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Following feedback from the president of the Council of Bishops, the United Methodist News Service has deleted a story released earlier this week and replaced it with a revised version, but not before the earlier version became the basis of a Religion News Service account published by USA Today and other newspapers.

The earlier account, which reported that annual conferences in the U.S. had “defeated” 23 proposed amendments to the UM Constitution aimed at restructuring the United Methodist Church into a collection of “regional” conferences, apparently failed give sufficient weight to the fact that members of some non-U.S. annual conferences have yet to cast their votes.

Original version, left; revised, right

Original version at left; revised version at right

The lead paragraph of the earlier version reported that “United Methodists across the United States have defeated 23 proposed amendments that would have paved the way to make the church in the U.S. a regional body.”

The lead paragraph of the revised version reports instead that “United Methodists in the U.S. have largely voted against 23 proposed amendments that would change the structure of the church, but voting is ongoing in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.”

In an e-mail advisory issued on July 30, the news service said that Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the UM Council of Bishops, had “note[d] the council office where the reports are being sent has not done any tally at this point and will not be doing any until the receipt of all conference reports.” (That same wording is included in the revised story.)

The revised UMNS account also reports that the worldwide vote will not be certified and announced by the Council of Bishops until next spring. During the 2009 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference, Bishop Mike Watson had said that certification and the announcement of results likely would occur at the Council of Bishops gathering this fall.

Even though some non-U.S. conference have not completed the voting process, the United Methodist renewal group, Good News, has projected — based on voting totals already announced — that the restructuring amendments will fail.

Good News also has projected the defeat of Amendment I, which would have altered language in the UM Constitution related to membership.

In a July 17 web posting, Good News noted that 50 U.S. conferences, “representing at least 88% of the total votes cast in the [United States] and approximately 82% of the votes worldwide, have publicly shared with all United Methodists their vote tallies on the proposed amendments.”

The already published votes, Good News concluded, indicate that not enough votes remain among potential votes from conferences outside the U.S., even when added to non-published U.S. votes, to change the “No” outcome for either the restructuring amendments or Amendment I.

Below is a list of all 135 UMC annual conferences. If a conference name has a link assigned, click the link to see the results from that conference’s vote on the proposed constitutional amendments. (If you know of web-published results not linked below, please e-mail the URL to MethodistThinker.com.)

A one-page spreadsheet with tallies of all the published results for Amendment I and the five main restructuring amendments — IV, X, XIII, XXIII, and XXVI — is here (PDF).

