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The following statement was released Feb. 16 by the Renewal and Reform Coalition, composed of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, Good News, Lifewatch, RENEW, Transforming Congregations, and UMAction.

Links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com — Ed.

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In early February 2011, a group of [32—now 36] retired United Methodist bishops issued “A Statement of Counsel to the Church—2011″ (PDF) in which they called upon The United Methodist Church to remove statements in ¶304.3 of the Book of Discipline that declare “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and instruct that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”

The decision on our church’s doctrine and polity on these matters is reserved solely to the delegates to General Conference, and this group of retired bishops has neither voice nor vote in such deliberations.

We are dismayed that bishops who have agreed to live within the covenant defined by our Book of Discipline and who are charged in the Book of Discipline “to uphold the discipline and order of the Church” are undercutting that very discipline and order, encouraging dissension and disunity, and advocating on behalf of positions which have been repeatedly rejected by our General Conference after focused prayer, study, and holy conferencing.

The retired bishops who have joined in the statement are a minority of the active and retired bishops who are part of the Council of Bishops. We call upon the Council of Bishops as a whole to defend the church’s belief and discipline, and to hold one another accountable for such defense.

After ten General Conferences (1972-2008), numerous dialogues, at least two General Church study commissions, official study resources, dozens of convocations, a plethora of books, demonstrations and disruptions of the General Conference business, and extended impassioned debate, our denomination has consistently affirmed a holistic position that is pastoral and biblical, compassionate and redemptive.

From the UM
Book of Discipline

¶161F Human Sexuality — 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.

We deplore all forms of the commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children and for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for abused children.

All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence. The Church should support the family in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth, and adults.

We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self.

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

¶304.3 Regarding Clergy — While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world.

Since 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.

The denomination’s statement on the practice of homosexuality is a balanced position that affirms the “sacred worth” of all persons, even while acknowledging that as Christians we cannot affirm every expression of human sexuality.

Clearly, there are certain sexual practices that contradict biblical standards, and as faithful disciples we must be willing to declare them to be incompatible with Christian teachings. The United Methodist position does this with mercy and grace.

The retired bishops’ statement is woefully inadequate in its failure to address the clear pronouncements of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments and almost 2,000 years of Christian history. The teaching of The United Methodist Church on human sexuality is consistent with the teaching of the Church universal.

In essence, the retired bishops’ statement is a plea for the church to accommodate to the world and compromise with the relativism of our age. Scripture and Christian history steadfastly warn against such accommodation and compromise.

To a watching world, the position of The United Methodist Church is a necessary and reasonable statement of ethical clarity in an age of murky morality. It is a statement of theological honesty in an age of religious ambiguity. It is a prophetic statement to a world that offers no boundaries to sexual expression.

As recognized in our Book of Discipline, faithful followers of Jesus Christ are called to celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage.

The Scriptures and almost 2000 years of Christian theology have permitted sexual activity only within the boundary of marriage. The Church universal in its orthodox expressions has defined marriage as the covenantal relationship of supreme love between a man and a woman.

The United Methodist position is and must remain consistent with this understanding.

The retired bishops’ statement provides no rationale for deviating from this position, except for arguments based in convenience — convenience for those who find difficulty administering the church’s position rightly and for those who choose to persist in engaging in sinful practices.

Maintaining our position keeps faith with the supremacy of Scripture and accords with tradition, experience and reason.

The position of The United Methodist Church is a prophetic message of life to a broken and hurting world. The biblically prophetic message has always been more interested in truth and transformation than in consensus and conformity to the propositions advanced by the world. What the world often finds excusable and acceptable, the church does not and cannot.

Even though our debates have historically focused exclusively on homosexuality, The United Methodist Church must learn how to provide effective and compassionate ministry to all persons who struggle to live lives of sexual purity.

All persons, whatever their sexual temptations or inclinations, are welcome in The United Methodist Church, but sexual relationships outside the biblically and historically defined boundary of Christian marriage between a man and a woman must be named for what they are — sin. The Gospel also includes God’s gracious promise that those who confess and repent will be given the power for new life and transformation.

We live in a hypersexualized culture — as evidenced by the more than 40-year-obsession of those who would change our sexual ethics. United Methodism must deal seriously — and here we are speaking to conservatives as well as liberals and moderates—with the crippling spiritual devastation that sexual brokenness brings into our local congregations.

Many who sit next to us in our pews have been victimized by sexual abuse or by an unfaithful spouse. Others in our congregations struggle with promiscuity, are addicted to pornography, suffer with sexually transmitted diseases, are confused about their sexual identity, or wrestle with same-sex attractions.

