Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have a problem, but it was not caused by those who believe that all persons are persons of sacred worth but that sexual practices outside of heterosexual marriage are incompatible with Christian teaching.

We have a problem, and it will not be solved by laypersons, pastors and bishops who are more interested in keeping a troubled church together than they are in fixing the problems that trouble us.

We are in a crisis. And if our church is to remain one church, our leaders will have to heed the prophetic words of Dr. Oden. Our solution is not a progressive sexual ethic or a hybrid polity that makes us more congregational than United Methodist. Our way forward together is to accept the authority of God’s word, affirm our historic Christian faith, enforce our Book of Discipline, and honor our process of holy conferencing. Otherwise, we may move forward but it will not be together.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Commentary* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* Theology

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Posted July 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodist Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader for the Philadelphia Area, said she has received a complaint against the 36 pastors who officiated at the Nov. 9 same-sex union of two men performed at Arch Street United Methodist Church but added the matter is confidential and will be “prayerfully” considered.

In a statement released by her office in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference, Johnson said, "We are following the Disciplinary process as outlined in paragraph 363 of the 2012 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church​ and are prayerful that a just resolution can be achieved. As United Methodists, we are committed to seeking peace and reconciliation as a model for society. May it be so."

A list of the 36 pastors has not been released and a spokesperson for the group said the pastors were abiding by the bishop’s wishes not to make any statements or speak to the media at this time.

The names of the person or persons filing the complaint also have not been made public.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The panel deemed the defrocking to be an illegitimate effort to punish Mr. Schaefer for his refusal to promise not to preside at another same-sex wedding.

Mr. Schaefer, 52, described himself as “totally elated” by the appeals panel decision, and he said he would celebrate in part by taking his son Tim, at whose same-sex wedding he officiated, to a White House gay pride event on Monday. Mr. Schaefer, who until his defrocking in December had been the pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., will resume his pastoral work next month in Santa Barbara, Calif., where Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño has offered him a position ministering to college students....

“This will be confirmation for traditionalists that we are deeply divided and may not be able to live together,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, the president of Good News, a United Methodist organization that opposes same-sex marriage. “When we have people who are not only disobedient, but who find a way to not have to keep the covenant they have made with the rest of the church, it helps us see that maybe we are so different that we’ve come to the end of the road together.”

Read it all.

Update: Get Religion now has a piece on this article there.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Methodist church panel weighing whether to reinstate Frank Schaefer, the Pennsylvania pastor who lost his credentials after officiating his gay son's wedding, did not announce a decision Saturday, according to Schaefer's counsel.

The panel, composed of nine lay members and clergy from the church's northeast jurisdiction, heard Schaefer's appeal Friday in Baltimore and had been expected to announce its decision Saturday.

No reason was given for the delay. It is not known when the decision will come, but the panel has 28 days to issue a ruling.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 23, 2014 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We call upon all Kenyans;

To cease from spreading rumours, incitement and inflammatory and derogatory remarks of any kind that may spiral to ethnic violence due to the volatile atmosphere . The name calling, and ethnic profiling on social media and other public places should stop.
To obey the the rule of law, respect and uphold the Constitution of Kenya and all its instituions.
To exercise patriotism and seek to uphold national unity for the sake of development and the well-being of all. With the political, social, economic, religious and any other differences amongst us, we should acknowledge that we are united by one country- Kenya.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterianRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the grassroots, schism is unpopular. A June poll, commissioned by a UMC agency, indicates that rank and file UMC members are opposed to a church schism over homosexuality. "We found that regardless of a person's position on homosexuality, members felt strongly that the church could offer a positive and different voice to the broader conversation occurring in society today," said John Deuterman, president of Corporate Research, which conducted the survey for the UMC Communications agency.

"They overwhelmingly reject the idea that the disagreements over this issue were justification for splitting the church."

Nothing definitive is likely to occur before 2016. That's the year the UMC will convene in Portland, Oregon, its next General Convention—the legislative body of the global church with authority to speak for the entire denomination.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted June 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Orthodox leaders who are willing to name our present situation as unacceptable and untenable are being attacked as undermining the unity of the church. Expect to hear “You troubler of Israel” (2 Kings 18:17) directed at those who will not be silent about the unfaithfulness of our leaders and the crisis we are facing.

But don’t be fooled. Those who are breaking the covenant that holds us together while loudly calling for more conversation have no real desire to hear our voices or consider our views. They wish to maintain the illusion of unity until enough orthodox United Methodists have walked away or died off, so that a liberal view of the Scriptures and a progressive sexual ethic become the rule.

Good News and the 60 leaders mentioned above will be condemned for disrupting the unity of the UM Church – in fact, we already have been. But unity without integrity is not unity. And a plea for unity by those who are destroying it is a ploy. Naming the present reality for what it is does not disrupt unity – it is essential if unity is ever to be achieved.

God once chided those who cried, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). And we will not be guilty of crying, “Unity, unity,” to hide the reality that if we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Georgia’s new comprehensive gun laws go into effect July 1, many churches will opt out of allowing weapons into worship halls.

The Safe Carry Protection Act, sometimes called the “Guns Everywhere” law by opponents, goes into effect July 1. The language of the bill actually prohibits guns inside churches, unless the “governing body or authority of the place of worship permits the carrying of weapons or long guns by license holders.”

But it’s not even a concern for many Christian denominations, including in Catholic, Methodist and Episcopal churches. Leaders in all three organizations have pointed to no-weapons policies, and advised individual churches to follow the rules already in place.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted June 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More recently, however, a very different attitude to the church’s tradition has emerged. There is now abroad in theology a form of Radical Protestantism which constitutes a whole new vision of Christian faith and existence. Its proponents claim that the tradition is dominated by patriarchy and exclusion, the product of oppressive forces linked to geographical location, social class, race, and gender. It is not to be tolerated, but stamped out and destroyed. Nobody, at least in public, would be prepared to state the matter that bluntly, but that is the truth of the matter.

Like the liberals, the radicals are both absolutists and relativists, but about different matters. They absolutize a commitment to liberation, emancipation, and empowerment. Equally absolute is the privileged position of designated victims of oppression. In some radical circles we can detect that a working doctrine of divine revelation has crept back into their discourse, where certain experiences of oppression and liberation are taken as epiphanies or as visible signs of the reign of God, and anything that questions the truth embedded in these experiences must be suppressed. On the other hand, radicals insist, we should not suppress the diverse convictions, ideologies, theories, and discourses of the new included groups. They become the real focus of pluralism as we try to foster different voices, experiences, readings, and proposals within the carefully circumscribed boundaries.

Within intellectual circles in United Methodism these developments have caused some consternation. Many of the great Liberal Protestant teachers of the tradition in the last generation have become disillusioned by the loss of their cherished conceptions of critical inquiry, courtesy, and academic standards. They are undergoing a mixed sense of despair, betrayal, and alienation. Their ideas of objective scholarship have been overtaken by forms of engaged or committed scholarship which they see as a mixture of radical subjectivism and political manipulation. A fertile few have managed to find a way to take on board some of the new theories without jettisoning the deep structure of their position, but the general sense is one of weariness and deep loss.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* Theology

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Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, have today issued a joint statement to their Churches.

The Most Revd Justin Welby, the Most Revd John Sentamu, the Revd Ruth Gee and Dr Daleep Mukarji have issued the statement in response to a report that will be debated by the Methodist Conference and General Synod this year.

The report, entitled The Challenge of the Covenant, recommends that both Churches take action to enhance unity between them, with the work being fully embedded in Church structures. The report also encourages the Church of England to address the question of interchangeability of ordained ministries between the two Churches, and the Methodist Church to consider the possibility of a form of episcopal ministry (such as a 'president bishop').

