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Bishops push back against recruitment tactics

Courtesy photo: Council of Bishop website.
Courtesy photo: Council of Bishop website.

United Methodist bishops are pushing back against recruitment tactics being used by some supporters of a new traditionalist breakaway denomination.

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Meanwhile, the bishops also express a commitment to ensuring The United Methodist Church will be a denomination where people across the theological spectrum — traditionalists, moderates, progressives as well as people who reject such labels — all feel they have a home.

The bishops share a common message: As churches prayerfully discern where God is calling them, they need to have accurate information.

However, bishops say, that’s not always what churches are getting from some recruiting for the Global Methodist Church, a new traditionalist denomination organized by the Wesleyan Covenant Association that began operations in May.

“These actions, friends, harm The United Methodist Church, your individual church, the United Methodist witness, and frankly the witness of Christians all over the world,” said Louisiana Conference Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. She is the immediate past president of the Council of Bishops.

Harvey also said it is “100% false” that traditionalist United Methodists will no longer have a home in the denomination. “The contributions of traditionalists have been part of our rich history and will continue to shape our future history,” she said.

East Ohio Conference Bishop Tracy C. Malone said some in the Wesleyan Covenant Association are among those spreading the misinformation.

“I encourage you to use extreme caution in engaging information from the WCA and attending any of their recruitment meetings,” she said.

Malone, who is Council of Bishops president-designate, added that it is especially important now, “that we each commit ourselves to embodying John Wesley’s rule of life: Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.”

The Rev. Jay Therrell, Wesleyan Covenant Association president who is now an elder in the Global Methodist Church, told UM News he knows of no one in the leadership of the WCA or the new denomination that has said the doctrinal standards of The United Methodist Church have changed or will change.

“That said, I find the doctrinal standards of The UMC to be like seat belts. You must use them for them to work,” he said. “Certainly, there are many examples with The United Methodist Church of senior leaders choosing to violate the Book of Discipline,” the denomination’s law book.

The United Methodist Church is seeing a splintering after decades of intensifying debate, not over basic Christian tenets found in the Apostles’ Creed but over the status of LGBTQ people in the life of the church.

Not all disaffiliating churches are joining the Global Methodist Church. Some have opted to go independent or join another denomination in the Methodist movement. But the new denomination reports that it is off to a good start.

The various bishops who have issued statements often don’t see eye-to-eye on matters related to biblical interpretation and homosexuality. But they share a commitment to The United Methodist Church.

“The United Methodist church has a BRIGHT FUTURE, for God is at work in ways seen and unseen across our connection,” said Graves in a statement about why he loves being a United Methodist.

“God is using United Methodist churches to proclaim the gospel, feed the hungry, comfort the broken, and resist the evils of this world. God has called us, God has equipped us, and God will carry us forward to reach new people and new generations for Jesus Christ.”

excerpt from a story by Heather Hahn, assistant news editor, UM News.

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