Speaking earlier this year to the Methodist Laity Reform Movement, a renewal group in the Iowa Conference, United Methodist evangelical leader Dr. Bill Bouknight noted “five causes for celebration” coming out of this year’s UM General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.
First, the Church’s position on human sexuality (¶161G) was not changed.
The vote was 55 percent to 45 percent to retain this vital sentence: “We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Indeed, Paragraph 161G was actually strengthened by adding these words: “Sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.”
Second, most of the divisive and sometimes unbiblical recommendations from the General Board of Church and Society were defeated. And their attempt to divest funds from companies doing business with Israel was set aside.
Also, their attempt to change the definition of marriage from a covenant between a man and a woman to a covenant between “two adult persons” was defeated.
We also added our official support for parental notification and consent for underage girls before they can have abortions.
A fourth cause for celebration was that an additional $2 million was committed to theological education and pastoral training in the Central Conferences, with particular emphasis on Africa.
There is still a justice issue here. Over the next four years we will pump $60 million into our 13 American seminaries, but will send only $2 million to Africa where the church is really growing.
A fifth cause for celebration was that a constitutional amendment to Paragraph 35 was approved that would allow probationary members, associate members, and local pastors to vote for clergy delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Of course, there also was unsettling news coming out of GC08. In the next MethodistThinker post: Dr. Bouknight’s summary of “five actions of General Conference that spell trouble for evangelicals and orthodox believers.”
A native of South Carolina, Bill Bouknight was educated at Duke University, University of Edinburgh, and Yale Divinity School. He is the author of The Authoritative Word: Preaching Truth in a Skeptical Age (Abingdon, 2001), and If Disciples Grew Like Kudzu (Bristol House, 2007).
Dr. Bouknight retired from the pastorate last year, after more than 40 years of serving churches in South Carolina and Tennessee. He is a member of the board of directors of The Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church.
|•||Bill Bouknight: The bad news from General Conference ’08|