Alabama-West Florida (PDF)
Alaska
Arkansas
Austria Provisional
Baltimore-Washington
Bicol Philippines Provisional
Bulacan Philippines
Bulgaria Provisional
California-Nevada (PDF)
California-Pacific
Central Congo
Central Luzon
Central Pennsylvania (PDF)
Central Texas
Central Russia
Cote d’Ivoire
Czech & Slovak Republics
Dakotas (PDF, p. 4)
Denmark
Desert Southwest (PDF)
Detroit
East Africa
East Congo
East Germany
East Mindanao Philippines
East Ohio (PDF)
East Zimbabwe
Eastern Angola
Eastern Pennsylvania
Eastern Russia & Kazakhstan Prov
Estonia
Finland-Finnish Provisional
Finland-Swedish Provisional
Florida
Greater New Jersey
Gwaten Nigeria
Holston
Hungary Provisional
Illinois Great Rivers
Indiana (PDF)
Iowa (PDF, p. 2)
Kansas East
Kansas West
Kasai Provisional
Kentucky
Kivu Provisional
Liberia
Louisiana
Lukoshi
Malawi Provisional
Memphis
Middle Philippines
Mindanao Philippines
Minnesota
Mississippi (PDF)
Missouri
Mozambique North
Mozambique South
Nebraska (PDF)
New England
New Mexico
New York
North Alabama
North Carolina (PDF)
North Central New York
North Central Philippines
North Georgia
North Germany
North Katanga
North Texas (PDF)
Northeast Luzon Philippines
Northeast Philippines
Northern Illinois
Northern Philippines
North-West Katanga
Northwest Mindanao Philippines
Northwest Philippines
Northwest Russia Provisional
Northwest Texas
Norway
Oklahoma (amendment #’s not
consistent w/ other conferences)
Oklahoma Indian Missionary
Oregon-Idaho (PDF, p. 16)
Oriental & Equator
Pacific Northwest (PDF)
Palawan Philippines
Pampango Philippines
Pangasinan Philippines
Peninsula-Delaware
Pero Nigeria
Philippines
Philippines-Cavite
Philippines East
Poland
Quezon City Philippines East
Red Bird Missionary
Rio Grande (PDF)
Rocky Mountain
Serbia/Macedonia Provisional
Sierra Leone
South Africa Provisional
South Carolina
South Congo
South Georgia (PDF)
South Germany
Southern Nigeria
Southern Russia Provisional
Southern Tagalog Provisional
South-West Katanga
Southwest Philippines Provisional
Southwest Texas
Sweden
Switzerland-France
Tanganyika/Tanzania
Tarlac Philippines
Tennessee
Texas
Troy
Ukraine & Moldova Provisional
Virginia
Visayas Philippines
West Congo
West Michigan
West Middle Philippines
West Ohio
West Virginia (PDF, p. 3)
West Zimbabwe
Western Angola
Western New York
Western North Carolina (PDF)
Western Pennsylvania (Excel)
Wisconsin (PDF)
Wyoming
Yellowstone (PDF)
Zambia Provisional

Related posts
Good News projects defeat of controversial amendments
Bill Bouknight: Methodists are saying ‘No’ to their leaders
North Georgia overwhelmingly disapproves restructuring amendments
Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’
Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments
African UM leader on amendments: ‘We should have been consulted’
A ‘procedural’ argument against Amendment I

Related articles and information
Full text of all 32 amendments, showing how each would alter the current language of the United Methodist Book of Discipline—material stricken through would be deleted; material in bold/blue would be added (PDF)
We Confess newsletter (PDF) | Confessing Movement (May/June 2009)
Worldwide decision: United Methodists to vote on amending constitution | Bill Fentum, UM Reporter (April 10, 2009)
Which way to a Worldwide Church? (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 31, 2009)
A rationale to oppose proposed constitutional changes | Tim McClendon, Columbia District Superintendent, South Carolina Conference
The worldwide Methodist movement | Eddie Fox, Interpreter Magazine (Web-only article—March 31, 2009)
Conferences to consider church structure | Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (March 10, 2009)
Amendment I (without the baggage) (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 18, 2009)
United Methodism in crisis: Scriptural renewal through the Good News Movement | Chapter 4 of Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Life by Steven M. Tipton (University of Chicago Press, 2008 — via Google Books)
40 years of vision for United Methodist reformation and renewal (PDF) | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (November/December 2007)

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As part of its new Rethink Church campaign, United Methodist Communications has produced a captivating and challenging three-minute video aimed a fueling the sanctified imagination of local church leaders.

The video — titled “What If” — asks penetrating questions, such as:

  • What if “church” wasn’t just a place we go but something we do?
  • What if “church” was the way church was in the beginning — outbound, unbound, active?
  • What if “church” looked at itself with seekers’ eyes, recognizing that even the smallest step through one of our doors is an act of courage, a moment of vulnerability?
  • What if “church” was more of an out-of-church experience, an opportunity to prove what we say we believe with our lives?

“What If” is a top-notch piece of work, with effective visuals, music, scripting, narration, and editing.

Unfortunately, the script never mentions Jesus Christ — a rather startling omission, especially in a piece targeted to people who are already church members and, one would suppose, disciples of Jesus. (The video prefers to focus on amorphous concepts such as “journey,” “belief,” and “discovery.”) Nor does “What If” acknowledge the role of the Holy Spirit in empowering the church to be what God intends.

