News and Views

Mediation Team offers new proposal to separate UMC

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Below is a press release from the Council of Bishops. Before reading it, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling wants to share these words with you:

Beloved of God,

I had the distinct privilege of joining other committed servants of God in a time of prayer, discernment, negotiation, and visioning for a way to transcend our denominational quagmire. Bishop Yambasu received an inspiration from the Holy Spirit and walked by faith into this process. 

It is not perfect, but nothing ever is. We cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. This work provides a good and sustainable future for the Methodist movement and our Wesleyan heritage. 

Everyone at the table contributed. 
Everyone at the table made compromises to further the negotiations. 
Everyone at the table believes it is time to move forward in love. 

Please read The Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation for yourself.  And then please read it again. 

I am intentionally not providing a synopsis because I believe it is important for every individual invested in our denomination to read it for themselves. 

After you have read it through at least twice, I recommend entering into a time of prayer, reflection, and listening for God’s voice. 

After you have digested and reflected upon the Protocol, please access the FAQ link to gain more information. Also, you may request further clarification from anyone involved in the mediation process. 

The signatories to this Protocol welcome your questions, prayers, and support.

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United Methodist Traditionalists, Centrists, Progressives, & Bishops sign agreement aimed at separation

January 3, 2020

(Washington, D.C.): A diverse group of representatives from United Methodist advocacy groups with contrasting views and bishops from around the world has collaborated on a proposed agreement for the separation of The United Methodist Church (UMC) that has the unanimous support of all the parties involved.

The agreement, the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, was achieved on December 17, 2019 and announced today.

The action comes amid heightened tensions in the church over conflicting views related to human sexuality after the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference failed to resolve differences among church members.

Legislation to implement the Protocol statement – an eight-page document detailing the terms of a split of the 13+ million-member denomination – is expected to come before the United Methodist General Conference for a vote at their legislative meeting in Minneapolis, Minn. in May 2020.

The 16-member group came together as an outgrowth of a consultation initiated by bishops from Central Conferences located outside the United States.  The parties sought assistance from prominent attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who specializes in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Feinberg, who served as Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund along with a number of other complex matters, agreed to provide his services pro bono.

Meeting over several months, the unofficial group reached an agreement by signatories associated with all of the constituencies within the UMC for a mutually supported pathway for separation, bridging differences among other plans to be considered by the General Conference.  “The undersigned propose restructuring The United Methodist Church by separation as the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person,” says the protocol statement.

The document’s signers include representatives from Europe, Africa, the Philippines, and the United States, and include persons representing UMCNext; Mainstream UMC; Uniting Methodists; The Confessing Movement; Good News; The Institute on Religion & Democracy; the Wesleyan Covenant Association; Affirmation; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Reconciling Ministries Network; and the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus; as well as bishops from the United States and across the world.  The representatives have pledged to work together to support the proposal and develop legislation to implement it.

The Protocol anticipates the formation of a new traditionalist Methodist denomination. Once formed, the new church would receive $25 million over the next four years and give up further claim to the UMC’s assets. An additional $2 million would be allocated for potential additional new Methodist denominations which may emerge from the UMC. Acknowledging the historical role of the Methodist movement in systematic racial violence, exploitation and discrimination, the Protocol would allocate $39 million to ensure there is no disruption in supporting ministries for communities historically marginalized by racism.

Under the protocol, conferences and local congregations could vote to separate from The United Methodist Church to affiliate with new Methodist denominations created under the agreement within a certain time frame.  Churches wishing to stay within the UMC would not be required to conduct a vote. Provisions exist for entities that choose to separate to retain their assets and liabilities. All current clergy and lay employees would keep their pensions regardless of the Methodist denomination with which they affiliate.

Under the Protocol, all administrative or judicial processes addressing restrictions in the United Methodist Book of Discipline related to self-avowed practicing homosexuals or same-sex weddings as well as actions to close churches would be held in abeyance until the separation is completed.  The protocol also references a plan which calls for a special general conference of the post-separation United Methodist Church. The purpose of the Special Session would be to create regional conferences, remove the current prohibitions against LGBTQ persons, and to repeal the Traditional Plan.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Bishop John Yambasu (Sierra Leone) stated, “All of us are servants of the church and realize that we are not the primary decision makers on these matters.  Instead, we humbly offer to the delegates of the 2020 General Conference the work which we have accomplished in the hopes that it will help heal the harms and conflicts within the body of Christ and free us to be more effective witnesses to God’s Kingdom.”

The signatories to the Protocol have provided a FAQ document  to provide additional information about the agreement. Comments and questions may be directed to the signatories at .

A live stream event will take place on Monday, January 13th to provide further clarity and explanations of the plan by members of the Mediation Team.

