the wake of the California Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex
marriage, more than 80 retired Southern California clergy from the
United Methodist Church are offering to perform same-sex marriages, the
Sacramento Bee reports. The ministers made their
agreement during the annual meeting last weekend for
the California-Nevada Conference of United Methodist Church. Meanwhile, a small United Methodist congregation in Santa Monica,
called the Church at Ocean Park, is hosting a “love celebration” this
Sunday, July 6, for couples of any sexual preference who want to marry.
The United Methodist Book of Discipline—i.e., official church
law—forbids churches and clergy, both active and retired, from
performing same-sex unions. If disciplined, the clergy could be
defrocked. However, retired clergy are much less likely to face church
The California-Pacific Conference of United
Methodism is one of the denomination’s most liberal. It is no surprise, at least to this writer, that it is also one of the fastest
declining regions, having lost about half its members over the last 40
years, while California’s population has boomed. Less than 3 percent
of the United Methodist Church in the U.S. lives in California.
These Methodist clergy are seeking to be progressive and relevant to the culture and the fast-moving changes of California law. They also appear to be "accepting" to some, I am sure. But what they are doing is making the Methodist Church, in California at least, increasingly irrelevant to the purpose that Christ has for his church in the earth. The whole thing is sad beyond words. I pray the Methodist Church, which has officially upheld its own discipline in the past, will now have the courage to apply it to these ministers. I seriously doubt that they will but I am asking God to turn hearts and minds sooner than later.
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In doing research on various grad programs I came across a blurb about GTU offering communication and media courses that were taught by Evangelicals. A member of the GTU community said something to the effect that Evangelicals clearly had media savvy, and somehow connected that to their success in church growth. In response, all I could think is, “are you really that blind.” This thinking essentially chalks response to the Gospel up to rhetorical effectiveness. This is clearly a different conviction than Paul who eschewed “persuasive words of human wisdom” so that the faith of believers would rest upon the Spirit’s power.
I currently teach written communication courses, and I understand the value of rhetorical sensitivity and of being aware of audience when communicating. However, I also clearly understand that substance or content is most critical.
Could it be that the Jesus the liberals preach in their attempts to be relevant to the culture is just a phantasm of cultural construction that bears little connection to the resurrected ascended Christ who provides the only hope for the human condition. This, of course will not even be entertained by those who by into the presuppositions of this world.
I agree with you John, only prayer: the breaking down of strongholds, will convince such clergymen that the real problem is the nature of the Gospel they preach.
I cannot express how deeply this saddens me as a young UM pastor. While I would like to believe that the UMC can keep itself together, this kind of news makes me think there is little option but a parting of ways in the future.