The statement from the Archbishops and Methodist Presidency welcomes the report, stating that:
"The time has now come for our churches to take further, significant steps to achieve that level of reconciliation between us and partnership in the gospel that will enhance our mission together in local communities and our shared witness to the whole of society."
Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted May 22, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most information the official press releases provided came in the final release sent right after the meeting closed yesterday:

“In further conversations about the adaptive challenges facing The United Methodist Church, the residential bishops noted that Christ calls them to be in union with him, with one another, and with the Church. They recognized that they are called to lead according to the example of Jesus Christ during a challenging time within the church. Disagreements about human sexuality threaten to divide the church; and while there will be differing understandings, the bishops are called to be bishops of the whole church and to lead the church through such challenges. The residential bishops had conversations about how they could carry out the Book of Discipline and lead during this time. The conversation involved listening and forthright discussion in a covenant of grace-filled hospitality and truth-telling. No decisions or agreements were reached during these conversations.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This one’s in honor of everyone finishing up seminary exams or recovering from the Holy Week ministry binge. I don’t know how YOUR denomination do, but mine is all over some “clergy excellence,” and we have all these reports and numbers we have to keep to prove that our church isn’t dying. It’s set up to combat the fact that the mainline denominations really are not growing. It’s also set up to combat lazy or crappy pastoring. The problem is that we have to be more perfect than Jesus, and the pressure to always grow and do great things can really be overwhelming. I find myself pouring more energy into excellent programming, and not enough time in real discipleship formation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted May 4, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clearly, United Theological Seminary not only emphasizes renewal, they model it. In striving for renewal in local churches or the broader denomination, several take-aways can be lifted from the United story.

• United is saturated by prayer.

• United is committed to the historic, orthodox faith and understanding of the scriptures.

• United honors the faith of the saints who have gone before.

• United was desperate for God to do something supernatural. This seems like an essential characteristic in the study of genuine revivals of the past and present.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

0 Comments
Posted May 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.

I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterMissions* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted April 21, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once upon a time, from the UUA on down, “Headquarters” buildings were statements of power: “Look! We are important! ‘Notice us!’” But just as cathedrals don’t tower in an age of skyscrapers, so impressive-looking headquarters no longer draw notice. And “secularization” is only part of the reason for this change.

When we look at secular analogues, we see that newspaper and other publishing empires are down-sizing for many reasons, including digitalization and the demands and opportunities that come with the internet. Today denominational and agency business is largely transacted in ways that permit employees to work from home, committees to meet by Skype, Conference Call, and other digital means. Many in the “secular” public make up their minds about the power and value of religious works and workings not based on images of huge Interchurch Centers or denominational Power Houses, but based on what they do....

Planners in religious agencies may regret turning the key to close the Big House doors for the last time, but wise planners are using their skills and energies to advance their work through non-elite, less-strategically-located bases of operation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Michael McKee has suspended the Rev. Bill McElvaney for performing a high-profile same-sex wedding in Dallas on March 1, 2014. News of the suspension was revealed in a message from McElvaney on the website of Northaven United Methodist Church, a congregation that was once led by the 85-year-old retired McElvaney.

In the posted message, McElvaney said he received a letter March 7 from Bishop Michael McKee informing him that the Rev. Camille Gaston, the district superintendent in the area, had filed a complaint against him. McElvaney reports that his clergy responsibilities had been suspended for 90 days.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As mainline Protestant denominations continue decades of decline, one of the main institutions helping educate its leaders announced Wednesday (March 19) that it will shut its doors.

Since it was founded four decades ago, the Virginia-based Alban Institute has guided mostly mainline congregations through consulting and publishing. Its founder and former president, the Rev. Loren Mead, became well-known for his speaking and writing about the future of U.S. denominations and was one of the first to predict denominational decline.

“When I started as a parish pastor, I found there wasn’t much help or continuing education,” said Mead, a retired Episcopal priest. “I am glad I have been able to contribute to the church, but I have not been able to solve its turnaround.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEcclesiology

0 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those who are waiting for a full reversal of church prohibitions, the dismissal of the Ogletree complaint is not enough.

Dorothee Benz of Methodists in New Directions, an advocacy group that has provided direct support to the retired pastor, commended McLee’s “very bold step” to find “a new way out of this problem,” and said the time for complacency is over....

“I’m heartened, but we’re not there,” said Lyn Ellis, co-coordinator of Affirmation, a long-time advocacy group. “Justice can’t be served if this can happen again.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Good News thanks the complainants, the Revs. Randall Paige and Roy Jacobsen, for their courageous attempt to maintain the church’s faithfulness to its doctrine and Discipline. They set an example for all of us to follow in their willingness to stand up publicly for biblical teaching. We cannot predict the future course of events, but when some parts of the church declare by their words and actions that they will no longer live by our agreed-upon way of discipleship, it puts the long-term viability of The United Methodist Church as a united body in grave jeopardy. - See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2014/03/good-news-statement-regarding-the-ogletree-case/#sthash.c3vf0lpZ.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am disturbed that this settlement appears to represent a determination on the part of the New York Annual Conference leaders that they will no longer enforce or uphold the Discipline on this matter. While dialog and deep listening are good, they are no substitute for living up to the vows of obedience we took as United Methodist clergy, even when we disagree with the provisions we are asked to obey. Bishop McLee’s commitment to have no more trials for those accused of performing same-sex services means that numerous complaints that are in process will be held in abeyance, and further complaints will be discouraged.

The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, I cannot support this settlement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head bishop of the United Methodist Church in New York on Monday committed to ending church trials in his region for ministers who perform same sex-marriages, essentially freeing them to conduct a ceremony still prohibited under his denomination’s laws.

As the first sitting United Methodist bishop to publicly make such a pledge, Bishop Martin D. McLee instantly became a leading figure in a decades-old movement within the United Methodist Church, the country’s second-largest Protestant denomination, to extend equal recognition and rights to gay and lesbian members. Though Bishop McLee said that he hoped his approach would heal the church’s deep divisions over homosexuality, more conservative Methodists warned that his actions would push the denomination closer to an irrevocable split.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many ways, [Kayla] Montgomery’s life resembles that of an ordinary high school track athlete. Before every race, she puts on the same lucky green sports bra and size 5 ½ racing flats that carry her 5-foot-1 frame. She is deeply involved with her Methodist church, along with her younger sister and her parents, a nursing student and a pesticide salesman. She carries a 4.70 grade-point average and logs 50 miles a week.

Though examples of elite athletes with M.S. are scarce, some have speculated that Montgomery’s racing-induced numbness lends a competitive edge, especially given the improvement in her times since the diagnosis.

“The disease has no potential to make her physically more competitive,” said her neurologist, Lucie Lauve, who also said she did not know precisely why Montgomery collapsed after races. “If M.S. has made her a better athlete, I believe it is a mental edge.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSportsTeens / Youth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O holy and ever-blessed Jesus, who being the eternal Son of God and most high in the glory of the Father, didst vouchsafe in love for us sinners to be born of a pure virgin, and didst humble thyself unto death, even the death of the cross : Deepen within us, we beseech thee, a due sense of thy infinite love; that adoring and believing in thee as our Lord and Saviour, we may trust in thy infinite merits, imitate thy holy example, obey thy commands, and finally enjoy thy promises; who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, one God, world without end.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2014 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The last 40 years of American cultural] change situates The United Methodist Church in a state of confusion, denial, grief, and rapid decline. In our attempt to be something for everybody, we have become irrelevant to most people in our mission fields. Once again the United Methodist movement represents between 1 and 3 percent of the US population, and we find ourselves competing for the hearts and minds of people who don’t know us and seem very disinterested in an organized church.

This has resulted in at least a 40 percent decline in The United Methodist Church since 1963. The rapid decline is well documented, and this contributed to a corporate depression and malaise across the system. Due to aging leadership, contracting income, and cultural polarizations, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church functions very much the same way as the United States Congress, which is to say that it doesn’t really function very well at all....First, real organizational change always comes from the bottom up and the outside in. It rarely occurs from the top of the organization itself. Very few organizations can self-reform without a major crisis (e.g., exile). Although we are experiencing a slow fade and a slow death as an organization, we have yet to face a major crisis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

1 Comments
Posted February 20, 2014 at 7:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nation will mark the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday (Jan. 20) with speeches, prayers and volunteer service.

But for decades, retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie W. White has marked the holiday in a more personal way: He writes a “birthday letter” to the civil rights leader who was killed in 1968.