This statement is being released by the Council of Bishops Office on behalf of the Mediation Team members.

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Read the United Methodist News Service story

Responses from various church groups and caucuses are linked, below.

Members of the Mediation Team

  • Bishop Christian Alsted ( ), Nordic-Baltic Episcopal Area
  • Rev. Thomas Berlin ( ), representing UMCNext, Mainstream UMC, Uniting Methodists
  • Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton ( ), New York Episcopal Area
  • Rev. Keith Boyette ( ), representing The Confessing Movement, Good News, IRD/UM Action, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association
  • Bishop Kenneth H. Carter ( ), Florida Episcopal Area
  • Rev. Junius Dotson ( ), representing UMCNext, Mainstream UMC, United Methodists
  • Bishop LaTrelle Easterling ( ), Washington Episcopal Area
  • Rev. Egmedio “Jun” Equila, Jr. ( ), Philippines Central Conference
  • Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey ( ), Louisiana Episcopal Area
  • Bishop Rodolfo Rudy Juan ( ), Davao Episcopal Area, Philippines
  • Janet Lawrence ( ), representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network
  • Rev. David Meredith ( ), representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network, member of UM Queer Clergy Caucus
  • Patricia Miller ( ), representing The Confessing Movement, Good News, IRD/UM Action, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association
  • Dr. Randall Miller ( ), representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network
  • Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer ( ), Ohio West Episcopal Area
  • Bishop John K. Yambasu ( ), Sierra Leone Episcopal Area

For questions or comments, please contact: .

 

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Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

202-748-5172
www.unitedmethodistbishops.org 

 

 Read the response from Reconciling Ministries Network

Comments
Rev Glenn Harris Jan 3, 2020 3:15pm

what a shame, people doing what they please, instead of what bible teaches,, in the bible it talks about the day this would happen, i feel shame of methodist church, what is going on. pleaseing people instead of God.

Philemon Masari Jan 3, 2020 4:40pm

Homosexuality: Who can change the authority of the Bible? Please kindly read the following. Romans:1:26_27,1Corith.6:9,Leviticus 18:22,Leviticus 20:14

Anonymous Jan 3, 2020 5:53pm

Humbug

Farquar44 Jan 3, 2020 8:21pm

You mean they read the same book and got different messages? How could that be?
In fact there are thousands of "sects" because the "book" is a shambles, a mess, and open to any interpretation you care to think up.
This is really a story about the delusional arguing about who has the more "correct" set of delusions.
However, if you are going to use the book to make your list of the "unacceptable".- Include stoning those who mix fabrics, eat shellfish, are not virgins when they wed, etc..
These haters give a pass on all the other "sins" on the book's list, but this one makes them feel yucky - so they kept it
If you're wondering which are the "most real" Christians, look for the ones with their faces twisted in hatred and rage
Churches that discriminate, should lose their tax status

Rev. Franklin Bishop Jan 3, 2020 9:27pm

I am deeply saddend, it is heartbreaking to see the church break. The church where I chose to serve God, and the church that has been a blessing to me for 50 years.

Pip Venn Tillich Jan 4, 2020 12:15am

How did Lot feel about it? 2 Peter 2:7,8

Anonymous Jan 4, 2020 8:37am

Lord have mercy.

EUB Preacher’s Kid Jan 4, 2020 1:48pm

A lot to recommend in this proposal, but I would suggest is a mirror image of the proposal that should be presented for consideration. The majority “traditionalists” who already voted to maintain our Church Discipline should not be the ones to have to leave the church and start over. The onus should be upon the “Progressives” who want to circumvent the majority will already established in Holy Conferencing, and who want to change the Discipline. To those who would argue the traditionalists also want to change the Discipline, this is because the Discipline as it stands gets largely ignored by the progressives.

LSS Jan 4, 2020 2:31pm

The Church is of God and can never be broken. If we believe that God is omniscient and omnipresent then God is already in this ‘quagmire’ before we even discerned there was a quagmire and God will be there at the end of the quagmire and with each of us as we move forward. We leave no room for God to be God when we decide that our interpretation of the Word is the only true and accurate interpretation. May we have grace enough to allow God to be God in the moving and shaping of His church. Not mine. Not yours. His. ‘Have thine own way, Lord’

Ernest Clayton Jan 4, 2020 7:55pm

I am a lost Methodist. I am tired "we" and "they". I want US - a church where ALL are welcome.
With all due respect we do not need all the church hierarchy who is being paid for doing what.
All of us have right to God's love. With right we have responsibilities. We have the 10 "rules". What more do we need.

ken Jan 5, 2020 7:26am

As I understand this "agreement", those that have gone against the book of discipline (non-traditionalist) get to keep all the infrastructure, resources, and the name of the United Methodist Chruch. While those who choose to uphold the book of discipline are asked to leave. This is kind of like giving the robber all the goods and the house they stole from and putting the law abiding home owner in jail.