Still, the video is inspirational — and local church leaders can easily follow a showing of the video with additional questions, such as: “What if we stopped focusing on ourselves and started asking God to show us kingdom opportunities — opportunities to move people toward a relationship with Jesus Christ?”

It is worth noting that “What If” makes a subtle yet significant change in the UMC’s eight-year-old “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” advertising slogan. The video’s tag line says, “Together we can open hearts, open minds, open doors.”

The three added words yield a much different meaning. “Together we can…” refocuses the slogan on mission, rather than on how (some) United Methodists perceive of themselves or want to be perceived. This is a welcome change.

Use the audio player below to listen to an 8-and-half minute presentation about Rethink Church from Larry Hollon of United Methodist Communications (recorded at the 2009 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference).

Order a Rethink Church DVD here.

Visit the 10ThousandDoors web site (i.e., the external Rethink Church site targeted to 18-to-34 olds).

Watch a Rethink Church TV ad below.


Related articles and information
What if? Rethinking the UMC’s ReThink campaign | Scott Kingsolver, Revangelical-Burning Out Bright blog (Aug. 20, 2009)
United Methodist Church launches $20 million ‘Rethink Church’ advertising campaign | UMC Press Center (May 1, 2009)
The theological foundation for ‘Rethink Church’ (PDF) | United Methodist Communications
Media impact and awareness research for the ‘Open Hearts’ campaign (PDF) | The Barna Research Group for United Methodist Communications (February 2008)
Opening doors — Where’s the doctrine?: A rhetorical analysis of the United Methodist media campaign (PDF) | Michelle Spurgeon, Matthew Drumheller, and Kristina Drumheller, A paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association (Nov. 15, 2007)
Open hearts don’t gamble: UMCom terminates agreement with Buntin Group due to ad agency’s work for Tennessee Lottery | Josh Tinley, Scrambies blog (Sept. 7, 2008)
‘Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors’ slogan is marketing, not theology | Andrew C. Thompson, UM Reporter (July 12, 2007)
Madison Avenue Methodism | David Holman, The American Spectator (Aug. 25, 2005)
United Methodists approve four more years of ‘Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.’ | Nancye Willis, United Methodist News Service (May 5, 2004)
United Methodists name Buntin Group to create national campaign | BusinessWire (Nov. 27, 2000)
United Methodist agency will launch TV campaign in 2001 | Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (July 10, 2000)

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Transforming Congregations, a 21-year-old United Methodist ministry that helps local churches minister to people struggling with sexual-identity confusion and sexual brokenness, is merging with Exodus International, the world’s largest Christian outreach to those dealing with homosexual attraction.

transforming-congregations2One by One, a ministry in the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition, will be a part of the merger as well.

From an Exodus International news release:

Together, these [three] ministries will form a new division under the leadership of Exodus that will equip leaders within both evangelical and mainline churches worldwide to break the polarizing debate over homosexuality through an approach that is both biblically orthodox and truly compassionate.

This merger will work to enhance current efforts to equip churches through the Exodus Church Association, an interdenominational network of more than 120 churches helping those dealing with same-sex attraction to live a life that reflects the Christian faith….

“The compassionate truth of the Gospel is still the hope of the world today,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International and author of…the newly released Leaving Homosexuality.

“Together, we hope to advance a new era in the global Christian church that is defined by God’s truth as well as His heart for hurting individuals experiencing confusion and conflict about their sexuality.”

Transforming Congregations and One by One “will function essentially as departments within Exodus’ church-equipping ministry,” according to a report by Charisma News Online.

“[W]e will retain our own identity and focus on missions,” said the Rev. Karen Booth, executive director of Transforming Congregations, which has been affiliated with Exodus since 2000.

“We still will be working within the United Methodist Church or with churches from the Wesleyan heritage…. I hope with Exodus working with us, we will be a bit more strategic in our outreach.”

