THE UMC WILL HOLD TOGETHER, given a measure of tolerance of others’ views. I disagree profoundly with the Ted Campbell, the professor headlined above--the person who announced that church division is “a given” in his speech to the recent World Methodist Council meeting in Houston, U.S.A. My point is that the splitting of The United Methodist Church (UMC) has not occurred and need not occur.
I learned ABRUPTLY in the early 1970's that Christians disagree on the matter of homosexual practice. One afternoon a profoundly committed Christian student sought my counsel privately on a non-academic concern of his. In my office he confided that he was a practicing homosexual and held church membership in an anti-gay congregation. His congregation had sent him to a therapy camp where he would be made Christian (i.e. “straight”). It didn't work. In tears,he confessed that he'd endeavored sincerely to become straight through confession and prayer but discovered that change was impossible. Still in tears, he asked for guidance on how to resolve his dilemma: how to continue as a Christian and as a gay man.
By their voting in their 2016 General Conference of the UMC, a majority of delegates signaled their belief that it’s still “One man, one woman for a lifetime” for ordained clergy. Why? Some refer to the African delegates' votes as tipping the balance.
My understanding of the Africans' situation is this: many African societies still legalize polygamy. In one African nation, for example, over 30% of married women are in polygamous situations. In such cultures the “one man, one woman” standard upheld by United Methodists makes sense.
A palaver does not proceed by majority rule. The goal is to talk until that mutually satisfactory solution is found. The palaver process restores the village unity.
Our UMC Global Church would better consider itself to be a global village and adopt the goal of a satisfactory resolution through palaver.
However, I conclude that better consequences--a better Gospel witness and superior financial management as well--would result from maintaining The United Methodist Church if it finds a way ahead satisfactory to all, as in every successful village palaver.
The 2016 General Conference authorized the bishops of the UMC to convene a council to study the matter to seek an acceptable solution. Perhaps this commission will be serve as a palaver for the global village called the UMC.
Prayers that the council may be successful representatives in our global village palaver and discern a resolution acceptable to all.
Never say "Impossible." Never.