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Greg Dell: A leader of nothing?

by Michael L. Gonzalez

July 21, 2000

You will find below the latest writings of Greg Dell, newly reinstated pastor of Broadway UMC (having completed his one-year suspension).

Pity poor Greg who laments that GC2000 demonstrated that the UMC is no longer "slouching toward Gomorrah."  So, why is Greg so concerned that the UMC is maintaining traditional Christian values on sexuality?  Isn't it obvious?  It's because Greg may no longer be in the spotlight, and that's really got him worried.   So, he's scheming to drum up a new movement so that he doesn't lose his prominent position in the media.

Sadly, it's all too obvious in his writing; Following are excerpts and analysis of Greg's writing:

The rise and fall of the fame of Greg Dell began when he foisted himself into a trial over a year ago for disobedience.  Simply being charged for the disobedience resulted in his face being plastered on newspapers, magazines, and even TV--a good start.  The trial itself brought more notoriety for Greg--even better.  In what at first appeared to be a disappointment for Greg (with the trial decision against him, and a suspension), turned into quite a rosy picture, with the help of some sleight of hand from C. Joseph Sprague, Greg managed to turn his punishment into a prize.  He managed to remain in his parsonage, and even pull down a salary from his appointed congregation (for being head of the IATC homosexual advocacy lobby).  This period of "punishment" afforded Greg the opportunity to be freed from the routine of pastor, to join the "jet set" and fly around the country on the lecture circuit, and to work in an effort to overturn the UMC doctrine in GC2000.  Wasn't this all convenient.   Here's how Greg accounts the history:

        From its beginning and in every one of its
        expressions, IATC directed its efforts toward the 2000
        General Conference. The signal work of the movement
        with AMAR (see the article, "Whither AMAR?" in this
        newsletter) completed that direction.

       The future? On June 30, 2000, my suspension and term
        as director of IATC came to an end. As you receive
        this I am serving again as pastor of Broadway Church.
       The congregation voted to maintain IATC for the next
        six months, during which time it expects to support
        further discernment and exploration for the future.
        The committee will continue to manage the database,
        and protect the assets of the organization. Sometime
        before July 2001, that committee will make a
        recommendation to the Broadway Church Council for the
        ongoing future of IATC.

But Greg and all UMC homosexual advocates found GC2000 to confirm their worst nightmare:  The UMC would remain faithful to the Bible, and not bless homosexual behavior (although, clearly accepting all people, including professed homosexuals, regardless of sin).

So, what would homosexual advocates who are part of the UMC do having been told so firmly by the GC2000 that their cause is not going to fly in the UMC?  Well, there's a lot of talk that they might as well leave the denomination.  Read how Greg tells it:

        Supporters of a more fully inclusive church have been
        trying to sort out the significance of our recent
        General Conference. It seems as though most of the
        analyses fall into two categories. There are those who
        believe that this assembly was not significantly
        different--except perhaps in consistency and
        degree--from all or most of the General Conferences
        since 1972. Others believe this was a significantly
        different meeting, that a "watershed" occurred and a
        character shift took place revealing a change in the
        identity and direction of the denomination. The IATC
        Committee tends to support this latter analysis.

        For IATC and others who find themselves with a similar
        reading of our denomination, it seems there could be
        four types of responses:

        1. Leave the Church:  No one has the right to remain
        in an abusive relationship. Some among us have
        concluded that "despite its protestations of love" the
        United Methodist Church is now--if it hasn't been for
        some time--an abusive family. It is a very personal
        decision to reach such a conclusion--even when done
        with consultation. Challenging such a response runs
        the risk of telling people that they cannot evaluate
        their own injury.

        2. Business Pretty Much as Usual:   Continue doing what
        we have done; continue doing it well and even better.
        Sooner or later the bigotry and ignorance will crumble.

        3. Re-Claim or Re-Create the Church:   Stay within the
        denomination, but radically shift the way we are
        organized. Interact with the denomination in some new

        4. Initiate a "Professing Church" model:  The
        following "thought piece" attempts to address this
        alternative. What is written below is only one
        possibility of perhaps a number that should be pursued
        (including all of the above). Whether a response like
        this comes to light will probably depend on the degree
        to which other alternatives are pursued.

I have to ask, since the homosexual advocates state clearly that they understand that the UMC is NOT going to abandon Christianity and move in their favor, why don't they take option #1 and go elsewhere?  Why must they FORCE their beliefs on the UMC?

Once you understand Greg Dell, you'll know why HE isn't advocating any of the logical choices above, but rather he is advocating #4.  You see, Greg Dell has all his apples in the UMC basket.  Because of his position in the UMC, up until now, he has been achieving exactly what he wants:  FAME!  Flat out, unadulterated, personal, egotistical, FAME!

What would Greg Dell have if the few homosexuals, and all the homosexual advocates left the UMC?  He'd have nothing!  So, now he has to invent another means to recreate a spotlight for himself.  In his own words, here is how he plans to do it:

        At the May 2000 General Conference, the United
        Methodist Church determined its position and identity
        not for just the next four years but for at least the
        coming decade [ooo, a decade, well, that should carry
        Greg to his retirement]. It was not only the decisive
        and consistent vote totals on issues relating to
        sexual orientation that support this conclusion. It
        was at least three other factors:

        1. The vote margins reversed the trend of gradual
        improvement seen since 1992. With the exception of
        more concerted work around elections of delegates at
        Annual Conference sessions, the religious right
        organized no better than supporters of full inclusion
        did. However, they organized a church constituency
        more inclined to express their "moderate" leanings in
        conservative directions than in progressive
        directions.  . . . They even were presented
        opportunities to reaffirm the majority position while
        providing room for the minority to continue in the
        church. They decisively rejected it all.   . . . The
        result is a denomination of mean-spirited rigidity.
        Grace has all but disappeared in favor of law.