Karen Booth was among several speakers at a July 15 news conference announcing the merger. You can listen to her comments below.

 

The news conference was part of Exodus International’s 34th annual Freedom Conference, held at Wheaton College in Illinois.


Related posts
Sexuality resolution not at variance with Discipline, bishop rules
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy

Related articles and information
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
The Reconciling Ministries’ Hearts on Fire event: The lessons of Lake Junaluska (PDF) | Karen Booth, Transforming Congregations (Fall 2005)
On reparative therapy: Shouldn’t homosexual transformation be believable to people of faith? | Karen Booth, Reporter Interactive via The Internet Archive (April 13, 2004)
Transforming Congregations says ‘compassion without compromise’ | Good News magazine (May/June 2004)
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | United Methodist News Service; Good News Information Service, Good News magazine (May/June 2008)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
Resources list: Ministry for and with homosexual persons (requested by the UMC’s 2004 General Conference (PDF) | United Methodist Publishing House
Book: Staying the Course: Supporting the [United Methodist] Church’s Position on Homosexuality | Abingdon Press (2003)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)

Read Full Post »

With all U.S. annual conferences now having completed voting on 32 constitutional amendments passed by last year’s United Methodist General Conference, the UM renewal organization Good News is projecting that at least 24 amendments will be defeated, including all six of the most controversial measures.

Those six include five amendments that would have restructured the UMC into a series of regional conferences (Amendments IV, X, XIII, XXIII, and XVI), and one that would have liberalized membership requirements (Amendment I).

amendments-clipIn a July 8 web posting, Good News notes that 48 of the 62 U.S. conferences have published the results of their voting. Those 48 conferences represent “at least 86% of the total votes cast in the U.S. and approximately 80% of the votes worldwide,” Good News says.

[UPDATE: Good News posted an update on July 17, noting that now 50 U.S. conferences, “representing at least 88% of the total votes cast in the US and approximately 82% of the votes worldwide, have publicly shared with all United Methodists their vote tallies on the proposed amendments.”]

In other words, there are not enough votes remaining among non-published U.S. votes and potential votes from conferences outside the U.S. to change the outcome for those amendments that have already received a substantial percentage of “no” votes.

“[T]he last time annual conferences worldwide voted on a constitutional matter [in 2005], there were approximately 2,000 total votes cast in the central [i.e., non-U.S.] conferences,” Good News notes. “Given the heightened interest in the current proposed amendments and the dramatic growth in many annual conferences beyond the U.S., it seems possible that as many as 3,000 to 4,000 votes may come from the central conferences this year.”

Holston Conference voting

Holston Conference voting

But even if all those votes went in favor of amendments that now appear to have been defeated, the outcome would not change.

To be enacted, a proposed amendment to the United Methodist Constitution must be approved by two-thirds (66.67%) of the voting delegates to the denomination’s 135 annual conferences.

As things stand now, the five restructuring amendments have garnered affirmative votes from only slightly more than one-third of delegates. (The strongest showing for any restructuring amendment is a 37% “yes” vote.)

Amendment I has fared better, receiving a 48% “yes” vote, but still well short of the two-thirds majority required. (A tally from the pro-Amendment-I Reconciling Ministries Network shows the amendment garnering a 50% “yes” vote.)

In a July 2 letter to Good News supporters, Rob Renfroe, the renewal ministry’s new president, calls the defeat of the six controversial amendments “an important and stunning victory.”

One measure that appears to be on its way to passage is Amendment XIX, a proposed constitutional amendment that Good News supports. Amendment XIX would extend to certain local pastors and provisional members the right to vote for clergy delegates to the General and Jurisdictional conferences. Thus far, that measure has garnered a 77% affirmative vote.

The final results of the vote on the proposed constitutional amendments will not be announced or certified until the Council of Bishops meets in November.