“It was a way to get kind of a year’s assessment on what the nation was accomplishing and not accomplishing in the area of race,” said White, a bishop-in-residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology for the last decade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz, announced Friday. It's the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships. In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son's gay wedding. The church considers homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church's New York district, or Annual Conference. Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son's 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The story of William Taylor also points to a phenomenon that I term the “global reflex.” Missionaries not only shaped foreign contexts, but they themselves were shaped by their experiences abroad. In a Western context preoccupied with “civilizing” indigenous peoples, they saw examples of indigenous effectiveness and sought to emulate them. Missionaries not only adopted new methods, but also became convinced that ordinary, “uncivilized” Christians could build Methodism at home too.

This was an important point for Taylor as he bumped up against a modernizing United States and a gentrifying Methodism. He had little patience for a nation bent on bureaucratization, industrial growth, and technology. Even religious leaders in America, in Taylor’s estimation, had fallen prey to over-systematization. He resented bishops who tried to prescribe geographical boundaries for his evangelistic work and who tried to limit the use of laity in evangelism. He resented when they tried to control his activities through formal review processes. For much of his career, he tried to escape these systems, to work unencumbered by the bureaucracies of the Methodist Missionary Society and the Methodist Episcopal Church, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Increasing numbers of Methodists were drawn to this critique and to Taylor’s missionary exploits.

These American Methodists, who opposed modernist systematization and sought to depend more fully on the supernatural, formed the backbone of a burgeoning holiness movement. Its adherents opposed the proliferation of rational planning and “church machinery and ritualism,” as a 1881 writer for the Advocate of Christian Holiness put it. In 1882 Taylor himself declared, “I believe in creating missions in foreign lands by the power of God, but do not believe in a fictitious creation of foreign missions in New York by the policy of men.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted January 17, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders are encouraging politicians to sustain the momentum and energy generated by the Haass talks.

In a joint statement from the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches together with the Irish Council of Churches they applaud the ‘strenuous and sincere efforts put in by all involved in seeking to find solutions to some of the most contentious issues we face’.

They also recognise the ‘profoundly challenging’ nature of the issues to be addressed but firmly believe that ‘a peaceful and reconciled society is possible’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterianRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An award-winning pastor and the congregation he leads at the Flora-Bama lounge have left the United Methodist denomination, he confirmed Wednesday.

The Rev. Jeremy Mount, who received the Harry Denman Evangelism Award in June at the United Methodists’ annual meeting in Mobile, turned in his credentials in mid-December, he said. He is the third well-known pastor to leave the Alabama-West Florida Conference in 2013.

“We’ve always loved the local churches we’ve been a part of,” said Mount, who was discipleship pastor at Perdido Bay UMC and led Worship on the Water as a ministry of the church. “We have had a harder time dealing with the larger structure of the denomination.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was an expensive media spectacle. A United Methodist pastor had presided at the marriage ceremony of his gay son and his partner, and several years later was brought before a jury of his peers to answer for his disobedience to the laws of the United Methodist Church. As the broader society wrestled with the legality of same-sex marriage, the teachings and the means of addressing conflict in the UMC were put on display, to the satisfaction of some and the horror of others.

The question of the value of public church trials has been under the microscope in recent weeks in the wake of Frank Schaefer’s trial, conviction, and defrocking; the decision by the Council of Bishops to ask two of their own to file formal charges against Bishop Melvin Talbert for his presiding at a celebration of marriage service for two gay men in Alabama; and the increasing number of United Methodist clergy who are ignoring the UM Book of Discipline’s provisions forbidding UM clergy from participating in services celebrating the union of gay couples. There have been calls by church leaders and advocates for a moratorium on church trials related to gay marriage. And today, an advocacy group working to end “heterosexist policies and practices” in the UMC issued a statement expressing their opposition to such a moratorium, suggesting that a moratorium would allow the church to ignore same-sex concerns rather than moving to repeal what they believe are “discriminatory laws.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s a story so strange we could not have dreamed it up by ourselves, this story of how God was incarnate in Jesus the Christ. An embarrassing pregnancy, a poor peasant couple forced to become undocumented immigrants in Egypt soon after the birth of their baby, King Herod’s slaughter of the Jewish boy babies in a vain attempt to put an end to this new “King,” From the beginning the story of Jesus is the strangest story of all. A Messiah who avoids the powerful and the prestigious and goes to the poor and dispossessed? A Savior who is rejected by many of those whom he sought to save? A King who reigns from a bloody cross? Can this one with us be God?

And yet Christians believe that this story, for all its strangeness, is true. Here we have a truthful account of how our God read us back into the story of God. This is a truthful depiction not only of who God really is but also of how we who were lost got found, redeemed, restored, and saved by a God who refused to let our rejection and rebellion (our notorious “God problem”) be the final word in the story.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s tough to be on the receiving end of love, God’s or anybody else’s. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts. "Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace," wrote John Wesley a long time ago.

Among the most familiar Christmas texts is the one in Isaiah: "The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (7:14) Less familiar is its context: Isaiah has been pleading with King Ahaz to put his trust in God’s promise to Israel rather than in alliances with strong military powers like Syria. "If you will not believe, you shall not be established," Isaiah warns Ahaz (7:9). Then the prophet tells the fearful king that God is going to give him a baby as a sign. A baby. Isn’t that just like God, Ahaz must have thought. What Ahaz needed, with Assyria breathing down his neck, was a good army, not a baby.

This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving a little, of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About half of Schaefer’s former church left since news of the wedding became public this spring, a combination of supporters struggling with the turmoil and critics.

“What should be a neutral setting right now — a church — is not, it’s a hostile place,” said Jon Boger, whose complaint about Schaefer set the case off. “But time heals everything, right?”

Liam Casey, a Zion member, said he had hoped Schaefer would find a way to stay.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 21, 2013 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...far from intimidating others, the trial and defrocking of Mr. Schaefer have galvanized a wave of Methodist ministers to step forward to disobey church prohibitions against marrying and ordaining openly gay people.

Members of the United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest Christian denomination, have been battling bitterly over homosexuality for four decades. The church now faces an increasingly determined uprising by clergy members and laypeople who have refused to cede, even after losing the most recent votes, at the Methodist convention last year, on proposals to change church teaching.

“After 40 years of playing nice and attempting a legislative solution, we will not wait any longer,” said Matt Berryman, a former Methodist pastor who said he turned in his credentials because he is gay. He now serves as the executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a Methodist gay rights group.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyRace/Race RelationsSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted December 20, 2013 at 10:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Frank Schaefer says he is not ready to give up on The United Methodist Church and will immediately seek an appeal of a decision to take away his ministerial credentials.

The United Methodist Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference’s board of ordained ministry made the decision Dec. 19, to follow through with a church trial’s penalty to ask Schaefer to surrender his credentials if he cannot uphold the denomination’s lawbook “in its entirety.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 20, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon had already been suspended when he met with church officials to determine whether he would continue as a pastor.

Schaefer had been told to resign from the clergy by Thursday if he could not follow the denomination's Book of Discipline. But Schaefer has said the book discriminates against gay people and vowed this week that he would not voluntarily surrender his credentials.

Church spokesman John Coleman said that officials decided to defrock him.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted December 19, 2013 at 9:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United Methodist minister in Pennsylvania plans to defy a church order to surrender his credentials for performing a same-sex wedding.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer says he cannot uphold the church's Book of Discipline because he finds it discriminatory. The Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members but rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Read it all.



Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

9 Comments
Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rather than focusing on zombies as campy characters in B-movies, our sermon series reimagined zombies in a more symbolic way. Zombies became the bad ideas that have popped up at various misguided moments in the church’s history and, for whatever reason, can’t seem to die off. They keep coming back and, in some cases, exert a kind of stranglehold on the life of Christians and the ministry of the church.

And the way we fight off these zombies is with better ideas — with good, solid theology that reflects the grace of God, the compassion of Jesus and life of the Spirit.

During our six-week series, we exhumed and battled all kinds of zombies. One Sunday morning, we focused on belief. As Christians, does it matter what we believe? Most would answer in the affirmative. But are there times in the church’s life when Christian faith has become only about believing certain things to be true? Absolutely. Many de-churched folks can trace their journeys out of their congregations to the day that they stopped believing all of the fantastical things they were being asked to believe.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristology

2 Comments
Posted December 11, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who died Thursday (Dec. 5), had a deep connection with religious institutions.

