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A Proposal to Houseclean The UMC

by Michael L. Gonzalez

September 8, 2002

When the conservative elements within the United Methodist Church consider bringing accountability to the denomination, the first assumption made is that the majority of people in attendance at the General Conference are evangelical (as opposed to liberal).  If this assumption is correct, then one would think that it is, in deed possible to achieve accountability and counteract the growing heresy and apostasy in the UMC.

The prevalent thoughts on this subject by the "energetic" souls within the UMC evangelical community, revolve around various concepts of systemic revisions to the structure of the UMC.  Let me posit a differing thought:  Is it the structure of the UMC which is the problem, or is the problem rooted in the people who occupy certain positions in the UMC?  I contend that if the problem people weren't in these certain positions (or if these people were transformed by God's power), then there would no longer be any need for talk of structural changes in the UMC.

So, instead of spending efforts trying to discipline all of the errant leadership, clergy, etc., why not concentrate on a plan that would allow/encourage the liberals to split from the UMC proper?

Some conferences of the UMC are so inundated with liberal clergy, that if you could ever discipline them all (a process that could take decades!), you'd be left with virtually no clergy at all in that conference; obviously, such a thorough housecleaning could never actually take place through one-by-one discipline.  Instead, in such conferences, why not allow/encourage the conference to leave the UMC en masse?  Simply allow/encourage the leadership of the wayward conference to decide to withdraw from the greater UMC, with all property intact!  In order to make the deal very attractive to that conference leadership, why not also turn over a healthy share of the UMC storehouse pension funds (etc.) to them, since money is their main focus anyway.

Of course even the most liberal conferences include great godly churches, and so part of the "deal" of allowing/encouraging the liberal conferences to "take the money and run" would be that any individual church in the departing conference would be free to vote to disengage from the departing conference, and remain a UMC church by joining the nearest conference which is NOT leaving the UMC.  With today's communications, geographic proximity of churches to their conference offices is not such an obstacle to overcome.  However, as another option, why not allow individual congregations within the departing conferences to vote to not only disengage from the wayward conference, but even disengage from the UMC all together, and simply become non-denominational, taking their property in tact?

Likewise, there are great godly pastors stuck in the wayward conferences, and each individual pastor would have to be given the option of separating from the departing conference, and thus be grafted into a different UMC conference.  Thus, congregations would have the option of departing with the wayward conference, or not, and independent of each congregation, each pastor would have the option of departing with the wayward conference, or asking for an appointment to a church in a faithful conference.

Why not just offer the wayward liberal conferences a healthy chunk of change?  The money alone may be enough to entice them, through greed, to leave.  It wouldn't matter how much money was left with the remnant UMC, because if the remnant UMC were faithful to God's will, He will bless His children with whatever funds would be necessary to do His work.  And the departing liberal conferences would be left to raise funds like any other secular organization; they would no longer be able to rob the faithful UMCers of their monetary gifts to God.

If the most liberal conferences (those who wish to discard the Book of Discipline) were to be jettisoned from the greater UMC, this would have a profound effect on bringing discipline to the fringes of ALL conferences which would remain in the UMC.  Even if only a few of the most vocal liberal elements were eliminated from the denomination, the focus of the UMC could turn around immediately.  For example, if the main liberal rabble rousers were no longer around to garner their liberal troops among the clergy, the liberal clergy would do one of two things:  either they would turn back to Christian teaching, or they would choose to depart the denomination.  Either way, the result would enable the UMC to bring discipline back to the whole.

An analogy to this phenomenon of housecleaning is seen in the secular world; for example, consider a police department which is rampant with corruption.  In such an organization, you have the corrupt leaders, and also there are the leaders who don't want to be corrupt, but they "go along" with the corruption.  In the ranks, you have those beat cops who know nothing other than corruption, but you also have cops who want to do right, but they cannot because of their corrupt leadership.  We've seen how the Feds straighten out such a corrupt police department:  They start by identifying the corrupt leaders, and weeding them out; then, the beat cops who know nothing but corruption are either removed by force when exposed, or they simply move on to commit their crimes elsewhere before they are found out.  Once the department leadership makes it clear that absolutely no corruption will be allowed among the troops, the rank-and-file eventually is cleared of the corruption.

What do you think?  Could this be the most expeditious means available to get the distractions out of the UMC?  Would this be an effective way to get the focus of the faithful UMCers back to doing God's work, instead of the seemingly eternal infighting, bickering, and ridiculous dialogues?  Why not let liberals go off and have their non-christian activities under some other banner, and end their derogatory slander of the UMC?



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