Noted United Methodist leaders Maxie Dunnam and Eddie Fox have released separate YouTube videos in which they state opposition to several proposed constitutional amendments to be voted on this year by Annual Conferences throughout the UMC.
In the first of two videos, Dr. Dunnam argues against Amendment I, which would alter eligibility requirements for church membership by revising Paragraph Four (“Inclusiveness of the Church”) of the UM Constitution.
At first, [this amendment] seems quite benign…. [But] there is more here than meets the eye…. This amendment was brought to [the 2008] General Conference by a gay advocacy group in Texas by the name of Breaking the Silence. This is a group that has long opposed our United Methodist Book of Discipline where it states that though “all persons are of sacred worth…the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
For over 30 years, we United Methodists have made our views clear on this matter. We’re open to all persons but not to all practices. Groups that have wanted to change our grace-filled, biblical position have been unable to convince the General Conference to do so. So now they’re trying a different tactic.
The amendment is an attempt to change our position so that persons [who are] openly practicing a [homosexual] lifestyle and who have no desire to change would be allowed to join the church and continue in that lifestyle….
There are additional very serious implications. Because the amendment states no “organizational unit of the Church shall be structured to exclude any member,” you can be sure that radical gay advocacy groups will argue that practicing homosexuals, once they have joined the church, cannot be kept from the ordained ministry. It pains me to say so, but this is the real agenda behind Amendment I.
And please understand this: the Constitution trumps what’s in the rest of the Discipline. If this amendment means what I believe it means, if passed, it will make our position on homosexuality and on practicing gay clergy null and void.
See the full six-minute video below.
In a second video, Maxie Dunnam states his concerns about five amendments (numbered IV, X, XIII, XXIII, and XXV) that would allow United Methodists in the U.S. to structurally segregate themselves from United Methodists in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This would be done by creating a series of “regional conferences.”
In his video, Eddie Fox of World Methodist Evangelism also argues against the five amendments aimed at changing the UMC’s structure.
Mr. Fox has a related column here.
All 135 UM Conferences (62 Annual Conferences in the U.S. and 73 Conferences in Africa, Asia, and Europe) will vote on a total of 32 amendments, including 23 relating to the structure of the denomination. The full text of all 32 proposed amendments is here (PDF). (Note: There are two minor errors in Amendment XXV on page 18. In the second paragraph, the two references to “Article I” should read “Article II.”)
The 23 amendments related to church structure were proposed by the Task Force on the Global Nature of the Church (the Task Force’s 2007 report—PDF).
Most of the 23 are “cosmetic” in nature, simply implementing certain name changes. As noted above, the “five amendments of distinctive substance” that would actually alter the structure of the UMC are numbered IV, X, XIII, XXIII, and XXVI.
To be enacted, a constitutional amendment must be ratified by two-thirds of the aggregate “voting members” from all the Conferences. (Provisional deacons and elders, “local pastors,” and associate and affiliate clergy members are not eligible to vote — ¶602.1 of the Book of Discipline).
Members may debate a proposed amendment, but cannot alter it.
|•||Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’|
|•||Proposed amendments would separate UMC into ‘national entities’|
|•||John Ed Mathison: Seven concerns about the UMC|
|•||Bill Bouknight: The bad news from General Conference ‘08|
Related articles and information
|•||Full text of all 32 amendments (PDF)|
|•||Transcript of the brief General Conference debate on Amendment I (PDF—see pages 2705-2707)|
|•||Worldwide decision: United Methodists to vote on amending constitution | Bill Fentum, UM Reporter (April 10, 2009)|
|•||Meddling with membership | Walter B. Fenton, Good News (March/April 2009)|
|•||Inclusiveness and membership decline (on the possible implications of Amendment I) | Riley Case (March 23, 2009)|
|•||Coming soon to your Annual Conference (article on Amendment I) (PDF) | The Kindred Connection (Winter 2009) (This is a publication of an arm of the Reconciling Ministries Network — “We envision a United Methodist Church which…accords all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, full participation in the life of the church.”)|
|•||Amending away our global church? | Riley Case, Good News (March/April 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)|