[UPDATE: The United Methodist News Service reported July 30 that the certification will not occur until the Council of Bishop meeting in May 2010.]

Below is a list of all 135 UMC annual conferences. If a conference name has a link assigned, click the link to see the results from that conference’s vote on the proposed constitutional amendments. (If you know of web-published results that are not linked below, please e-mail the URL to MethodistThinker.com.)

A one-page spreadsheet with tallies of the published results for Amendments I, IV, X, XIII, XIX, XXIII, XVI is here (PDF).

Alabama-West Florida (PDF)
Alaska
Arkansas
Austria Provisional
Baltimore-Washington
Bicol Philippines Provisional
Bulacan Philippines
Bulgaria Provisional
California-Nevada (PDF)
California-Pacific
Central Congo
Central Luzon
Central Pennsylvania (PDF)
Central Texas
Central Russia
Cote d’Ivoire
Czech & Slovak Republics
Dakotas (PDF, p. 4)
Denmark
Desert Southwest (PDF)
Detroit
East Africa
East Congo
East Germany
East Mindanao Philippines
East Ohio (PDF)
East Zimbabwe
Eastern Angola
Eastern Pennsylvania
Eastern Russia & Kazakhstan Prov
Estonia
Finland-Finnish Provisional
Finland-Swedish Provisional
Florida
Greater New Jersey
Gwaten Nigeria
Holston
Hungary Provisional
Illinois Great Rivers
Indiana (PDF)
Iowa (PDF, p. 2)
Kansas East
Kansas West
Kasai Provisional
Kentucky
Kivu Provisional
Liberia
Louisiana
Lukoshi
Malawi Provisional
Memphis
Middle Philippines
Mindanao Philippines
Minnesota
Mississippi (PDF)
Missouri
Mozambique North
Mozambique South
Nebraska (PDF)
New England
New Mexico
New York
North Alabama
North Carolina (PDF)
North Central New York
North Central Philippines
North Georgia
North Germany
North Katanga
North Texas (PDF)
Northeast Luzon Philippines
Northeast Philippines
Northern Illinois
Northern Philippines
North-West Katanga
Northwest Mindanao Philippines
Northwest Philippines
Northwest Russia Provisional
Northwest Texas
Norway
Oklahoma (amendment #’s not
consistent w/ other conferences)
Oklahoma Indian Missionary
Oregon-Idaho (PDF, p. 16)
Oriental & Equator
Pacific Northwest (PDF)
Palawan Philippines
Pampango Philippines
Pangasinan Philippines
Peninsula-Delaware
Pero Nigeria
Philippines
Philippines-Cavite
Philippines East
Poland
Quezon City Philippines East
Red Bird Missionary
Rio Grande (PDF)
Rocky Mountain
Serbia/Macedonia Provisional
Sierra Leone
South Africa Provisional
South Carolina
South Congo
South Georgia (PDF)
South Germany
Southern Nigeria
Southern Russia Provisional
Southern Tagalog Provisional
South-West Katanga
Southwest Philippines Provisional
Southwest Texas
Sweden
Switzerland-France
Tanganyika/Tanzania
Tarlac Philippines
Tennessee
Texas
Troy
Ukraine & Moldova Provisional
Virginia
Visayas Philippines
West Congo
West Michigan
West Middle Philippines
West Ohio
West Virginia (PDF, p. 3)
West Zimbabwe
Western Angola
Western New York
Western North Carolina (PDF)
Western Pennsylvania (Excel)
Wisconsin (PDF)
Wyoming
Yellowstone (PDF)
Zambia Provisional

Related posts
Bill Bouknight: Methodists are saying ‘No’ to their leaders
North Georgia overwhelmingly disapproves restructuring amendments
Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’
Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments
African UM leader on amendments: ‘We should have been consulted’
A ‘procedural’ argument against Amendment I