Mandela was educated, first at Clarkebury and then at Healdtown, Methodist boarding schools that provided a Christian liberal arts education.

“Both were important influences on his life,” said Presiding Bishop Zipho Siwa of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. “Indeed, after his time at Clarkebury, the young Mandela said his horizons had been broadened.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

1 Comments
Posted December 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jon Boger, who filed the initialcomplaint against Schaefer, was outraged by Schaefer’s recalcitrance.

The career Naval officer grew up in Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, the church that Schaefer has led for 11 years.

“Frank Schaefer sat here and openly rebuked the United Methodist Church, its policies, standards and doctrines,” Bolger said when called as a rebuttal witness. “He should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking to a group of reporters after the trial ended, he said he was surprised he walked out of the trial with the title of “Rev.”

“I gave them every excuse in the book to defrock me immediately but that did not happen,” he said. “I am still wondering what it means. I told them clearly that I can no longer be a silent supporter but now I feel I have to an outspoken advocate for all lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people.”

The 30-day suspension seems to be “time for me to change my mind,” he said. “I am here to tell you, I will not change my mind. I am what I am.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 23, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Schaefer, a Methodist pastor put on trial for presiding over his son's same-sex wedding, said he expected to be defrocked at the end of that period.

If asked, he said, he would officiate over another gay marriage during his 30-day suspension.

"I am no longer willing to accept the church's hate speeches, the church's treatment of some people like they are second-grade Christians. We must stop harming beloved children of God in the name of Christ," said Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon County, Pa.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 20, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Frank Schaefer has been given a 30-day suspension by the jury in his church trial and told that if he can’t uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety he must surrender his credentials.

Schaefer was found guilty Nov. 18 of violating the church’s law against pastors performing same-sex unions and of disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. He acknowledged having performed the same-sex wedding of his son, Tim, in 2007.

The 30 day-suspension will cover both convictions, the jury said in a decision announced about 9 p.m. Eastern time. Schaefer also is to be monitored by his district superintendent in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference and must meet with the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry during the suspension period.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted November 20, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 19, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the jurors were seated, [Retired Bishop Alfred] Gwinn explained to them that both sides of the trials had agreed to two facts. First, [the Rev. Frank] Schaefer had performed a same-sex ceremony that involved his son and partner in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on April 28, 2007. Second, Schaefer signed a certificate of marriage that stated he “solemnized the marriage” and that he was ordained United Methodist clergy of The United Methodist Church.

Schaefer declared “not guilty” to both of the charges he faces, which fall under the 2004 Book of Discipline. He is accused of violating these two parts of Paragraph 2702.1:

(b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings,15 including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies;**

(d) disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church;

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 19, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United Methodist pastor was convicted Monday of breaking church law by officiating his son's same-sex wedding and could be defrocked after a high-profile trial that has rekindled debate over the denomination's policy on gay marriage.

The Methodist church put the Rev. Frank Schaefer on trial in southeastern Pennsylvania, accusing him of breaking his pastoral vows by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts.

The 13-member jury convicted Schaefer on two charges: That he officiated a gay wedding, and that he showed "disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church."

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church’s division over homosexuality grew heated Friday (Nov. 15), as the denomination’s Council of Bishops called for charging retired Bishop Melvin Talbert with presiding at the Oct. 26 wedding of two men, which the church forbids.

The council asked its president, Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference, to file a complaint accusing Talbert of undermining the ministry of a colleague and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the wedding of a same-gender couple at Covenant Community United Church of Christ in Center Point, Ala.

Talbert, who served as bishop of the San Francisco area, ignored a request not to perform the ceremony. He has said in the past that the church’s position on homosexuality “is wrong and evil … it no longer calls for our obedience.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2013 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following the action of a retired bishop to conduct a same-gender ceremony in violation of church law, the United Methodist Council of Bishops took a series of actions to address the issue during their annual meeting this week in Lake Junaluska, N.C.

The Council requested that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference file a complaint regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert’s action, for “undermining the ministry of a colleague and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple.”

“When there are violations of the Book of Discipline, a response is required,” the bishops said in a statement.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“In the western section of the diocese,” the Rev. John Stark Ravenscroft told North Carolina Episcopalians in 1825, “the prospect (of advancing the faith) is very discouraging, though not without hope.”

“Spiritual destitution” is how Bishop Levi Silliman Ives characterized our region’s religious landscape 19 years later, though the physical landscape was “beautiful and striking, far beyond my powers of description.”

Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians had made great spiritual progress in Western North Carolina as early as the 18th century. Samuel Edney, head of the Methodist church’s Swannanoa circuit, established the first camp meeting west of the Blue Ridge in what is now Edneyvillle in the 1790s; in 1797, the Rev. George Newton turned Asheville’s Union Hill Academy into a Presbyterian school named after him. The French Broad Baptist Church was organized in Henderson County in 1780, and regional churches formed the French Broad Baptist Association in 1807.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

5 Comments
Posted November 4, 2013 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At Turning Point United Methodist Church, there are hot meals for the hungry, roundtables for women and after-school programs for children — and for the downtrodden there is hope.

Led by their newly installed pastor, the Rev. Annie Allen, the church has taken on an increasingly involved role in reaching out to the city’s poor in spirit.

Allen has called on her background in social services and government for her new mission. She has worked by a favorite, oft-repeated statement: “Out of the pulpit, onto the pavement.”

“I love the cities, and I’m not afraid to be in the cities,” Allen said. “I want to nurture our community and be seen to be part of downtown Trenton.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPovertyUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Was ..[this] event the first step in the unraveling of the United Methodist Church, or was it (as some attendees at the wedding suggested) no big deal?

Within the broader culture this probably isn’t a big deal in the face of more and more states legalizing gay marriage. The writing is pretty much on the wall that the legal distinctions between homosexuality and heterosexuality are eroding, and that a secular society can embrace the belief that all people are invited to the table and can share in the benefits of covenanted, mutual monogamy.

But the issues involved for our church are more troubling for Bishop Talbert’s actions raise more questions than simply whether gay folks can marry. The issues are many: the radical differences in culture between the various regions of the country (let alone the world); the nature of the vows clergy make and the covenant between them and the church; the lack of trust between members of the Council of Bishops, which permeates the larger church; our belief in a system of governance based on corporate discernment and how we respond when a minority believes that that actions of the majority are unjust. In off-the-record conversations with a few bishops I’ve heard concern and predictions that the divisions are too great, and that the covenant that they hold with one another is broken. For some the notion of a retired bishop challenging the practice of ministry of an active bishop in her episcopal area and defying her authority raises issues about the place and status of retired bishops and the need for term episcopacy like that of the Central Conferences.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church’s highest court issued three rulings this weekend that do not change church policy toward gays and lesbians but allow bishops to accept resolutions expressing dissent from church teachings.

The Judicial Council affirmed a resolution approved by New York Bishop Martin McLee that celebrates congregations and individuals that “provide for the pastoral needs of same-sex couples within the United Methodist Church.”

It said that the resolution is “aspirational,” and does not call for action that contradicts the Book of Discipline, the United Methodist book of doctrine and laws, which defines homosexual conduct as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, the doors shut out the disagreements about church law as United Methodists Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince vowed to love each other for the rest of their lives in a wedding ceremony performed by retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert.

Before the wedding. television cameras from several news stations rolled outside Covenant Community United Church of Christ. The two men and Bishop Talbert faced questions about why, and what it would mean for them to disregard their denomination’s stance that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching and that ordained clergy are forbidden to perform a same-sex marriage....

For Talbert, the answer to why and what lies ahead is more complicated.

“On May 4, 2012 (during the 2012 United Methodist General Conference), I declared that the church’s official position is wrong and evil …it no longer calls for our obedience.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not long ago, United Theological Seminary (UTS) in the Dayton, Ohio area was just another declining, has-been mainline seminary, facing ominous financial hardships, dominated by Scripture-demoting theological liberalism, and reflective of so much of what was wrong with its shrinking sponsoring denomination, the United Methodist Church. The former seminary of the Evangelical United Brethren (which merged with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church in 1968) was founded by Bishop Milton Wright, father of the famed Wright brothers.

