The United Methodist Renewal and Reform Coalition has released the text of a letter sent earlier this year to the UM Council of Bishops. The Coalition includes the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, Good News, Lifewatch, UM Action, and Transforming Congregations. The full text is reproduced below. Links have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.
God’s grace and peace to you and yours.
We honor you as the duly elected spiritual and temporal leaders of The United Methodist Church and count it a privilege to share with you some carefully considered perceptions about our church’s future.
The annual conferences of our church have recently through spoken decisively through their votes on the 32 proposed constitutional amendments.
Though most of these proposed amendments were endorsed by the Connectional Table, and all were approved by at least two-thirds of the 2008 General Conference, rank-and-file United Methodists through their annual conferences have apparently rejected most of them by wide margins.
The people of the church are clearly calling their leaders to reconsider the direction proposed by most of the constitutional amendments.
More specifically, the reorganizational plan that the 23 Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church (WWN-UMC) amendments would have set in motion, has apparently been decisively overturned.
We are convinced that United Methodism’s most pressing problem is not her organization. Our denomination’s decline for over forty years (PDF) is not the result of faulty organization. Indeed, if we focus attention and resources on reorganization, we will miss a precious opportunity to address the main problem in our church.
The main problem facing The United Methodist Church is spiritual and theological in nature. Over the last forty years, our church has drifted from the foundational truth of Biblical authority and Wesleyan doctrine.
Significant portions of the church no longer believe that Scripture, well interpreted by the church, is “the true rule and guide for faith and practice” (The Confession of Faith, Article IV). A considerable minority in Methodism no longer believes that all persons, in their natural condition, are sinners in need of salvation.
Some even disagree that Jesus’ death on the cross was an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Because our church lacks consensus about our message and its accompanying mission, we are a drifting, declining denomination.
We in the renewal movements take seriously John Wesley’s warning that Methodism would surely become a dead sect unless it “hold[s] fast to the doctrine, spirit, and discipline” with which it began.
Only the Triune God — not reorganization — can renew The United Methodist Church. We are convinced you can help lead us into the proclamation, pedagogy, and practices that God can and will anoint with His Holy Spirit. We respectfully ask you to consider implementing the following initiatives.
Finally, we acknowledge that from time to time circumstances require a reorganization of the church’s structure in order to make it more effective at fulfilling its mission. We appreciate and look forward to the opportunity to have input into the study commission’s work.
In that vein, we believe the following points are essential for creating a structure that is both helpful and has the broad based support of the church’s people.
We share these perceptions with you and offer these initiatives and ideas for your consideration with profound respect and hope.
In no less than two months, we plan to share this letter with our constituents, as we are speaking on their behalf, and they share our concerns and awareness of the problems facing our church. But first, we want to give you ample time to respond, individually and/or as a Council.
Please know we are praying for the entire Council as you lead our beloved United Methodist Church in these challenging days.
The Renewal and Reform Coalition letter is signed by the Confessing Movement’s Patricia Miller (executive director) and Greg McGarvey (board chair); Good News’ Rob Renfroe (president/publisher) and Chuck Ferrara (board chair); Lifewatch’s Cindy Evans (administrator) and Paul Stallsworth (president); UMAction’s Mark Tooley (president) and David Stanley (board chair); and Transforming Congregations’ Karen Booth (director). The letter is available in PDF format here.
In November 2009, renewal leaders presented additional concerns to the Council of Bishops’ Unity Task Force at Lake Junaluska, N.C. A written summary of the renewal delegation’s presentation is here (PDF).
|•||Prominent UM layman offers analysis of amendments outcome|
|•||Bishop Scott Jones: Rethinking the path to a worldwide UMC|
|•||Bill Bouknight: What I wish the Council of Bishops would say|
|•||Podcast: Randy Maddox on Methodist ‘doctrine, spirit, discipline’|
|•||Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’|
|•||Bill Bouknight: Methodists are saying ‘No’ to their leaders|
Related articles and information
|•||2010 State of the Church Report (PDF) | UMC Connectional Table|
|•||U.S. conferences report declining numbers | Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service (July 20, 2010)|
|•||UM Bishops announce defeat of global church and open membership amendments | Connor Ewing, Institute on Religion and Democracy (May 12, 2010)|
|•||Study Committee responds to constitutional amendment rejections | Stephen Drachler, Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church (May 11, 2010)|
|•||Conference data comparison 2007-2008 (PDF) (all five U.S. jurisdictions suffered a net loss of membership in 2008; not a single conference in the Northeastern, North Central, and Western Jurisdictions showed a gain) | Background Data for Mission, UM General Board of Global Ministries (March 2010)|
|•||Unity Task Force Meeting: Dialogue with Renewal Leaders (PDF) | Meeting with the Council of Bishops Unity Task Force, Lake Junaluska, N.C. (November 5, 2009)|
|•||This is our story: Trends in the Church (PDF) | Office of Analysis and Research, UM General Council on Finance and Administration (June 2008)|
|•||A rare breed: Professions of faith decline in UMC | Mary Jacobs, UM Reporter (Feb. 1, 2008)|
|•||Exploring professions of faith (PDF) | Background Data for Mission, UM General Board of Global Ministries (May 2007)|
|•||Methodist membership as compared to the United States population: 1790-2000 | UM General Commission on Archives and History|