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Archive for April, 2008

Minority Report sans Tom Cruise

April 30, 2008 3 comments

I don’t understand the whole majority and minority report thing yet but what I do know is that this might actually become the new language on Human Sexuality in the Social Principles. Someone smarter than me will have to explain it to me but there is a very good chance that before dinner the General Conference voted to make this the new ¶161G in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. If that’s the case, I’m honestly astonished that it passed given that it strengthens the language concerning homosexuality.

G) Human Sexuality-We affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We call everyone to responsible stewardship of this sacred gift.

Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. We deplore all forms of the commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children and for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for abused children. All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence. The Church should support the family in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth and adults.

We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All need the ministry of the church in our struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons

Update: This guy says it’s going into the Discipline.  Here’s what the current Discipline says:

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Sacramental Authority of Deacons?

April 30, 2008 7 comments

The United Methodists in Arkansas received a very nice report from General Conference by Perkins professor and Arkansas native Beka Miles through our Conference Communications team. Here’s a paragraph from the middle of that message:

I think tomorrow we’ll be talking about homosexuality, membership requirements, and sacramental authority for deacons – among other things. I expect that we’ll have a protest of some kind.

Seasoned United Methodists probably looked at those first two issues and thought, “Of course.” What stood out to me was the issue of the “sacramental authority of deacons.” I’ve not seen nor heard anything about the possibility of changes regarding ordination and sacramental authority. Can some of you Methobloggers shed some light on this for me?

My first question is, if we give sacramental authority to deacons, what will that do to the itinerancy?

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The Seoul of Lenny

Just to take a break from General Conference reporting, I decided to take a look at a blog written by a friend of mine, Lenny Luchetti. Lenny is a Beeson Pastor which is a doctoral ministry program at our alma mater. One of the great things about being a Beeson Pastor is that they get to take trips around the world. Their most recent trip was to South Korea and it looks to have been a great experience.

I’ll admit, I’ve always felt a bit ashamed of myself when I read about the spiritual disciplines of our Korean brethren. One of the things Lenny wrote resonated with me:

While I know many faithful American Christians, most of us have a lot to learn about faithful commitment from our Korean brothers and sisters. Our mouths often speak louder than our actions, so that our profession of Jesus as Lord is not backed up by the practices of prayer, Bible study or tithing. Korean Christians, on the other hand, don’t say much with their mouths, but their actions spoke to us quite loudly.

I agree. We American Christians tend to puff a lot of hot air out there about Jesus but we really don’t back it up. Especially pastors. Maybe this is a segue into a future post, but some of our lax disciplinary practices are reflective of our leadership. No wonder pastoral authority is often challenged.

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General Conference Chatter

A couple of days ago I e-mailed a General Conference alternate, John Miles II, and asked him to share with me what he’s seeing and hearing. In a message back to me today John made this observation:

Things are going well the only problem will be the membership issue. There is a lot of energy around limiting pastoral authority.

On my old blog, I wrote a fairly long post about the Judicial Council decision a couple of years ago concerning pastoral authority (I’ll leave that post in the “More” section if you’re interested). I realize most of the rhetoric will center around the homosexuality issue — if the church gives too much authority to the pastor then they can start excluding homosexuals from church membership. Frankly, I think that’s a tiny blip on the radar for most pastors. It’s really a non-issue as far as I’m concerned.

What does concern me is this hypothetical: This afternoon I visited with a woman about church membership. We talked about faith and the four things we commit to when we become members of a United Methodist Church – prayers, presence, gifts, and service. What if she had said to me, “Pastor, I like coming here but I don’t believe in Jesus. I won’t recite the creeds and I’ll ignore every appeal you make to Scripture as an authority in my life.” As the pastor, I should be able to respond, “I thank you for your time, but church membership is not something we take lightly and we believe that faith in Christ is central to our participation in the Body of Christ.”

I don’t know what General Conference is going to decide on this issue, but weakening our role in determining a person’s readiness for church membership seems to be little more than a desperate attempt to inflate our sagging numbers or deal with the unfounded fear that pastors will go on a homosexual member witch hunt.

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A Must Read

I’ve been following Michael Spencer (AKA The Internet Monk) in more ways than one since he started his website shortly after the 2000 Presidential election. I’ve read everyone of his essays and blog posts and listened to every podcast he’s produced. There are many that have affected me as a person such as Running Wounded which I link to every year on my anniversary.

I consider his latest post to be probably the most significant piece of his that I have read.

Sure, I might just be in the emotional state to think this is the case and it’s only been up for a few hours but if you’ll read the comments you’ll find that I’m not alone in my thinking. I may be accused of butt-kissing and fanboyism by a certain segment of blog readers, but I really want those who read and link to my blog to read this post. Do it.

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General Conference 2008

Today begins the first full day of legislation within the United Methodist Church’s General Conference. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but there’s not a lot that interests me in this General Conference. I’d be glad to hear from other United Methodists about what excites or concerns them this time around. I think this one is a little more subdued than ones in the past.

If you’d like to keep up with General Conference 2008, here is the link to the website. Hopefully there will be some realtime updates and you can check back to see what is going on. I’ll check in periodically and update this blog with the things that I find interesting.

6:28 P.M.

If I were going to do a caption contest á la John the Methodist, I’d caption this “Bishops ask the age old question, ‘Who let the dogs out?’.” 

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The Consumer Church

April 21, 2008 3 comments

I’m not going to comment on this at the moment – I’d rather sit and think about it for a while. Join me if you are interested. I think this fits with what Justin and I talked about this afternoon.

“Given the conditions prevailing in our culture, this (consumer church) is the best and most effective way that has ever been devised for gathering large and prosperous congregations. Americans lead the world in showing how to do it. There is only one thing wrong: this is not the way in which God brings us into conformity with the life of Jesus and sets us on the way of Jesus’ salvation…The cultivation of consumer spirituality is the antithesis of a sacrificial, ‘deny yourself’ congregation. A consumer church is an antichrist church.” -Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way

What do you think?

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

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