Today, the school is a very different place than what many alumni experienced. It is now explicitly committed to a high view of biblical authority, “the historic Christian faith,” “the cultivation of holiness,” and “the renewal of the church.” Rev. Dr. Wendy Deichmann, UTS’s president since 2008, openly associates with the Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church, an evangelical caucus group with which IRD’s UMAction program has worked closely over the years. Applicants for faculty positions must be explicitly committed “to the historic Christian faith.”

God has clearly been blessing this new direction under the leadership of President Deichmann.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted October 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church’s highest court gathers for its semiannual meeting in Baltimore on Wednesday, as the denomination confronts a growing movement of defiant clergy members opposed to church doctrine on gays and unwilling to back down.

They include:

The Rev. Steve Heiss, of Binghamton, N.Y. Heiss must promise by Thursday (Oct. 24), that he will never again preside at a same-sex wedding or face a church trial that could lead to his loss of clergy credentials. He said he will refuse.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa. He will be tried Nov. 18-19 for officiating at the 2007 same-sex wedding of his son.
The Rev. Gordon Hutchings of Tacoma, Wash. He faces a complaint for presiding at a same-sex marriage in his state.
The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy of New York. She faces a complaint of being a practicing lesbian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For these two United Methodist men, the only thing missing from their love story is a holy ceremony officiated and blessed by a United Methodist pastor in the presence of their family and friends in Birmingham, Ala.

That day will come on Oct. 26, and retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert will officiate at their wedding.

[Joe] Openshaw, [Bobby] Prince and [Bishop Melvin] Talbert are publicly defying the denomination’s law book, which states marriage is only between a man and a woman and that no ordained United Methodist elder can officiate at a same-sex union.

They do this knowing the consequences.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 21, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 30 United Methodist pastors from Eastern Pennsylvania have agreed to jointly officiate a same-sex marriage next month, an unprecedented showing of solidarity for an embattled colleague that could lead to their ouster from the pulpit.

The colleague is the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who faces a Nov. 18 church trial in Chester County for officiating at the 2007 marriage between his son and another man.

Schaefer's fellow pastors call that an act of love, not a prosecutable offense. They gathered Thursday at a Philadelphia church and, after more than two hours, agreed to preside as a group at a same-sex marriage, a step they hope jolts the larger church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 21, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carey Nieuwhof is not a United Methodist. Nope, he’s the pastor of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, Canada which is part of a network of churches that have been influenced by Andy Stanley’s North Point Ministries. And yet, he’s a voice we should be listening to because again and again Carey posts pithy articles on church leadership and evangelism that are worth thinking about. Today (which you have have already read) he unpacked the 8 reasons most churches never break the 200 in attendance mark:

You know why most churches still don’t push past the 200 mark in attendance?
You ready?
They organize, behave, lead and manage like a small organization.
Think about it.
There’s a world of difference between how you organize a corner store and how you organize a larger supermarket.


Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Half a century ago, the denominations under the mainline umbrella dominated the American faith landscape. Now, after decades of declining numbers, only about one in five U.S. adults identifies with a mainline denomination such as United Methodists, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and American Baptists.

Could replacing the “mainline” name help stem the slide? The challenge came from scholar and Presbyterian pastor Carol Howard Merritt. Writing in the venerable Christian Century magazine, she called for a new brand that conveys her view of the mainline’s rising diversity and social justice leadership.

“The image of an all-white, elitist church is not going to fly for generations to come,” said Merritt, an author and speaker who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn. “’Mainline’ was a good historic marker but the future needs to reflect who we are now.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

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Posted October 16, 2013 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rulings on recent actions by United Methodist annual (regional) conferences regarding church law on homosexuality issues will be considered by the denomination’s top court this fall.

Those decisions of law by bishops are among the 17 docket items on the United Methodist Judicial Council’s agenda when it meets Oct. 23-26 at the Sheraton City Center in Baltimore. No oral hearings are scheduled for this meeting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 26, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) of the Church of England and Methodist Church in Britain has called for "Church leaders and decision-making bodies to make the Covenant a priority in order to bring our Churches closer together in mission and holiness."

In a major Report published this week the JIC calls on both Churches to consider the impact that the 10-year-old Anglican Methodist Covenant has made on their relationship; to rejoice in the progress that has been made; and to face together the challenges of mission.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Finitude, contingency, transience. These three linked words signal basic elements of what it is to be a human—and especially to be a historian. David Tracy, noted theologian and next door study-neighbor, taught me this connection, and I’ve let it color my life and scholarly preoccupations. It will help us interpret the almost reflexive use of the rubric “decline” in relation to the western Christian presence. Specifically, do a search for “mainline Protestant” and “decline” and you will get the picture, millions of times over.

Everything and everyone dies, is subject to accidents and change, and all human endeavor will pass and be forgotten. What can a church historian do with this obvious insight at such a time as ours? Given my parallel calling as a peregrinating lecturer, I use the vantage acquired there to try to sense the comings and goings of topics for inquiry. One way to measure public curiosity is to listen to questions asked after a lecture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

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Posted August 23, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ome scholars with roots in more traditional churches caution against overstating the importance of liberal religion. The recent work on the subject is “a nice rebalancing of the historiographical ledgers,” said Mark Noll, a historian of religion at Notre Dame and a prominent evangelical intellectual. But for a tradition to have any continuing influence, he added, it needs committed bodies in the pews.

That point is seconded by Ms. Coffman, who worked as an editor at Christianity Today before entering academia. She currently teaches at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution where pastors in training, she said, are less likely to be savoring their broad cultural victories than debating which elements of evangelical worship they should adopt to attract a viable congregation.

“I teach at a mainline seminary, and we do not feel very triumphal,” Ms. Coffman said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

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Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first known use of the word “mainline” to describe the largest Protestant denominations and distinguish them from their growing evangelical and fundamentalist counterparts appeared in the New York Times in 1960—at the very moment when mainline Protestantism began its rapid decline. You don’t call something “mainline” or “mainstream” unless its supremacy is being disputed (think of the “mainstream media”). And the supremacy of older, more socially prestigious churches within American Protestantism was being directly disputed in the mid-1950s. It’s impossible to speak with precision about what constituted mainline Christianity, but in general the mainline churches de-emphasized doctrinal differences; were Northern and Midwestern rather than Southern; promoted social causes rather than personal conversion or repentance; and virtually always took the liberal line in politics. By 1960, liberal Protestantism enjoyed almost nothing of the authority that had seemed unassailable 15 years earlier.

In “The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline,” Elesha Coffman charts the half-century ascendancy of liberal Protestantism in American society from its beginnings in northern seminaries at the turn of the 20th century to its brief triumphant moment immediately after World War II, when it had no effective rival. She does this through the lens of the magazine that, in the absence of any formal governing body, was effectively this strand of Protestantism’s voice and conscience: the Christian Century.

Read it all (if needed another link is there).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

3 Comments
Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Middle-aged and senior women at a Knoxville church did a Harlem Shake dance, while a Kodak church’s staff plans to jump out of an airplane.

These activities may seem a little out of the ordinary, but they are being done by area United Methodist church members to allow one very normal activity letting more people in Africa enjoy everyday life without the fear of malaria.

Since the worldwide United Methodist Church decided to try to raise $75 million in the fight against malaria due in part to the urging of Microsoft president and philanthropist Bill Gates, the local Holston Conference agreed in 2012 to try to raise $1 million.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We realize that all of us are fundamentally sinners (members of the LGBTQ community no more so than me), in desperate need of the restoration uniquely available in Jesus. Methodists were historically known for recognizing that we also need a Christian community who loves us enough to challenge us when we sin.

We submit to Jesus as Lord. If He is truly Lord, then no area of our lives can be off-limits to Him. Jesus spoke strongly about the centrality of self-denial in following Him, which often means dramatic personal sacrifices, including not acting on powerful desires for things outside of God’s best for us. This is rather different from just seeking religious endorsement for how we have already decided to live our lives. But Jesus and new life in Him are more than worth it.

