunday vote allows members to continue holding gay-union ceremonies off church premises, where church law allows Dell to witness--but not formally conduct--the events.

"It is certainly not a commitment to back down from any kind of resistance or insistence that there be change," Dell said after the vote. "It is a commitment to remain in the United Methodist Church for that struggle."

"Technically we're still within the bounds of United Methodist law," Dell said. "But we're not a naive people, and we understand that the forces of exclusion and bigotry will not rest."

The vote result also could strain the church financially. Members will be allowed to restrict their donations from being used as dues to the national denomination. With those obligations totaling $18,000 to $20,000 annually, Dell said the new burden could be substantial.

"We're not going to ask people to give money to a denomination that they basically feel is demonic in its attitude toward gay and lesbian persons," Dell said. "We need to find a way to respond to that choice."

Chicago's United Methodist Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, who has defended Dell's actions, sanctions the strategy and applauded Sunday's decision. He also noted more clashes could lie ahead.

"This issue is not ended," he said. "It is like racism, sexism, all elitism. As long as there is exclusion there is work to be done."

Rev. James V. Heidinger II, publisher of the Methodist evangelical magazine, Good News, and a frequent critic of Dell's said he still objects to a practice "that really violates the spirit, if not the letter" of church law.

"They'll find a way around whatever they can," he said. "A church that is just bent on violating its own church's standards really ought to struggle with whether they can stay in the denomination."

If you're questioning that Sprague would conduct the charge conference (because you've never had a bishop at your church's charge conference), here's what it says at the Broadway UMC website:
Presiding at the meeting will be Bishop Joseph Sprague, the presiding Bishop of the Chicago area of the United Methodist Church. By Discipline All Church (Charge) Conferences must have as a presiding officer, an elder in full connection in the United Methodist Church. While most often that is the district superintendent, other elders may be designated by the superintendent to fulfill that responsibility. At our district superintendent, Dr. Marti Scott's request, Bishop Sprague has agreed to preside over our annual meeting.
Isn't it not at all surprising that where ever there are people trying to destroy Christianity, you'll also find Sprague there.

In Cleveland last May at the UMC GC2000, Sprague spoke at the Soulforce rally the evening before one of his two arrests in Cleveland, and Sprague looked just like all the other Soulforce homosexual advocate leaders who spoke, one after another from the podium, about what's wrong with the UMC because it doesn't bless homosexual behavior.

So what's Soulforce up to?  They're advocating UMC'ers withhold apportionments also!  That's right, an organization that supposedly has no affiliation with the UMC, issued a statement advocating that practicing homosexuals strangle their Christian churches monetarily for not blessing their sin, and isn't it so coincidental that they make this announcement on the day following Sprague's blessing of the same action at Greg Dell's Broadway UMC!

January 15, 2001

SOULFORCE ALERT: STAGE II BEGINS

For the past 14 months, Soulforce has been engaged in Stage I of our Soulforce Campaign to STOP SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE.

It is time to begin Stage II of our Soulforce Campaign to STOP SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE. Our deeply moving vigils and symbolic arrests have announced our presence and demonstrated our concerns. But these nonviolent direct actions are just the beginning of our Soulforce Campaign.

Stage II of our Soulforce Campaign to STOP SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE begins when one by one, each of us takes a stand (any stand, large or small) to quit supporting the oppression.

If you are in a local congregation that does not support the full inclusion of God's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered children:

From this moment until the oppression ends, when the plate is passed, don't give your usual tithes, offerings, or special gifts.

Withholding your financial support is NOT meant to punish your church. Your tithes or offerings may not even make a dent in the church budget anyway. This act of spiritual resistance IS FOR YOU! When you place that note in the offering plate, you are reclaiming your dignity, asserting your worth, demanding your full acceptance as a child of God. You are ending your silence and finding your voice. We can STOP SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE best when we finally refuse to support it.

You might include on your note the name of the organization that you will support with your tithes and offerings and why you will support them. Or, if you don't need a tax deduction, you can deposit your funds into a savings account for the church on that day when they become a welcoming and affirming congregation.

Ask your pastor or priest what percentage of the church budget goes to the denomination. Withhold that percentage from your tithes and offerings and place a note in the plate that makes clear why you are taking this action.

Or, write clearly on the check what percentage of your offering must be forwarded to an organization that does justice or loves mercy FOR ALL God's children. When an offering is designated, it must be used in that way. If, for example, you designate it to a local HIV/AIDS service organization, the church treasurer has to send it to that organization and even include the organization's name in the year end financial report.

