May 23. 2019 by Good News Leading United Methodists to a Faithful Future
Conveners, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, Rev. Junius Dotson, Bishop Mike McKee, Rev. Adam Hamilton
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson (North Georgia), Bishop Mike McKee (North Texas), the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior minister of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, and the Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary of the denomination's Discipleship Ministries, were part of the convening team of a meeting organized to strategize its opposition to the Traditional Plan adopted by the United Methodist Church at the 2019 General Conference.
More than 600 gathered at Hamilton's mega-church in Leawood, Kansas, for the invitation-only gathering called "UMC Next."
"The term resistance is grounded in our baptismal vows," said Dotson, according to a United Methodist News Service report. "We promise to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. So there are many forms of resistance, and people have to decide how they will participate."
Among the stated commitments in the press release of the new group: "We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation." Those gathered also pledged: "We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons...."
After reading the press release of "UMC Next," the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president of Good News, issued the following response:
"The 2019 General Conference was proof that there is an impasse within The United Methodist Church with two irreconcilable viewpoints. Good News is disappointed that it appears from their press release that the institution-minded leadership of 'UMC Next' is determined to double down on the conflict in our church and refuse to acknowledge the decision made by the St. Louis General Conference reaffirming over 45 years of consistent United Methodist teaching.
"It does not seem that resistance and defiance against one's own denomination and against brothers and sisters in Christ are fruitful paths toward maintaining either the unity or integrity of the church. Such a strategy only increases the likelihood of more damaging clashes at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.
"At this point, it seems that traditionalists and conservatives in The United Methodist Church have more in common with the progressive UM Forward group that met May 17-18 in seeking a new way forward toward fresh expressions of Methodism, than we do with the two bishops, an agency head, and tall-steeple pastors leading the moderate 'UMC Next' group.
"We are, and always have been, willing to talk with any conversation partners interested in finding a different way to diffuse the conflict in our church and move forward in a positive and mutually respectful way. We feel certain that not all those present at the 'UMC Next' meeting believe that the best course forward is to continue the battle that was fought and that did so much harm in St. Louis.
"There is a better way and we will gladly work to end the fighting with all who desire to do so. Refighting the same battles will only generate more harm on all sides and further damage the witness of The United Methodist Church. However, we remain committed to upholding the clear teaching of Scripture and will oppose all attempts to lead our church away from faithful obedience to the Word of God, who is our ultimate Judge and the One we seek to please."