Related articles and information
Full text of all 32 amendments, showing how each would alter the current language of the United Methodist Book of Discipline—material stricken through would be deleted; material in bold/blue would be added (PDF)
We Confess newsletter (PDF) | Confessing Movement (May/June 2009)
Worldwide decision: United Methodists to vote on amending constitution | Bill Fentum, UM Reporter (April 10, 2009)
Which way to a Worldwide Church? (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 31, 2009)
A rationale to oppose proposed constitutional changes | Tim McClendon, Columbia District Superintendent, South Carolina Conference
The worldwide Methodist movement | Eddie Fox, Interpreter Magazine (Web-only article—March 31, 2009)
Conferences to consider church structure | Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (March 10, 2009)
Amendment I (without the baggage) (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 18, 2009)
United Methodism in crisis: Scriptural renewal through the Good News Movement | Chapter 4 of Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Life by Steven M. Tipton (University of Chicago Press, 2008 — via Google Books)
40 years of vision for United Methodist reformation and renewal (PDF) | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (November/December 2007)

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Bishop John R. Schol has ruled that a resolution on human sexuality passed by the 2009 session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference neither “contradicts the [United Methodist Book of] Discipline [n]or establishes a new and different standard on sexuality from the Discipline.”

Bishop John R. Schol

Bishop John R. Schol

The Baltimore-Washington resolution, which mirrors legislation rejected by the 2008 General Conference, notes that “we have been and remain divided regarding homosexual expressions of human sexuality.”

Bishop Schol’s ruling of law, however, did not directly concern the portion of the resolution that mentions homosexuality.

The Rev. Charles Harrell, pastor of Trinity UMC in Prince Frederick, Md., asked Bishop Schol to rule as to whether the resolution was appropriately couched in the context of the current Book of Discipline‘s statement about human sexuality.

Instead of quoting from the 2008 Book of Discipline, the Baltimore-Washington resolution quotes a portion of ¶161G of the 2004 Discipline, language that was replaced by action of the 2008 General Conference.

The quoted 2004 language reads:

We recognize that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when that gift is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the church, and society. We call all persons to the disciplined, responsible fulfillment of themselves, others, and society in the stewardship of this gift.

That language was altered by the 2008 General Conference to read:

We affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We call everyone to responsible stewardship of this sacred gift. Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.

Mr. Harrell asked Bishop Schol to rule on whether the Baltimore-Washington resolution “lacks the [2008 Book of Discipline‘s] qualifying language [now in] ¶161F on Human Sexuality, and thereby establishes a new and different standard on sexuality from the Discipline.”

In his ruling (PDF), the bishop offered a four-point rationale for his finding that “the resolution is not out of order based on the paragraph questioned”:

1. The request for a ruling does not state specifically the clarifying language to be included and therefore it cannot be determined what other language may have been included.

2. There is nothing in this paragraph that contradicts the Discipline or establishes a new and different standard on sexuality from the Discipline or the teachings and beliefs of the Social Principles.

3. The paragraph in question is a statement of belief:

We recognize that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when that gift is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the church, and society. We call all persons to the disciplined, responsible fulfillment of themselves, others, and society in the stewardship of this gift.

An annual conference may without contradicting the Book of Discipline state what it believes.

4. The Social Principles are not church law and encourages [sic] prayerful, studied dialogue. This paragraph was a part of the prayerful studied dialogue of the Church (opening paragraph of 161G of the 2004 Book of Discipline) and the Baltimore-Washington Conference may continue to use the paragraph in question in their prayerful studied dialogue in keeping with the intent and spirit of the Social Principles.

Under standard United Methodist legal procedure, Bishop Schol’s ruling of law will be automatically appealed to the UM Judicial Council, the denomination’s supreme court. The Council is scheduled to convene for its Fall session in October.

The human sexuality resolution was proposed by seven churches in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, three in Maryland and four in Washington, D.C.

bwarmThe Maryland churches are Emmanuel UMC in Laurel, Christ UMC in Columbia, and St. John’s UMC in Baltimore. The D.C. congregations are Capitol Hill UMC, Wesley UMC, Dumbarton UMC, and Foundry UMC.