Stage II will be introduced in small steps. This first step has to do with our treasure. We'll roll out suggestions for time and talent later. If you have a suggestion, email us today. But in the meantime, let's mobilize thousands of our friends and allies to withhold or designate their tithes, offerings, and special gifts.

Do you think for a minute that Sprague, Greg Dell, and Mel White of Soulforce don't have conversations?  You'd have to be extremely naïve to believe that there's no connection between the action of Broadway UMC, with Sprague leading the meeting, and the following day's call to action by Soulforce.

So, here you have the homosexual advocates in the UMC (and beyond) calling for the withholding of apportionments because the UMC won't bless their sinful behavior.  And, what do you have the UMC using your apportionment money to fund?  Read on.

And in the same week, the Interfaith Alliance (another radical liberal organization funded by UMC apportionment dollars) issued a statement critical of President Bush's choice for Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

Excerpt from a statement from Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, executive director of The Interfaith Alliance to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary as to The Nomination of U.S. Senator John Ashcroft For U.S. Attorney General:

It is our concern that Senator Ashcroft, as Attorney General, would be hostile to the vigorous defense of [the First Amendment of our Constitution].  For example, at a 1998 gathering of the Christian Coalition, Senator Ashcroft said of these precedents, "A robed elite have taken the wall of separation built to protect the church and made it a wall of religious oppression. They may try to take prayer from our schools, but they can never steal God from our hearts. I believe that we must continue across this land to fight for our God-given right to acknowledge and affirm our Creator." 
Yes, now you've read it for yourself.  Your UMC apportionment dollars are being used to lobby the U.S. Senators to vote against one of the most vocally Christian persons to be slated for a high government position because he wants to fight for the essentials of Christianity!

Isn't it enough that the atheists are fighting against Christians in government office?  Why is the UMC supporting a group that is hostile toward Christianity?  It's beginning to appear (based on distribution of its money) that the UMC itself is actually hostile toward Christianity!

Haven't you just about heard enough?  Isn't it time to just say NO to the UMC apportionments being used by UMC boards, agencies, and only God knows what else to destroy Christianity and denigrate UMC doctrine and Scriptural Authority?

If you're not fed up yet, study for yourself just what your apportionment dollars are being used for.  Here's a few starting points for you (click on the article description to view the entire article):

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It is time now for this challenge to everyone of the UMC:

Rank-and-file members of the UMC, educate yourselves of the facts about the UMC boards and agencies, and discover what you are funding with your church offerings.  As you become informed, provide the information to your fellow church members.  Identify activities by the UMC organizations and money they spend on wrong-headed projects and outside organizations and associations.  Determine a means by which you can continue to support your local church financially, as well as the sound aspects of the UMC connectional system without aiding the denomination activities with which you disagree.

Congregations of the UMC, disseminate facts about the UMC boards and agencies to all of your local church members, as well as to other UMC churches.  Take action collectively through church councils and administrative councils to provide to the connectional system only the apportionment dollars which will fund the denomination activities with which you agree.  Use creative means to provide your members with opportunities to provide financially to the local church, but allow the members to "give their conscience" with regard to use of their funds to pay apportionments.

Pastors of the UMC, act by your Christian conscience.  If UMC pastors collectively refuse to bow down to the idol as a slave of the appointment system, there's nothing that that the episcopacy can do except respond to the lot of the pastors with respect for such dedication to faith.  The UMC bishops, with their pact of silence with regard to criticism of other bishops, ironically have no choice now but to remain silent in regard to congregations' disposition of apportionments.  The bishops cannot speak out, lest they criticize their cohort Sprague, and his blessing of apportionment tactics with regard to the homosexual advocacy.

It's sad to have to say this, but it appears that only money talks to the UMC bishops and other leaders at the top.  So long as the money keeps flowing into UMC coffers, the UMC bishops and leaders will be satisfied to maintain the status quo.  WE NEED TO WAKE THEM UP!  KNOCK THEM OFF THEIR CHAIRS!  We need to tell these people that we're not their patsies anymore.  We will no longer blindly provide them money for their boondoggles.

That's right, if the money dries up, the UMC bishops and other leaders will then have to be accountable to the rank-and-file memberships, along with their good shepherds (the pastors).  Only when the top end returns to serving instead of being served will the UMC be able to claim the crown of being a disciple of Christ.

 

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