A 2003 book affirming the UMC's official position

All such persons need to know that The United Methodist Church is prepared to minister to their needs while uncompromisingly standing for biblical truth and the transformative power of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The path urged by the retired bishops, if adopted, will leave The United Methodist Church barely distinguishable from the culture, particularly in the Christian West. All this would be done for the sake of expediency and convenience, a desire for “relevance,” and a misapplied sense of social justice.

In reality, the retired bishops’ position is in a distinct minority across the Church universal and has only resulted in dissension, schism, and the weakening of the Church where it has been adopted.

We urge our brothers and sisters in Christ in The United Methodist Church to reject the counsel of these retired episcopal leaders.

— Endorsed by the Renewal and Reform Coalition

Related posts
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
In embracing homosexual marriage, Foundry UMC rejects UM boundaries, breaks with 2 millennia of church teaching
Defying denomination, UM church in D.C. offers to perform same-sex weddings
Judicial Council overturns bishop’s ruling on sexuality statement
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’
Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ’08
Joe Whittemore: ‘Enough is enough’

Related information
United Methodist churches perform same-sex weddings with one foot in the closet | Amanda Hess, TBD.com (Sept. 30, 2010)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
Slavery, homosexuality, and not being of one mind | Riley B. Case, via The Sundry Times (July 1, 2008)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (April 30, 2008)
Judicial Council Decision 1032 and ecclesiology (PDF) | William J. Abraham, General Board of Higher Education & Ministry Consultation on Decision 1032 (February 2007)
Methodists strengthen stand against homosexual practice | Christianity Today (May 5, 2004)
Debate at the 2004 General Conference on various legislation related to homosexuality (includes audio) | 2004 General Conference Archive
Resources list: Ministry for and with homosexual persons (requested by the UMC’s 2004 General Conference) (PDF) | United Methodist Publishing House
Homosexuality and the Bible (PDF) | R. Albert Mohler Jr., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
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’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)

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During February, while MethodistThinker is on hiatus from new postings, we’re showcasing podcasts from our fall 2010 season. This podcast features an address by Bishop Alfred Norris.

Bishop Alfred Norris in 2005 (via UMNS)

Born in Louisiana in 1938, Alfred Lloyd Norris was educated at Dillard University in New Orleans and Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta.

After serving for 16 years as a United Methodist pastor and district superintendent in his native state, he was named president of Gammon in 1985.

In 1992, he was elected to the UM episcopacy and assigned to the New Mexico and Northwest Texas conferences. Later, Bishop Norris moved to the Texas Annual Conference, where he served until his retirement in 2004.

In 2006, he was asked to return to the active episcopacy to fill the term of North Texas Bishop Rhymes H. Moncure, who had died in office. After leading the North Texas Conference for two years, Bishop Norris retired again from active status in 2008.

Last year, he returned to Gammon Theological Seminary when asked to serve as the school’s interim president and dean, a position he held until Jan. 1, 2011. Gammon, founded in 1883, is the United Methodist part of a consortium of six historically African-American theological schools in the Atlanta area collectively known as the Interdenominational Theological Center.

This podcast features Bishop Norris’ address, edited for length, presented at the 2005 ordination service of the North Georgia Annual Conference.

Listen using the audio player below (18 min.) — or download an mp3 file (8.2 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Podcast: Maxie Dunnam on ‘The Pastor as Prophet, Priest, and Evangelist
Podcast: Bishop Gerald Kennedy on ‘The Marks of a Methodist’
Podcast: Bishop James King on ‘Preaching Authority’
Podcast: Tom Atkins — ‘We Need the Power of the Holy Spirit’
Podcast: Bishop Robert E. Hayes on ‘A Long Fight with a Short Stick’
Podcast: Bill Hinson on ‘The Making of a Minister’

Related articles and information
Interim president-dean for Gammon Theological Seminary appointed | General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (March 22, 2010)
Bishop Alfred Norris to lead North Texas Conference | United Methodist News Service (Sept. 13, 2006)
Biography of Bishop Alfred L. Norris | Council of Bishops Gallery, United Methodist Church

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The following commentary is by Riley B. Case, associate executive director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Riley B. Case

Dr. Case served many years as a pastor and district superintendent in the UMC’s North Indiana Conference (now the Indiana Conference).

He is the author of Evangelical and Methodist: A Popular History (Abingdon Press) and has served as a delegate to five UM General Conferences.

This commentary was published in a slightly different form in the Confessing Movement publication, “Happenings Around the Church.” Links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.