All seven congregations are associated with Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists, a group which “seek[s] to affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and ensure the full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the ministry and life of the United Methodist Church, particularly in the Baltimore-Washington Conference.”

In 2008 one of the seven churches, D.C.’s Foundry UMC, began “recogniz[ing] same-sex unions in special ceremonies that fall just short of an official wedding,” according to a United Methodist News Service report.

Asked to comment on Foundry’s action, Bishop Schol issued a March 2008 statement in which he affirmed Foundry as “a congregation that enthusiastically and faithfully supports the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church.”

[Foundry UMC] is a congregation…[with] a significant presence of gay and lesbian Christians. It is a church that is doing an unusually good job of reaching young adults with many new members who are under 35 and many families with young children.

I have recognized that they face a difficult question of how in the name of Jesus Christ to minister to all of their members given our denominational policies about homosexuality….

Here in our conference, small groups of people with differing opinions have been meeting to discuss homosexuality. I hope these conversations continue and that we can seek to know and care for each other even when our views and convictions differ….

I would like us to discuss all the controversial issues in our denomination in light of our calling to make disciples and grow Acts 2 churches.

At a 2004 church trial, Bishop Schol testified on behalf of Beth Stroud, a pastor whose clergy credentials were subsequently withdrawn when she was convicted of violating church law relating to homosexual practice.

Beth Stroud

Beth Stroud

Ms. Stroud was charged with engaging in “practices incompatible with Christian teachings” after an April 2003 sermon in which she declared she was in a lesbian relationship.

In the late 1990s, Beth Stroud served as the associate pastor of West Chester (Pa.) UMC when John Schol was the senior pastor of that church.

On the witness stand during Ms. Stroud’s trial, Bishop Schol admitted that he was aware of her “sexual identity” when they served together at West Chester, but he said that to the best of his knowledge Ms. Stroud was not in a lesbian relationship at that time.

Since 1972, the United Methodist Book of Discipline has characterized “the practice of homosexuality” as being “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Since 1984, the Discipline has further stated that “[s]ince 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.”


Related posts
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy
Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ‘08
Joe Whittemore: ‘Enough is enough’
UM Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments

Related articles and information
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | United Methodist News Service; Good News Information Service, Good News magazine (May/June 2008)
Slavery, homosexuality, and not being of one mind | Riley B. Case, via The Sundry Times (July 1, 2008)
D.C. Foundry church will honor same-sex unions | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (March 11, 2008)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
Statement by Bishop John R. Schol on two rulings by the United Methodist Judicial Council: the Beth Stroud case and the Rev. Ed Johnson case (Oct. 31, 2005)
Resources list: Ministry for and with homosexual persons (requested by the UMC’s 2004 General Conference (PDF) | United Methodist Publishing House
Book: Staying the Course: Supporting the [United Methodist] Church’s Position on Homosexuality | Abingdon Press (2003)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)

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The July/August issue of Good News magazine features many words of appreciation (from bishops, professors, pastors, and lay people) for the Rev. Dr. James V. Heidinger II, who retired this week after 28 years of leading United Methodism’s flagship renewal ministry.

James V. Heidinger II

James V. Heidinger II

He is variously described as “cheerful,” “passionate,” “gracious,” “patient,” “humble,” “sensitive,” “thoughtful,” “truthful,” and “motivated by the love of Christ.”

One writer, Dr. Bill Bouknight of the Confessing Movement, noted that Jim Heidinger “illustrates what it means to contend for the faith without being contentious.”

The July/August Good News republishes three of Dr. Heidinger’s columns (out of more than 170 written over the years), selected by the magazine’s long-time editor Steve Beard: “Remaining United Methodist” (from 1982), “The Legacy of Theological Liberalism” (from 1990), and “The Road to Emmaus” (from 1983).