        2. The new formula determining the distribution of
        delegates for the next General Conference assures that
        the vote margin will be greater in 2004 than it was
        this year.

        3. The newly elected Judicial Council is far more
        conservative than the one currently sitting.

        So what is to be done? Two alternatives have already
        been suggested.

        One proposal is that supporters of full inclusion just
        leave the denomination. As many have eloquently
        written, one doesn't remain in an abusive relationship
        and this has become abusive. Perhaps movement folks
        join the United Church of Christ or just find
        individually satisfactory congregations. Some have had
        it with the church and are leaving institutional
        Christianity altogether.

        The other proposal rests on the indignant insistence
        not to give "the other side" the satisfaction of
        throwing out the "undesirables" and dissenters. "Hell
        no, we won't go!" is the rallying cry. "We will stay
        and keep on doing what we have been doing or maybe
        just do more of it." Such a stance takes the form of
        everything from converting the church individual by
        individual to invading the unfriendly geographic
        regions with teams of folks to share perspectives with
        people who have previously done the rejecting.

        There is a third possibility: to create a "Professing
        Church" within our denomination. In candor, some would
        prefer simply to begin a new Methodist denomination.
        But, even if desirable, there are currently neither
        the resources nor the readiness to do so. A Professing
        Church would not presume that it would end up within
        the denomination or as a separate denomination. It
        simply puts into process a vision that gets shaped by
        the people who are part of it [namely, Greg Dell] and
        the events that occur within and around it. Part of
        its gift is that it does not presuppose its eventual
        relationship with the United Methodist Church.

        It would be a movement of progressive UM's who--while
        remaining in the denomination--would focus their
        efforts on aggressively recruiting from within the
        church and beyond people who are ready for a truly
        inclusive Methodist movement. Depending on its
        development the Professing Church could, like other
        groups have done, develop its own alternative
        structures and its own curricula for all levels and
        areas of Christian Education. [most important aspect
        to the longevity of the homosexual agenda:
        indoctrinate the children.]

        Such a movement could have at least a "collegial"
        relationship with the Reconciling Congregation Program
        (RCP), the Methodist Federation for Social Action
        (MFSA) and Affirmation. That could allow for those
        groups to continue their own identities as United
        Methodist movements. [but more importantly, it would
        allow for Greg Dell to be the leader of the new
        movement, completely autonimous of the other
        homosexual advocate organizations.] In fact one or
        more of these groups and movements could be part of
        the call for the Professing Church. Such a call could
        be in the form of a national convocation to shape the
        design and detail of the Professing Church. [ooo
        national spotlight would be perfect!]

        The Professing Church movement may not focus much
        energy on trying directly to affect the United
        Methodist Church. It might not even do much work for
        the next General Conference. [it would be very
        embarrasing for Greg Dell if he had to lead another
        losing agenda before GC2004--no, let's not really be
        involved with the UMC as a whole.]   [Rather, its]
        primary purpose would be to build a movement of
        sanctuary, preparation and witness for either a new
        denomination split from the UMC [if it generated
        enough money to pay Greg Dell] or an ongoing witness
        within it. That choice would be determined by the
        experience of the movement. [main experience is to
        "follow the money."]

        Is there readiness and energy for such a movement? If
        you have interest, questions or thoughts, please
        respond to: In All Things Charity. Email: Snail mail: IATC, 3344 N. Broadway,
        Chicago, IL 60657

Certainly the last thing that Greg Dell wants to see is a scattering of his fan club across the spectrum (so leaving the UMC individually is out).  Although he'd consider the option of forming a new denomination, he points out that money would be a problem--ya, it would be a problem because he'd lose his guaranteed salary and then retirement from the UMC!  Money DOES matter, doesn't it.  That leaves two options that meet the satisfaction of Greg Dell's ego and pocketbook:

1.  Keep doing the same thing as before, which is to effectively beat the UMC to submission by fighting it out in the court of secular public opinion (like using the DesPlaines Campground as a whipping boy).  This has had a very detrimental effect on the UMC as a whole, but what the hey, it benefits Greg Dell, and that's the important thing.

2.  Start a whole new movement of homosexual advocacy.  Ya, that's it, that's the ticket.  Sure, start the whole thing over again.  We'll need a new name, a new look, a new marketing campaign, and it's just what Greg Dell needs--FOR HIM!   Best of all, Greg gets to stay home, keep his assured salary (hey, his protector Joseph is bishop again), and stay in the spotlight for as long as he wants.  Ya, maybe those dreams of being a bishop are a long shot, but when he gets tired, he can retire and he'll only have to get arrested when he feels like a little "civil disobedience."

PS:  One might pass by the opening paragraph of Greg's writing, thinking there's no real significance to it, as it reads:

        Our delay in sending this issue of our newsletter has
        been intentional. We wanted to wait until some time
        had passed after the adjournment of General Conference
        2000. The idea was to give all of us some time to
        reflect, analyze and begin to formulate responses that
        might be faithful and appropriate. This process will
        continue for some time. However, some things are
        becoming clear.

I'll tell you what's become clear, C. JOSEPH SPRAGUE IS STILL BISHOP.  It would appear that Greg waited until after the Jurisdictional meetings to see if Sprague would be his high commander again.  Who holds the helm is obviously very important to Greg's scheming, isn't it.


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