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When you know you're right

by Michael L. Gonzalez

November 28, 2000


You know the situation:  You attempt to educate the masses on issue after issue in order to help them understand that your position is the right position, and you back up your viewpoint with very reasonable arguments and information; You work for years to rally your best supporters; You've now got the media convinced that your position is the right position; Finally, you've got the system of persuading the voters to your point of view honed to a fine art;  Along with the media, on paper, it would appear that everything is going your way.

BUT, in spite of all this, no matter how hard you try, after four years of all your efforts, the people continue to provide far less than a definitive majority in the votes, and the opposition still manages a convincing argument against you, and so you wonder just how you're ever going to come up with just a small number of additional votes to get just enough votes to put you over the top.

One thing you can't do is to simply allow the apparent majority to rule, because you know that the majority is simply WRONG!  Rather, you know that your position is the right position for the people, and you owe it to the people to ensure that your position is the one by which the people must live.

I'm sure you know what topic I'm discussing.  That's right, I'm discussing the UMNS article in which the liberals are crying about their minority status in the UMC.  In this article, you'll see how the liberals are trying to change the rules of the UMC "game" in order to gain power.

Church experiencing Southern 'captivity,' says retired editor
Nov. 27, 2000 News media contact: Thomas S. McAnally
By United Methodist News Service

The United Methodist Church has become captive to its two Southern jurisdictions, according to the Rev. Keith Pohl, longtime church editor and commentator. 

In a two-part commentary appearing in the Michigan Christian Advocate newspaper, Pohl says the Southeastern and South Central Jurisdictions of the church -- which made up the former Methodist Episcopal Church, South -- now hold enough delegates to sway the General Conference to their agendas. The Methodist Episcopal Church, a predecessor denomination of the United Methodist Church, split during the time of the Civil War and reunited in 1939.

Pohl, former editor of the Michigan Christian Advocate and Circuit Rider, a national journal for United Methodist clergy, contends that the new legislation will further strengthen what he calls in his title "The Southern Captivity of The United Methodist Church."

The denomination has five U.S. jurisdictions: Northeastern, with 1.6 million members; North Central, 1.6  million; Western, 443,815; Southeastern, 2.9 million; and South Central, 1.8 million. The combined membership of the two Southern jurisdictions is slightly more than the total number of members in the other three.

In part 1 of his commentary, Pohl lifts up the well-organized Southeastern Jurisdiction, which has its own staff and executive, as an example of Southern power. "When the delegations from that jurisdiction come to General Conference, they come prepared and organized, seemingly with collaboration from the South Central Jurisdiction," Pohl writes in the Nov. 13 Michigan Christian Advocate. "Vital to the business of the General Conference is the election of legislative committee officers -- chairpersons and secretaries. These elected leaders decide what and how the various petitions assigned to the committee are to be handled."

Of the 10 legislative committees at the most recent conference in Cleveland, Pohl notes that six chairpeople and six secretaries were from the two Southern jurisdictions, leaving four chairpeople and other officers from the other three jurisdictions.

The author here seems to be troubled that his "opposition" is too well organized.  Well, first of all, why would effective Christian organization be criticized to begin with, and secondly, the liberals should be very proud of the likes of the Northern Illinois Conference which provided a virtual solid block of pro-homosexual agenda votes, even though less than 7/10ths of one percent of the membership in the NIC has signed onto the homosexual agenda.  Now, that's a well-organized group of activists.
He also points to the election of six of nine members to the church's Judicial Council as an example of Southern captivity. One member of the church's "supreme court" is from the North Central Jurisdiction, one from the Western, one from outside the United States, none from the Northeastern, three from the Southeastern, and three from the South Central. A motion at the General Conference to ensure that at least one of the Judicial Council members would come from each of the five U.S. jurisdictions was defeated.

Pohl says his experience with United Methodist culture in the South "leaves me to conclude that theologically (with the exception of the understanding of baptism) Methodism in the South, generally, has more in common with the Southern Baptists than ... with the United Methodist churches in the North."

"Congregations in every section of the country tend to reflect the environment in which they exist," Pohl writes, "and they are often shaped by the dominant regional culture. Differences in customs, history, belief systems, including politics and religion, explain why sections of the country continue to be in tension in an effort to keep their future as it has been in the past. These differences are not simply a matter of placement on a liberal-conservative continuum -- historically the North tends to slide to the left and the South to the right. But the practical impact of their belief systems creates a struggle for control to preserve ‘our way of life' when in a large national and international union."

How can this diversity between the south and the north be an issue to be lamented, when the liberals celebrate pluralism to an extreme?  Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot--diversity is only welcomed by the liberals when it means an increase in liberalism, or simply a diversity of liberalism.
In part two, to be published Nov. 27, Pohl suggests some remedies. These include having each jurisdiction organize and arrive at the General Conference prepared, using the Southeastern and South Central regions as models.

He also suggests that jurisdictional boundaries be changed. "Perhaps Virginia should become a part of the Northeastern Jurisdiction; Kentucky and Tennessee [a part of] the North Central. Perhaps the Dakotas (now in the North Central), Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico [and] part of Texas should become part of the Western Jurisdiction, which covers the largest amount of territory but has the smallest fraction of the United Methodist Church membership." Pohl concludes that it is time for the jurisdictional boundaries, largely set in 1939, to be redrawn and rebalanced.

Ever heard of the term "gerrymandering?"
"Perhaps the whole jurisdictional system has seen its days and should be eliminated," Pohl writes. The main task of the jurisdictional conferences held every four years is to elect and assign bishops, something that Pohl says could be done by the General Conference. Another alternative he suggests is letting each annual conference (or area) elect its own bishop with no more than a 12-year tenure.

Pohl also raises the possibility of decentralization. "Why not let each annual conference be permitted to develop its own Book of Discipline within a general constitution set by the General Conference? Why don't we have jurisdictional and annual conference judicial councils, something like the federal district court system?"

OK, now we finally get down to the brass tacks.  Discard that dusty old Book of Discipline, and thus set us free from all these rules!

Gee, I thought Good News already proposed letting the liberals leave the denomination, even with their local church property intact.  Alas, this hasn't taken hold at the General Conference--yet.

National diversity is a major asset of the United Methodist Church, he says. "Although it is second in membership to the Southern Baptists among the Protestant churches, it is first in its geographical spread across the nation. It is rarely first in numbers anywhere, but it is usually second or third everywhere. In my opinion, no section of the country with its cultural history and theological world view should hold the entire whole captive."
Well, we know what methods the liberals use in American politics to gain an advantage.  What method do you think the UMC liberals will use to gain an advantage?

In conclusion, I have one final question to ask about this "problem:"   What has any of this got to do with Christianity?

 

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