A Pastoral Letter on Disaffiliation

Dear Church Family,

With the Church Conference this Sunday, we’re near the end of this season of considering Disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church. It’s been a great deal of data-gathering and dialogue, and our Pisgah leaders deserve so much credit for their hard work. I appreciate your active engagement and hope for a good turnout in the upcoming vote! I also want to take this moment to share with you some final thoughts as your pastor.

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Breakdown: Demolition (8/x)

In the last two posts I began a three-part outline of “How We Got Here” regarding the split in the United Methodist Church. Our core problem is rooted in a very small minority of institutional leaders exerting a massive amount of power over the large majority, as far back as the 1960s. We’ve been tracing how these leaders’ tactics changed over time from Disruption to Division. That brings us to the final and current phase of their strategy: Demolition.

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Breakdown: Division (7/x)

In the previous post I started to trace the history of our UMC conflict going back to roughly 1972. I concluded that, especially at General Conference, we can see an evolution of tactics from many church leaders who are trying to elevate their minority progressive views over the much larger traditional majority of Methodists. We’ve been bearing in mind that human sexuality might be at the center of the disagreement, but it is merely one presenting symptom of more systemic dysfunction in the Church.

As we continue, last time I touched on the initial “Disruption” phase of these leaders’ strategy. Now let’s dig into the second phase.

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Breakdown: Disruption (6/x)

The most common question with our UMC breakdown is: how did it come to this? In the next three posts, we’ll look at the specifics of how we arrived where we are now. I’ll be drawing on my own firsthand experience, the experiences of close friends and family members, and other written accounts.

In many ways, it reads like a history in how the UMC how has handled LGBT identity and human sexuality. But, through and through, the strategies employed by many United Methodist leaders during this season of conflict highlight the broader disagreement and the deeper divide that I believe are the proper bedrock of our church coming apart at the seams.

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Breakdown: Disconnected (3/x)

In the last post, we touched on how the United Methodist Church (UMC) is organized to be Connectional. It works together to share things like leadership, resources, common teaching, and more across every UMC congregation in the world. It’s a way of doing church that carries quite a few strengths.

But last time I also left you with an important question: as nice as it all sounds, what are the weaknesses? How can it go wrong?

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Breakdown: The Connection (2/x)

You could attend a church all your life – never miss a single Sunday and volunteer in every role – and still not see or hear much about how it’s really organized. But a church’s organization can have a huge bearing on its goals/priorities, what it teaches, how it treats people, who leads it, how it uses resources, and so much more.

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