News and Views

Traditionalists respond to Special Session

Posted by Erik Alsgaard on

By Erik Alsgaard
UMConnection Staff

The Baltimore-Washington Conference is the most diverse conference in United Methodism, in terms of race, gender, age, geography, and theology.

Several people in favor of the Traditional Plan who witnessed the 2019 Special Session offered their thoughts after it was approved on Feb. 26. That plan, along with a few other petitions, is now in the hands of the church’s Judicial Council — similar to the Supreme Court — for rulings on the constitutionality of the legislation (see story, p. 1).

“By its actions, the UMC prioritized biblical authority and covenantal accountability as critical to our life as a United Methodist Church,” wrote the Rev. Rudy Bropleh, lead pastor of Asbury UMC in Shepherdstown, W.Va. “(At Asbury), it means that we will not be known for what we’re against, but what we’re for. And we’re for loving all people, receiving all people, and serving all people. We will strive to do no harm to anybody, but try to do good to everybody.

"At Asbury," he continued, "we don’t check human sexuality at the door; we never have and we never will. We don’t discriminate against anyone. Instead, our goal is to be in relationship with all people.” 

The Rev. Heath Wilson, pastor at Tom’s Creek UMC in Emmitsburg, said he told his congregation on March 3 that they were open and welcoming to all.

“We all come with some brokenness and we all come with some holiness and all of us come in need of Christ,” he said. “And everyone who comes on a Communion Sunday is invited to the Table to receive.  You are invited to the table … no matter who you love, you are invited to the Table even if you are not sure you trust Jesus yet, you are invited to the Table if you are filled with joy and you are invited to the Table if you are struggling with depression, you are invited to the Table if you never drink a drop of alcohol, you are invited to the Table if you are struggling with addictions.  You are invited to worship, you are invited to commune, you are invited to be part of something greater, no matter what! So, let’s journey together.”

The Rev. Travis Knoll, who pastors Hunts Memorial UMC in Towson, shared a brief outline of his sermon on March 3. In it, he said that Christians often get it wrong in that Jesus didn’t say, “come, let’s discuss truth.” Instead, it’s “come, follow me.”

“In other words, it was an invitation back into relationship with God through Christ ('if you have seen me, you have seen the father') at the cost of abandoning our own claims to godliness and understanding. It isn't 'blind faith;' it is instead an exchange — we give up pretending that we are God in order to have an actual relationship with the real God...

“I love the church,” he wrote, “but I think that we are often in the place of telling God what is good and what is evil. That is backward. God is the one who decides what is good and what is not. That is why I think that the church cannot do as we might wish; we are not God.”

The Rev. Ray McDonald, pastor at Laurel UMC, said that he would say to his congregation that there are well-intended Christian brothers and sisters on both sides of the divide.

“There is no room for rejoicing when part of our body is mourning,” he said. “We need to mourn with those who mourn. We have not settled much while we are still so divided. We will begin to pray for #GC2020. We will pray for the global UMC — praying for those on both sides of this divide.

“I will remind them that at First Church, we love every one and everyone is welcome.”


Rev. Julie Wilson Mar 13, 2019 3:36pm

I want to set the record straight. While Rev. Heath Wilson has members who supported the traditional plan and Tom’s Creek UMC is a predominately conservative church, he did NOT support the traditional plan.