In 2009 Boston School of Theology received $863,235 from the Ministerial Education Fund (MEF). For this investment a grand total of seven students in 2008 received United Methodist ordination at the cost of $123,319 per student.

The School of Theology at Claremont did a bit better; 10 students from Claremont were in the newly ordained elders and deacons 2008 class in the various conferences. The church’s investment per Claremont ordained student totaled $84,967.

(Claremont, of course, has declared itself to be a multi-faith seminary and has indicated that it is not in the business of trying to convert persons from other religions to Christianity.)

This situation with the Ministerial Education Fund funds points to what many of us consider a serious problem in the church: namely, the seminaries (and the colleges).

The church is presently excited about the Call to Action Report (PDF) that speaks of widespread church reforms to address decades-long membership losses. Based on two independent studies (here and here — PDF) and adopted unanimously by the Council of Bishops, the report calls for the building of vital congregations, the consolidating and eliminating of church agencies, the reforming of clergy leadership development, and for holding bishops accountable for church vitality.

However, the report and the studies preceding the report say nothing about United Methodist seminaries or the way the present seminary situation addresses the need for clergy leadership development.

Part of the problem is that the seminaries (and the colleges) are basically independent entities that go their own ways quite apart from the stated mission of the United Methodist Church, which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world (UM Book of Discipline ¶120).


A bit of background

At Methodism’s organizing conference in 1784, preachers were advised never to let study interfere with soul-saving: “If you can do but one let your studies alone. We would throw by all the libraries of the world rather than be guilty of the loss of one soul” (Discipline of 1784).

John Wesley himself was highly educated and valued education, but he understood that there is not a direct link between educated clergy and church vitality.

Between 1780 and 1829, during the period of Methodism’s most rapid growth, 40 colleges and universities were founded in the United States, mostly by Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists. Few were Methodist.

While Presbyterians and Congregationalists were steeping themselves in classical studies so that they could serve the cultured elite of the nation, Methodist preachers were organizing camp meetings, preaching revivals, and winning the hearts of the masses.

The Methodist message that all could be saved (i.e., unlimited atonement), that each person had value, and that — in God’s sight — the experience of the heart was more to be desired than the trained mind, made it attractive to all people, rich and poor, black and white, sophisticated and unsophisticated. Methodism was a “bottom-up” religion rather than a “top-down” religion ruled by mediating elites.

In 1832 Congregational seminaries enrolled 234 students, Presbyterians seminaries 257, Episcopalians 47, Baptists 107, and Methodists none. The first Methodist seminary opened in 1847.

By 1859 the other denominations enrolled more than 1,200 students to the Methodists’ 51. Yet Methodism, in its several bodies, claimed the allegiance of one-third of all the religious adherents in America.

In the last half of the 19th century Methodism began to establish colleges and seminaries with abandon. These were not the cause but the result of Methodism’s evangelistic success.

As Methodism grew more sophisticated, Methodists became more and more enamored with education. Education was thought to be the new means by which the world could be civilized and thus Christianized.

While many of these newly minted educational institutions sought a close relationship with the church, many others were increasingly drawn into the values of an increasingly secularized society that worshipped at the altars of academic freedom, new knowledge, and the scientific method.

The coming kingdom began to look more and more like a secular utopia and less and less like the biblical millennium. Creedalism, sectarianism, and all forms of “dogmatism” were to be resisted on the way to this earthly kingdom. Educational institutions began to believe that they were the change agents and that the church existed to serve them, not they the church.


The 20th century

In 1901 Bishop Warren A. Candler, a Methodist bishop on the Vanderbilt University board, presented a resolution that that the university should give preference to hiring Methodists, all other things being equal. The school reacted by disaffiliating itself from the M.E. Church South.

In 1908 the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, under the influence of its educational institutions, passed legislation removing bishops (who were instructed by the Discipline to guard the faith) from the responsibility of guarding the faith in regard to university or seminary teaching, thus effectively removing the church from intervening in university or seminary affairs.

From this point on, seminaries and colleges would be free from all church constraints. Religious tests for teaching were discarded. The only “heresy” the church now allowed was the belief that heresy could exist.

By 1925 (according to a study done by Ministers’ Monthly), of 91 seminaries in the U.S., only 33 seminaries identified themselves as “orthodox” in orientation. None of these was Methodist (four United Brethren and Evangelical Association seminaries claimed to be “orthodox”).

“Fundamentalism” (which in the modernist mind included all forms of evangelicalism) was pronounced as dead. Modernism was considered the wave of the future for Methodist schools and for the future of the church.