We are a biblical church. Our core doctrine calls the Bible “the true rule and guide for faith and practice.” Even liberal biblical scholars now agree that the Old and New Testaments are very clear in their moral disapproval of homosexual practice. I will never forget the courageous witness of a same-sex attracted friend I got to know while earning my master’s at Harvard Divinity School. After a relative asked him what more he could possibly expect the Bible to say to convince him of its position on homosexuality, he committed himself to celibacy and went on to faithfully serve in ministry. More fundamentally, Scripture paints a beautiful picture of marriage as a holy covenant of intensely intimate, self-giving community between man and woman, uniting the two most basic, equal categories of humanity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 3, 2013 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Denominationalism is not dead but, increasingly, it’s only one of several options for organizing the church in America,” explained Baptist historian Bill Leonard, the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest School of Divinity.

Increasing pluralism in the United States and the decreasing influence of Protestantism are forcing denominational leaders to ask hard questions about identity, viability and relevance.

Pluralism, “which Baptists helped put into place,” is becoming more normative, Leonard said. The rise of the “nones”—people with no connection to organized religion— also plays into the challenges denominations face.

Gone are the days when communities formulated policy and activities around the church. “We are living through the death rattle of the Protestant privilege,” Leonard said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistPentecostalPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ

6 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When it comes to leading denominational conversations on sexual violence, clergy across traditions express twin reactions: encouragement over the protocols already in place and the efforts of fellow advocates; and frustration with a culture of silence around sexual violence in the church. Despite strikingly different experiences across denominations — and church by church — the clergy, church staff, and seminarians who spoke with Sojourners are in agreement that addressing this issue in one’s own house is complicated at every level.

First, the good news: Several major Protestant denominations, across progressive and fundamentalist strains, subscribe to a practice of what the United Methodist Church calls “safe sanctuary” — a commitment to ensure their church buildings and leadership are free from sexual predators. These policies generally include running background checks on any volunteers working with children and establishing protocols (many developed by Marie Fortune and the Faith Trust Institute) for interpersonal interaction at the church.

These denominational policies are the first line of defense against abuse, particularly of children, in houses of worship. So what else, if anything, beyond this basic groundwork is needed from leadership?

This is where consensus breaks down, and in speaking with clergy and seminarians across denominations and traditions, various barriers and fear patterns were revealed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2013 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fire caused an estimated $950,000 in structural damage, which doesn’t include the cost of the property damage lost in the contents of the church. It would have been a formidable sum to a relatively small congregation, but the church’s insurance will cover the cost of the new construction, Bolin said.

A construction crew was on site Friday, digging the footings for the building’s foundations. Ted Hardy, a job supervisor with Jackson/Sims Architects, said the new facility will resemble the original building.

“It will look like a traditional Southern church,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted June 2, 2013 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United Methodist theologian and retired elder is facing formal charges under church law and a potential trial for officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired seminary dean noted for his work on Christian ethics, presided over the wedding of his son, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree, to Nicholas Haddad on Oct. 20. The service took place at the Yale Club in New York City.

Ogletree, 79, is a Yale Divinity School professor emeritus, veteran of the civil rights movement and lifelong member of the Methodist tradition. He told United Methodist News Service that as a professor, he rarely has been asked to perform weddings. When his son asked him to officiate, he said he felt “deeply moved.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted May 8, 2013 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beloved New York Annual Conference:

Many of you may have read the recently published article in The New York Times that centered on same sex marriage and The United Methodist Church. The confidentiality requirements of the complaint process prevent me from discussing the case in detail. However, as is the case on many issues confronting the church today, there are multiple perspectives associated with human sexuality.

There is also a multiplicity of other concerns that we are confronted with as a body of Christian believers. Immigration reform, gun violence, poverty and the challenges within our criminal justice system are but a few of the significant issues on the local and national landscape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It started out as a deeply personal act, that of a father officiating at the wedding of his son.

But it was soon condemned as a public display of ecclesiastical disobedience, because the father, the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, is a minister in the United Methodist Church, which does not allow its clergy to perform same-sex weddings.

Dr. Ogletree, 79, is now facing a possible canonical trial for his action, accused by several New York United Methodist ministers of violating church rules. While he would not be the first United Methodist minister to face discipline for performing a same-sex wedding, he could well be the one with the highest profile. He is a retired dean of Yale Divinity School, a veteran of the nation’s civil rights struggles and a scholar of the very type of ethical issues he is now confronting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

5 Comments
Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people’s notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)Theology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 30, 2013 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first, Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., could see itself as exempt from the economic forces shaking seminaries and theological schools nationwide. Luther is the biggest seminary for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. Among its peers, it had a reputation for being innovative. Individual donors continued to give, and its local area -- in one of the country’s most Lutheran states -- was supportive.

Last fall, though, it all came crashing down. Enrollments were dropping. The seminary found it was running multimillion-dollar deficits, spending down its endowment and relying on loans. In December, its president, the Rev. Dr. Richard Bliese, resigned, as the seminary’s board began to look at options to trim at least $4 million from the seminary’s $27 million annual budget.

The results were announced...[not long ago]: layoffs for 18 of its 125 staff members, many effective within a few weeks; the voluntary departure of 8 of 44 faculty members at the end of the academic year, who will not be replaced; the termination of a master’s program in sacred music; and the decision to no longer admit Ph.D students for at least three years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted April 17, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Margaret Thatcher was forever the thrifty Methodist grocer’s daughter of Grantham. Her father was both lay preacher and Conservative Party stalwart. They attended the Methodist church several times every Sabbath and heeded many then Methodist strictures against theater-going and dancing. Her family’s social life was enmeshed in the church’s sewing meetings, youth guilds, and missions work, as she recalled to the Catholic Herald 35 years ago.

“Methodism is the most marvelous evangelical faith and there is the most marvelous love and feeling for music in the Methodist Church which I think is greater than in the Anglican Church,” she then remembered. “But you sometimes feel the need for a slightly more formal service and perhaps a little bit more formality in the underlying theology too.”

Although married in John Wesley’s London Chapel, Thatcher later converted to her husband’s Anglicanism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

9 Comments
Posted April 10, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The possibility of dividing the United Methodist Church as a way out of persistent conflicts over homosexuality has been raised enough times in recent years to warrant serious reflection on what it would entail. The fact that Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans have all seen either formal divisions or significant withdrawals of congregations from their denominations over these issues does not bode well for the UMC.

But as tempting as the idea might be as a way out of our conflicts, we would have to think about realities like the following....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted April 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The National Prayer Service is an important tradition in the United States,” Hamilton said in a statement released Friday by the Presidential Inauguration Committee. “I am honored and humbled to have been asked to deliver the message for this service as President Obama and Vice President Biden begin their second term.”

Raised around Kansas City, Hamilton was baptized Catholic, converted to Pentecostalism as a teenager and attended Oral Roberts University, according to The United Methodist Reporter.

He later tired of Pentecostalism’s “black-and-white, very conservative theology,” and joined the United Methodist Church after reading its Book of Discipline - perhaps the most unlikely conversion story since Saint Paul.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s Friday night, I’m on vacation, and I’m trying to decide where to attend church on Sunday morning. I ask Siri on my iPhone, “Find Grace United Methodist Church, Any City, U.S.A.” Before I can even blink, I’m on the website and know that Grace UMC has worship services at 8:00, 9:15 and 10:45 a.m.

Then I click the “I’m New” button where I read a welcome from Pastor Mike Adams and have my most important questions answered before I choose to walk through the door for the first time: “Who are you guys? What’s really important to you? When do you get together? Is there anything for my kids? How do I find you guys? How do I get ahold of you?”

I’m feeling comfortable about what to expect when I arrive, a map is right there on the home page, I like what I read about the church’s ministries, and I already feel connected with the pastor. I’m sold. I’m heading to Grace UMC on Sunday morning.