While it appears there needs to be a split in the church, this is not the right answer for it. Those who don't want to abide by the book of discipline should be the ones struggling to form a new church, not traditionalist.

Lynn Maclary Jan 5, 2020 7:32pm

I fail too understand how 2% of the total population in this country; and how many Christians is that? can cause such a rift in one church. I wish some" serious minds" could enter into this discussion. It is truly time that some prayer and thought be brought to the table. Grow up and get real before you destroy what God has created. (please!)

Lola Jan 5, 2020 10:29pm

We have gone so far wrong in this world until we don't know what right is. We have lost sight of who GOD is. The world has become man directive. Man says what truth is. But HE new this day would come There is only one GOD and one belief knowing that your faith in HIM will direct your heart, soul and mind. Listen to man will send you straight to hell. So who will you stand with man or with GOD?

Phil WGUMC Hanover MD Jan 6, 2020 5:24pm

The Key Elements I received were proposed by "the group". I had to research to find out that it was a Mediation team of Methodists, mediating between Methodists. Apparently we have decided to separate to reconcile our differences. I hope the split will be pro-gay (Modern), no gay (Traditional) or make your choice (Free). They are simple appellations to explain and follow.

Bill Jan 7, 2020 2:00pm

It's certainly no secret that this ongoing struggle isn't just about human sexuality - it's about our understanding of Biblical authority and Wesleyan heritage. For the cause of Christ and His mission, though in the majority, it may be wise for Traditional Conferences, congregations and members to leave and get a fresh start in covenant together - beginning with a revamping of the Book of Discipline and Social Principles that better reflect traditional Biblical understandings and positions in social matters. That's why this is more than a position on human sexuality. Over the decades, many of us feel like our Church has drifted farther and farther from center. Perhaps the Traditional wing of our denomination is getting the opportunity for a "do over" that they feel that would honor God and best reach the world for Jesus. And I bet our Progressive brothers and sisters feel the same way. With Traditionalists gone, they would be free to move in directions they sense best reflects God's will and purposes. In it all, there are no "winners" or "losers" if each one of us - traditionalists, moderates and progressives - are seeking to follow Jesus and be true to His calling upon our lives and Church. The irony of it all is that when we get to heaven, we just might find out that none of us got this right. But, thank God there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! So let's keep our eyes on Jesus - the Author and Finisher of our faith - and stay on mission: making disciples for the transformation of the world no matter where the Holy Spirit is leading us!

Rev Ken Valentine Jan 7, 2020 11:10pm

No reason to spit This comes down to ordination. It is not about marrying people. Anyone can marry anyone. Marriage is not a Sacrament in our Church it is a service of worship. Besides couples are not getting married in Churches everything is about wedding destination places. We have two generations now that not gone to Church. Why would they want to get married in the Church???? It comes down to appointment of pastors to local Church's. The Bishop and cabinet make the appointments with some say from the local Church.. We all are sinners! The prayer of Confession in the service of Worship is hunting to me but true about where we are. I don't know many who have followed the 10 Commandments to the letter ( me included) but what I do know is Jesus told us to "Love God ....and Love our neighbor as our selves ". I pray that this is our United Methodist Church. When we join the Church their are 2 parts. Do you believe in Christ. The second is to join the U.M. Church with your prayers,, presents, gifts, and service? Lets not split but commit ourselves to the Sacrament in our communion service where it says One with Christ, One with each other and One in ministry though out the world. This is our prayer.

Joy Sharp Jan 8, 2020 8:54am

I cannot say it any more clearly than previous commenter, EUB Preachers Kid, so I will just copy and paste it, here, as my opinion. In addition, I think U.S. “Progressives” should consider their own bias in discounting the import of the opinions of the voting majority.

A lot to recommend in this proposal, but I would suggest is a mirror image of the proposal that should be presented for consideration. The majority “traditionalists” who already voted to maintain our Church Discipline should not be the ones to have to leave the church and start over. The onus should be upon the “Progressives” who want to circumvent the majority will already established in Holy Conferencing, and who want to change the Discipline. To those who would argue the traditionalists also want to change the Discipline, this is because the Discipline as it stands gets largely ignored by the progressives.

LS Jan 9, 2020 7:56pm

I agree Traditionalists should stay and Progressives should be the ones to separate, since they are the minority.

SJB Jan 10, 2020 6:32pm

Since having experienced a gay pastor assigned to our struggling church my view is for the Traditionalists to stay and the Progressives should form their own. I am ready to leave as I will not support a church that does not follow God.

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