Fortunately, nearly 60% of the ministerial students at the time (of both the North and South Methodist churches) were trained through the Course of Study and weren’t required to attend seminary. These were the pastors who did the work in the trenches and helped to keep some kind of theological balance in the church.

By the 1960s and 70s, ministerial candidates who wanted full ordination were required to be seminary graduates. But the seminaries, at least the mainline seminaries, wanting to be sensitive to all the cultural shifts, were missing what was really happening in the Christian world.

Theological modernism and its successors were spiritually bankrupt. The evangelical renaissance was taking place. Pentecostalism was breaking out worldwide. And, not least of all, many theological students preferred to attend growing and thriving evangelical seminaries. The mainline seminaries, wanting to be relevant, were becoming irrelevant.

Source: UMCgiving.org

This would mark the beginning of United Methodism’s 43-year decline — a decline which must be placed, in part, at the feet of the official church seminaries.

The seminaries (and their friends) never admitted to their own complicity in the church’s problems. Their enrollment declines and financial problems were not of their own making. What they needed was more money.

And so, in 1968, the General Conference established the Ministerial Education Fund (MEF) — effectively a “bail out” fund that began being apportioned to the annual conferences in 1970 as one of the church’s general funds.

In recent times this fund has channeled $15 million a year to the general budgets of the seminaries with no strings attached so that the seminaries might continue to do all the things they had always done in the way they had always done them.

There is no indication that the millions of dollars that have been poured into seminaries since 1970 have in any significant way increased the quality of seminary education.

To be sure, there are hopeful signs in UM seminary education, but despite these signs the question remains: If the United Methodist Church is genuinely interested in renewal and reform, what shall be done with the seminaries?


Correction:
An earlier version of this article stated that the Ministerial Education Fund was created in 1972. The MEF was authorized by the 1968 General Conference and became an official apportionment item in 1970.


Related posts
Riley Case: ‘Operational Assessment’ shows UMC has lost its way
United Methodist Judicial Council convenes for fall session
Renewal & Reform Coalition releases letter to Council of Bishops
Riley Case: The future of the United Methodist Church is at stake
Riley Case: Approval of Amendment XIX a ‘positive development’ for evangelicals
Podcast: Randy Maddox on Methodist ‘doctrine, spirit, discipline’
Podcast: Dr. James Heidinger on ‘United Methodist Renewal’

Related articles and information
Why Methodist seminaries are becoming irrelevant and dying | Riley B. Case, Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church (July 2009 — via Methodist Examiner)
The Ministerial Education Fund (PDF) | UM General Council and Finance and Administration, Financial Commitment of The United Methodist Church 2009-2012
Call to Action: Reordering the Life of the Church | Website of the UMC’s Call to Action Steering Committee
The complete “Operational Assessment” report (PDF) and Appendices (PDF) | Call to Action Steering Committee (June 29, 2010)
Leaning into the Future: President’s address to the Council of Bishops | Bishop Larry Goodpaster (Nov. 2, 2010)
Momentum builds for major church change | Bishop John L. Hopkins, United Methodist News Service (April 12, 2010)
Church leaders seek consensus on plans for change | Kathy L. Gilbert, United Methodist News Service (Nov. 12, 2009)
Connectional Table OKs new plan to study church | J. Richard Peck, United Methodist News Service (Nov. 9, 2009)
Bishop Palmer says church is in ‘sweet spot’ for change | Kathy L. Gilbert, United Methodist News Service (May 14, 2009)
Methodism’s coming death spiral | Donald Sensing, WindsOfChange.net (Nov. 15, 2007)
40 years of vision for United Methodist Renewal (PDF) | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (November/December 2007)
From the margin to the mainstream: United Methodism’s renewal movement (PDF) | Riley B. Case, Good News (November/December 2007)
Seminaries in crisis | Geoffrey Wainwright, Good News (September/October 1995)
Confessions of a grieving seminary professor | Thomas C. Oden, Good News (January/February 1994)

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The latest MethodistThinker Podcast features an address by Bishop Alfred Norris, currently interim president of Atlanta’s Gammon Theological Seminary.

Bishop Alfred Norris in 2005 (via UMNS)

Born in Louisiana in 1938, Alfred Lloyd Norris was educated at Dillard University (New Orleans) and Gammon Seminary.

After serving for 16 years as a United Methodist pastor and district superintendent in his native state, he was named president of Gammon in 1985.

In 1992, he was elected to the UM episcopacy and assigned to the New Mexico and Northwest Texas conferences. Later, Bishop Norris moved to the Texas Annual Conference, where he served until his retirement in 2004.