Every congregation in the United Methodist Church has a new front door. It’s the Internet. People don’t use the Yellow Pages to find a church anymore, nor do they glance at the church ads in Saturday’s newspaper....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am sometimes amazed at how patient the Church has been toward liberalism and its subsequent offspring....Of late, however, we seem to have become theological pacifists, no longer shocked or offended by theological distortions regardless of how bizarre they might be. We calmly, benevolently discuss liberalism or its latter-day derivatives as we would the Sermon on the Mount, not realizing that in liberalism, historic Christianity has been gutted.
And while they mean well, those who reduce the faith to make it more acceptable to the modern mind do the Church no service. Liberalism in its various shades is still a shrunken Christianity—the pathetic result of sinful men and women who, in their quests for intellectual autonomy, would make man the measure of all things. It is a halfway house from faith to unbelief, from Christianity to secularism.
One hears Dorothy Sayers imploring, “You do Christ no honor ‘by watering down his personality’ so he will not offend. If the mystery of the ‘divine drama’ of God enfleshed in Christ shocks and offends believers, ‘let them be offended.’”
As long as our society is free, we will have those who wish to improve upon Christianity by restructuring it. But let’s be sure we know when this is happening.
In the meantime, let us boldly and unapologetically commend God’s revealed Word to our unbelieving world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted December 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lambeth Mission & St Mary's building in Lambeth Road was full on Sunday morning for a service marking the 40th anniversary of Lambeth's Anglican-Methodist ecumenical partnership.

Roderick Wells, the last priest to be attached to the ancient St Mary-at-Lambeth church next to Lambeth Palace, was the preacher. He had first arrived as curate in 1966 but when the rector, Oliver Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, left in 1968 to be dean of Lincoln it was decided to make Roderick priest-in-charge.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2012 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What will be the role of the United States on the global stage in 2062?
India and China will be thriving super nations and leading the world in arts and sciences. People in the United States are already being operated on by Chinese and Indian surgeons. Another nation that is emerging as a surprising international power is Canada. That nation is now exploring its vast natural resources in the north and is in the midst of a renaissance. Some of the best novelists, musicians, poets, artists, now live in Canada. It already has been awarded “best cheese in the world” (“Cinderella cheese”) and the number one place to do business. The role and place of the United States is uncertain. Our future in 2062 may be similar to the position of France and England in 2012 if we continue on the present trajectory.....

Daniel Pink has observed that the well curve has replaced the bell curve....The middle class is declining and the United Methodist Church is a church of the middle. All middles are in trouble. The challenge for the church is to tribalize (particularize) in order to globalize (universalize). We need to “make my parish my world” before we can follow John Wesley in saying, “The world is my parish.” We need churches to love their zip codes and their heritage—I don’t mean love their bishop and polity. I mean churches must know and love people in their community and their “campfire” heritage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Sally Dyck, recently installed as head of the church's Northern Illinois Conference, met face to face with [Michael] Overman regarding his decision to leave. She insisted that the church does not take a "don't ask, don't tell" approach.

"We are saddened to lose a gifted person going toward ministry," she said. "'Don't ask, don't tell' is not the approach taken when referring to the church law, which bars the ordination or appointment of 'self-avowed practicing homosexuals.' The district committee appreciated and respected Michael's honesty about his personal relationship and in turn had to be honest with Michael about the reality that the Board of Ordained Ministry is bound by the current laws in the Book of Discipline.

"This is the tension our denomination continues to struggle with and discerns as the United Methodist Church also acknowledges in the Book of Discipline that all persons are of sacred worth," she added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Lamin] Sanneh acknowledges a debt to the missionary schools that unintentionally introduced him to a desiccated version of Christian faith, and he tells how as an earnest young man he wandered from pastor to pastor, desperately seeking baptism, only to be deflected by missionaries who had compromised mission in their uneasy accommodation to Islamic culture. The story would almost be humorous if it were not so sad. Yet even the account of the missionaries’ rebuff is less painful to read than the account of what he received at the hands of liberal, mainline North American pastors who had long before enmeshed themselves in their culture by reducing their ministry to caregiving rather than conversion. As for many frustrated would-be converts in our age, it was easier for Sanneh to find Christ than for him to find Christian community. Eventually he became a Catholic while at Yale.
--Will Willimon in a review of Lamin Sanneh's new Summoned From the Margin (Eerdmans, 2012), Christian Century, the October 17th, 2012 issue, page 53 (emphasis mine)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesDisciples of ChristMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of ChristOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted October 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The agreement between the Ripon and Leeds Anglican Diocese, which covers a large part of the region, and the Leeds Methodist District will mean more sharing of clergy and services and both churches working together to support their “ministry and mission”.

The Covenant Area Partnership is the first of its kind in the UK and will see greater consultation and co-operation between 85 Anglican parishes and 65 Methodist churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodist

1 Comments
Posted October 8, 2012 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Pr) The Most Reverend Robert Wm. Duncan, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, will visit the Kentucky campus of Asbury Theological Seminary on September 25, 2012. Duncan will speak in chapel and participate in lunch and a talk-back session with students, faculty and administration immediately following chapel.

The Anglican Church in North America unites approximately 100,000 Anglicans in almost 1,000 congregations across the United States and Canada into one Church. Asbury Seminary’s President, Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, said, “We are honored to host Archbishop Duncan on our Kentucky campus. He is an extraordinary Church leader, and his devotion to mission and church planting inspires us.”

In 1972 Duncan was ordained a deacon and then a priest. Early in his ministry, he served the Chapel of the Intercession in New York City, Christ Church in Edinburgh, Scotland and Grace Church in Merchantville, N.J. He was also assistant dean of The General Theological Seminary in New York City, Episcopal chaplain of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and rector of Saint Thomas’s Episcopal Parish in Newark, Del. In 1992, Duncan became canon to the ordinary for Bishop Alden Hathaway in Pittsburgh. In 1995 he was nominated from the floor and elected bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In 2009, he was elected Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and immediately made a call to plant one thousand churches (Anglican 1000) in five years. Duncan was a driving force in the creation of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, a multi-million dollar enterprise for which he continues to serve as president.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 21, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do Charles and John Wesley have to teach Catholics in the United States about the New Evangelization? With the release of Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization (USCCB, 2012) and the Catholic Church’s upcoming synod on the “New Evangelization,” these two ministers seem as relevant as ever to how we think about evangelization in the modern world.

Charles and John Wesley were ordained in eighteenth century England, a time when the sacrament of Holy Communion was often regarded with indifference or neglect. Church historian John Bowmer remarks that the sacraments and Christian life were widely disparaged in this “new age of reason,” and most people in the Church of England aimed for the minimums of religious practice—receiving the Eucharist three times a year and treating it as an historic custom, rather than encounter with the living God. Unsurprisingly, most in the Church of England were not looking outward to form disciples or share the Gospel. In fact, many clergy and laity in the Church of England believed that England’s growing urban masses were beyond influence and simply had “no taste” for Christian liturgy and sacraments. Christianity was on its way to becoming a fruitless cultural niche.

This creeping indifference characterizes many U.S. Catholics today....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistRoman Catholic* TheologySoteriology

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Posted September 6, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The Rev. Eric] Greenwood, rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, says his denomination has its troubles. But it is still a force for good in the world.

“Everybody gets all excited about sex in the church,” he said. “But the good work that gets done in the name of God and our lord Jesus Christ, it will take your breath away.”

Nationwide, the numbers don’t look good for the Episcopal Church and other mainline Protestant denominations, most of which tend to hold more liberal beliefs. From 2000 to 2010, most suffered double-digit percentage declines in membership, leading some to wonder if those denominations can be saved in the future.

But in Nashville, those mainline churches have showed surprising strength and have grown in membership over the past decade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* Theology

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Posted August 21, 2012 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve become so accustomed to the narrative of “mainline decline” that it is difficult to get our minds around a more nuanced version of this story. How do you tell this story?
The ecumenical leaders achieved much more than they and their successors give them credit for. They led millions of American Protestants in directions demanded by the changing circumstances of the times and by their own theological tradition. These ecumenical leaders took a series of risks, asking their constituency to follow them in antiracist, anti-imperialist, feminist and multicultural directions that were understandably resisted by large segments of the white public, especially in the Protestant-intensive southern states.

It is true that the so-called mainstream lost numbers to churches that stood apart from or even opposed these initiatives, and ecumenical leaders simultaneously failed to persuade many of their own progeny that churches remained essential institutions in the advancement of these values.