In addition to his writing, James Heidinger has made himself available as a spokesman for evangelical concerns within the UMC and the larger mainline Church. He has often been called on to explain and defend the Church’s standards relating to homosexuality.

Use the audio and video players below to hear/see various interviews with Jim Heidinger, beginning with the 1984 General Conference in Baltimore.

It was in 1984 that General Conference delegates approved a clear guideline aimed at prohibiting non-celibate homosexual persons from being ordained to the United Methodist ministry. Dr. Heidinger was asked to comment on the General Conference’s action. (This 2:50 audio clip is from a UM Communications production narrated by Harry Johnson. Mr. Johnson is also the interviewer.)

Four years later, at the 1988 General Conference in St. Louis, UM Communications asked Jim Heidinger to comment on a failed attempt to overthrow the ordination restrictions passed in 1984 (the attempt was defeated by a better than two-thirds margin).

 

In March 2004, Dr. Heidinger discussed the Karen Dammann trial with host Todd Wilken on the radio program, Issues, Etc. (16:35).

Later in 2004, Mr. Heidinger was a guest on the Albert Mohler Program, talking about the Beth Stroud trial (8:55).

And in November 2005, Jim Heidinger again appeared on Issues, Etc., along with Mark Tooley of UM Action, to discuss rulings issued by the United Methodist Judicial Council at its Fall 2005 session. (17:35).

James Heidinger is a retired clergy member of the East Ohio Annual Conference. An Illinois native, he earned degrees from Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., and from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Theological-Malpracticeguarding-the-gospelDr. Heidinger’s books include United Methodist Renewal: What Will It Take? (Bristol Books, 1988), Theological Malpractice?: Essays in the Struggle for United Methodist Renewal (Bristol House, 2000), and Guarding the Gospel: Biblical Faith and the Future of United Methodism (Living Streams, 2007).

Jim Heidinger and his wife, Joanne, live in Nicholasville, Ky. They are members of the First United Methodist Church of Lexington, where Dr. Heidinger has taught an adult Sunday School class for many years.


Related articles and information
Much has changed since Jim Heidinger became a leader of UM evangelicals | Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service (July 9, 2009)
Reflections on passing the torch | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (May/June 2009)
Heidinger reflects on Good News leadership | Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service (April 2, 2009)
Good News announces new leadership upon Heidinger retirement | Good News (March 12, 2009)
United Methodism in crisis: Scriptural renewal through the Good News Movement | Chapter 4 of Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Life by Steven M. Tipton (University of Chicago Press, 2008 — via Google Books)
40 years of vision for United Methodist reformation and renewal (PDF) | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (November/December 2007)
An interview with the Rev. Dr. James V. Heidinger II | Katherine T. Phan, The Christian Post (Nov. 6, 2004)
Good News board honors Heidinger | Tim Tanton, United Methodist News Service (Feb. 13, 2003)
Coalition speaker Heidinger describes renewal ‘phenomenon’ | Evan Silverstein, PCUSA News (May 27, 2003)
Good News’ response to Cal/Nevada’s dismissal of complaints against 68 clergy involved in same-sex covenant | James V. Heidinger II on behalf of the Good News Board of Directors (Feb. 14, 2000)
Good News board urges bishops to preserve unity of church | United Methodist News Service (Feb. 2, 1999)
Good News celebration emphasizes revival and renewal | United Methodist News Service (July 1, 1997)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)
Evangelical leaders from mainline denominations form new association; Heidinger named chairman | United Methodist News Service (Oct. 24, 1996)
‘Re-Imagining’ rejects historic Christianity | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (January/February 1994)
Mainline conservatives protest women’s ‘Re-Imagining’ conference | Carlton Elliott Smith, Religious News Service (Jan. 15, 1994—reprinted in the Feb. 16, 1994 issue of The Christian Century)
‘Durham Declaration’ asks for ‘Scriptural approach’ to abortion | United Methodist News Service (March 12, 1991)

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