In 2006, he was asked to return to the active episcopacy to fill the term of North Texas Bishop Rhymes H. Moncure, who had died in office. After leading the North Texas Conference for two years, Bishop Norris retired again from active status in 2008.

Earlier this year, he returned to Gammon Theological Seminary when asked to serve as the school’s interim president and dean. Gammon, founded in 1883, is the United Methodist part of a consortium of six historically African-American theological schools in the Atlanta area collectively known as the Interdenominational Theological Center.

This podcast features Bishop Norris’ address, edited for length, presented at the 2005 ordination service of the North Georgia Annual Conference.

Listen using the audio player below (18 min.) — or download an mp3 file (8.2 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Podcast: Maxie Dunnam on ‘The Pastor as Prophet, Priest, and Evangelist
Podcast: Bishop Gerald Kennedy on ‘The Marks of a Methodist’
Podcast: Bishop James King on ‘Preaching Authority’
Podcast: Tom Atkins — ‘We Need the Power of the Holy Spirit’
Podcast: Bishop Robert E. Hayes on ‘A Long Fight with a Short Stick’
Podcast: Bill Hinson on ‘The Making of a Minister’

Related articles and information
Interim president-dean for Gammon Theological Seminary appointed | General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (March 22, 2010)
Bishop Alfred Norris to lead North Texas Conference | United Methodist News Service (Sept. 13, 2006)
Biography of Bishop Alfred L. Norris | Council of Bishops Gallery, United Methodist Church

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The final podcast of our spring season features one of the most prominent United Methodist leaders of recent decades: Dr. Maxie Dunnam.

Maxie Dunnam was born in Mississippi in 1934. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi (1955), he went on to earn a Master of Theology from Atlanta’s Emory University (1958). Later, he earned a Doctor of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky (1977).

Dr. Maxie Dunnam in 2008

Early in his ministry, he served as the organizing pastor of three Methodist churches: Aldersgate UMC in Atlanta, Ga. (1956), Trinity UMC in Gulport, Miss. (1958), and St. Andrews-by-the-Sea UMC in San Clemente, Calif. (mid-1960s).

Maxie Dunnam then served in several capacities at The Upper Room, eventually becoming World Editor of the ministry’s flagship devotional publication. He also helped launch the Upper Room’s spiritual-renewal ministry that became known as The Walk to Emmaus.

From 1982-1994, Dr. Dunnam served as senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tenn., which grew from 2,000 members to almost 6,000 members during his pastorate.

In 1994, Maxie Dunnam was elected president of Asbury Seminary. Ten years later, he was named the Asbury’s chancellor, and the school’s Orlando, Fla., campus was christened the “Dunnam Campus” in his honor.

Dr. Dunnam is the author of several dozen books and workbooks, including That’s What the Man Said: The Sayings of Jesus (Kindle Edition, 2009), Going on to Salvation: A Study of Wesleyan Beliefs (revised edition—Abingdon, 2008), and The Workbook on the Christian Walk (Upper Room, 2004).

Maxie Dunnam is a past president of the World Methodist Council, and he currently serves on the board of directors of the Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church.

The address on this podcast was presented at the Ordination Service at the 2008 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference.

To listen, use the audio player below (28 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (13.2MB).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments
Podcast: Bishop James King on ‘Preaching Authority’
Adam Hamilton: ‘We are in desperate need of excellent preaching’
Podcast: Bill Hinson on ‘The Making of a Minister’
Astonishing preaching
Preaching for a response

Related articles and information
MaxieDunnam.com
Former Memphis pastor Maxie Dunnam will air ‘positive’ TV, radio spots | The (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial Appeal (June 1, 2010)
Renewing hope: UM evangelicals gather to focus on critical issues | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (Nov. 2, 2007)
Confessing Movement issues statement on unity | Daniel R. Gangler, United Methodist News Service (Sept. 28, 2005)
42 years later, clergy who fought racism to reunite | Associated Press (June 6, 2005) — Related: The “Born of Conviction” statement, published in the Mississippi Methodist Advocate, Jan. 2, 1963 (PDF)
Truth getting distorted about ‘amicable separation’ | Maxie Dunnam, Good News magazine (July/August 2004)
Helping others answer the call: An interview with Maxie Dunnam | Leadership Journal (Oct. 1, 2003)
History of the Walk to Emmaus | Robert R. Wood, 20th anniversary gathering of Emmaus (April 1997)
Placing Christ at the center of all | Maxie Dunnam, Good News magazine (March/April 1996)

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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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