But the fact remains that the public life of the United States moved farther in the directions advocated in 1960 by the Christian Century than in the directions then advocated by Christianity Today. It might be hyperbolic to say that ecumenists experienced a cultural victory and an organizational defeat, but there is something to that view. Ecumenists yielded much of the symbolic capital of Christianity to evangelicals, which is a significant loss. But ecumenists won much of the U.S. There are trade-offs.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

7 Comments
Posted August 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence, the Episcopal bishop of South Carolina, fears for the future of his church.

One week after the U.S. Episcopal Church overwhelmingly voted to approve a provisional rite for blessing gay unions and the ordination of transgender people, Bishop Lawrence said in an interview with NBC News that his denomination is moving too far out of the mainstream.

"Do I think that these two decisions will cause further decline? I believe they will," Bishop Lawrence said. "I think we've entered into a time of sexual and gender anarchy."

Lawrence's comments come amid a growing debate over the future of so-called mainline Christian churches: Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, some Lutherans and more. These denominations, which are generally more liberal than their evangelical counterparts, have been in decline for decades, a trend some observers attribute to their supposed leftward drift.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterian* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 20, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most of all we have seen a Council of Bishops who have spent their careers as the consummate systemic insiders. For all of the rhetoric of creative leadership, many (if not most of you) have spent years serving on the very committees and boards that have failed to embrace change. The current boards and agencies, which have been largely groups that rubber stamped staff initiatives and General Secretary priorities, have not been held accountable even though it is Council of Bishop members who are, by and large, the presidents of those governing boards. The bishop, more often than not, are a body who are invested in the same political process that got them elected in the first place, a network of relationships that seems unable to truly embrace change.

And we’re supposed to trust you now?

Trust, as I understand it, rarely comes through authority imposed from above, but rather through the experience of one over time. Yes, we respect the office and place ourselves under your authority . . . but trust can only be given when it’s earned, and in far too many cases the expectation of blind obedience to power has ruled the day at the expense of building trust.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted May 21, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

General Conference in Tampa made history as the most expensive ($1,500 per minute!), least productive, most fatuous assemblage in the history of Methodism. Sunday evening’s “A Celebration of Ministry” fiasco was a metaphor for our nearly two weeks at church expense: four hours of belabored supplication by the General Commission on Status and Role of Women, five Ethnic National Plans, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, United Methodist Men, Girl Scouts, Africa University and a number of other agencies I can’t remember. A subtheme of that long night: even though we can’t cite specific fruit, please don’t force us to change or to expend less on ourselves.

Even after suffering this abuse, General Conference succumbed to the agencies’ pleadings. In a post-GC blog, Mike Slaughter (who with Adam Hamilton eloquently—and futilely—warned GC that we must change or face certain death) told the truth: “Our denominational systems continue to resist change by protecting archaic structures. From our seminaries to boards and agencies, institutional preservation was a strong resistant influence throughout GC. Entrenched organizational bureaucracies resist accountability …”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While appealing to some, this “compromise” is ultimately unhelpful. When a matter is pragmatic and little more, compromise can be the right option to take. Part of growing up is realizing that you can’t and don’t need to get your way all the time.

But when the issue is one of principle and when it involves the clear teaching of Scripture, we cannot take the easy way out and claim that we do not know what we believe without injuring our personal integrity and our corporate witness. And to be honest, everyone knows that removing the clear statement we currently have in the Discipline would not resolve the issue. It is only a first step by those whose ultimate intention is to change the church’s position. And that’s hardly a true compromise.

When the “agree-to-disagree compromise” was defeated in Fort Worth and the historic position of the church was reaffirmed, the charge against those who supported the church’s stance was, “You’re dishonest. We are of divided mind. Why won’t you even allow us to state that we differ?”

It’s a good question. And there’s a very good answer. We United Methodists are divided on practically every issue. But in none of our other statements on matters theological, moral, or cultural do we state that we have agreed to disagree.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The structures and processes of the United Methodist Church are self-preserving. The size and frequency of our meetings encourage passivity; our current Book of Discipline and its structures favor institutional stagnation; and, as some discovered in Tampa, our Constitution prohibits most forms of restructuring. The systems that we have created for ministry protect the status quo against revision, and our denomination cannot effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ without the ability to adapt.

This procedural and systemic self-preservation is natural, but it does not differentiate between gratuitous and essential change. Our connection’s ability to protect itself from unnecessary change is valuable, but sometimes adaptation is necessary. In the past five years, the membership in the United States has declined by 4.5 percent; worship attendance has declined by 7.9 percent; and the number of young people being confirmed in the UMC in the United States has declined by 18.44 percent. The need for adaptation is well-established, yet General Conference yielded little change.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

4 Comments
Posted May 8, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodists concluded their General Conference last Friday (May 4) without voting on gay clergy or same-sex marriage, a surprising end to a disappointing week for gay activists.

On Thursday, the nearly 1,000 delegates gathered in Tampa, Fla., soundly rejected two motions that would have amended the United Methodist Church's book of doctrine and rules, which calls the practice of homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching." After those votes, protesters flooded the convention floor, briefly shutting down the conference....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

3 Comments
Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

General Conference 2012 approved a budget of $603.1 million for seven general church funds during the 2013-2016 period; that total is 6.03 percent less than the amount apportioned for the previous four-year period –– the first time the assembly has accepted a lower budget than the amount set for the preceding period.

That sounds like a whopping amount, but local churches should not count on huge savings, since only 2 cents out of every dollar in the collection plates goes to support general church ministries. Also, costs of annual conference operations, clergy pension benefits and inflationary costs are likely to increase local church costs.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
God’s revelation of himself and the deeds he performed are narrated in the Bible, which is the single source of our Christian faith. The so-called Wesleyan quadrilateral is not Wesleyan at all. It ought to be named the Albert Outler quadrilateral, naming as it does the source of our religion as the Bible, reason, tradition, and experience. The latter three are really interpretive tools to help us understand the contents of the Bible. They supply no revelatory material themselves. John Wesley, in the preface to his sermons, said that God gave us a book which provides us with his plan for our salvation. The Bible tells us all we need to know, indeed, can possibly know about how to be saved and win a place in heaven. He, therefore, called himself a man of one book.

The Bible then is God’s gift to us, not a book humans have composed for themselves and given to themselves for their own edification. It is his chart for their happiness and satisfaction here, and their blessedness in heaven. Therefore, to change one jot or one tittle of it, to try to make it conform to some human interest, concern, or cause is to risk damnation. We are to receive it as it is written, with open hearts and eager minds, and through it to be instructed in the ways of God. To attempt to rewrite it or in any way modify it from a racist, feminist, liberationist, liberal, conservative, or any other perspective not its own is the most dangerous of all heresies and an abomination of desolation too awful to conceive.

It is time we heed Saint Augustine’s warning against the juggling and misuse of Scripture to suit our own predisposition. “If you believe what you like in the Gospel and reject what you dislike, it is not the Gospel you believe but yourselves.”

–Bishop William R. Cannon served from 1968 to 1984 as a UM Bishop of the Raleigh, Richmond (Virginia) and Atlanta Areas.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The delegates defeated another compromise proposal by an even wider margin: 61 to 39 percent. The resolution would have acknowledged a "limited understanding" of human sexuality and called on the church to "refrain from judgment regarding homosexual persons and practices until the Spirit leads us to new insight."

The Rev. Steve Wendy of Texas argued that the compromise would cause confusion and lead the church to "stumble in our witness."

"If you look at our largest congregations, and crunch the numbers, they are all reaching young adults successfully," Wendy said. "And, overwhelmingly, they teach and proclaim God's truth without compromise."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After an emotional debate, Methodists at a national legislative meeting Thursday upheld the denomination's policy that same-sex relationships are "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Delegates at the General Conference voted by about 60% to 40% against softening the language on homosexuality in their Book of Discipline, which contains church laws and doctrine. The meeting is held once every four years, which means the policy won't come up for a conference vote again until 2016.

Advocates for gay and lesbian Methodists gathered in the convention hall wearing rainbow stoles and protested the vote by singing and interrupting the meeting. Some cried when the vote tally was announced. Methodist leaders briefly shut down business in response to the protest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

4 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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