November 8, 2019
Seven United Methodist bishops today issued statement declaring United Methodism to be “broken” and calling for “multiple expressions of Methodism.”
It is time to be honest about our current reality. The events transpiring since the adjournment of the Special Session of General Conference illustrate how deep our division is. Sadly, even greater discord, chaos and fighting loom on the horizon at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis. The recent call and commitment by some for a moratorium of all complaints related to LGBTQ+ clergy and clergy performing same-gender weddings without a call for a moratorium on actions that violate our current Book of Discipline is yet another example of our brokenness. Even with good intentions, actions like these continue to divide.
This is why we recognize our beloved United Methodist Church no longer can continue in our current form of unity. It is time to quit undermining our mission. It is time for the entire church to come together to figure out how to be the people called Methodists in a new way – to seek a new form of unity.
Is God offering a hope-filled future in which there will be multiple expressions of the Methodist witness?
And they answered:
We believe God can use our current brokenness as a springboard to multiply our Wesleyan DNA through different expressions of Methodism that will allow our diversity of theological thought and contextual practice to flourish untethered from conflict. Indeed, God can bless multiple expressions of Methodism in ways that can have a cumulative impact far greater than we can ever have today in our fractured state.
Signers included three retired USA bishops (Lindsey Davis, Robert Hayes & Alfred Gwinn), three active USA bishops (Scott Jones of Houston, Mike Lowery of Central Texas & Mark Webb of Upper New York) and one non-USA bishop (Eduard Khegay of Russia).
Bishop Jones with liberal Michigan Bishop David Jones has advocated a plan calling for a three way division of United Methodism.
The declaration from the seven bishops came as the Wesleyan Covenant Association, meeting in Tulsa, endorsed the Indianapolis Plan, dividing the church into traditionalist and progressive denominations.
Mark Tooley became president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) in 2009. He joined IRD in 1994 to found its United Methodist committee (UMAction). He is also editor of IRD's foreign policy and national security journal, Providence.
Prior to joining the IRD, Mark worked eight years for the Central Intelligence Agency. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and is a native of Arlington, Virginia. A lifelong United Methodist, he has been active in United Methodist renewal since 1988, when he wrote a study about denominational funding of pro-Marxist groups for his local congregation. He attends a United Methodist church in Alexandria, Virginia.
He is the author of Taking Back The United Methodist Church, published in 2008; Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century, published in 2012; and The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War, published in 2015. His articles about the political witness of America's churches have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, First Things, Patheos, World, Christianity Today, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online, Washington Examiner, Human Events, The Washington Times, The Review of Faith and International Affairs, Touchstone, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post, and elsewhere. He is a frequent commentator on radio and television.
Follow Mark on Twitter: @markdtooley