Is “Mainstream” Selling Us Downstream?

I’ve been getting their emails and letters almost every day, so it seems.  For in preparation for the General Conference of The United Methodist Church next week in St. Louis, a group advocating for one of the plans being proposed has been more than “methodical” about getting their message out.

The problem is, however, that “Mainstream UMC” seems to have a more casual relationship with truth than I think is merited.  And in terms of respectful dialogue with those who think differently, they’ve exhibited instead a censorious and unkind spirit at best, and a downright slanderous one at worst.

They’ve suggested, for instance, that the advocates of maintaining our current stance on homosexuality have “recreated the climate of 1844” when the Methodist Church split over slavery.  But the traditionalists are not proposing a split at all, only a continuation of what the greater church has repeatedly and increasingly believed to be a faithful response to some of these difficult questions.

They’ve claimed that the Commission on the Way Forward, which created the three plans that will be before the delegates in St. Louis, did not introduce the idea of a gracious exit, but that’s simply untrue.  It was originally in every one of the three plans that the COWF developed until the bishops took it out when they reviewed those plans.

They’ve said that only a “few rogue bishops” hastily wrote the Traditional Plan.  But they neglected to mention that the reason that plan was assembled rather quickly was that the bishops as a group told the Commission not to work on it and then, as the Commission was winding everything up, they changed their minds and reluctantly agreed to include that option after all.

They’ve likewise almost libelously labeled two of our bishops, Scott Jones and Gary Mueller, as “WCA bishops,” referring to the Wesleyan Covenant Association, simply because they accepted the invitation to attend a meeting of that group of United Methodists.  Indeed, in contrast to many of his progressive colleagues, Bishop Jones has gone out of his way to remain neutral and not endorse any of the three plans publicly.

They’ve warned that there’s simply not time to carefully craft any exit plans before 2020, despite the fact that numerous folks have been working on them for more than a year and versions have been available for delegates to read since the early fall. And some even falsely accused Maxie Dunnam of promoting the exit plan so that traditional churches can get money from the denomination on their way out, when the truth is that he did so to help progressive congregations who may not wish to stay if the current standards are maintained.

They’ve misrepresented the One Church Plan as not requiring anyone to change their positions if they chose not to do so, when in reality it will change our denomination’s definition of marriage for everyone.  And should the plan pass, traditional United Methodists will still be forced to pay into an episcopal fund that underwrites openly partnered gay bishops.  What’s more, even many proponents of the One Church Plan have admitted publicly that it’s simply a transitional step towards an eventual mandate for full inclusion by the whole denomination.

Most of all, Mainstream UMC has, in a dazzling display of redirection, argued that traditionalists are simply trying to force the church into schism when in truth it is progressives who have blatantly disobeyed our Discipline that have already done so.  For I have heard of no conservatives who have broken their ordination vows, disobeyed church law, ignored our covenant, or blatantly defied the discernment of the whole church in favor of their personal opinions or beliefs regarding this issue.

It’s one thing to argue a position and try to persuade others to adopt it.  But in misrepresenting the facts so blatantly, and twisting the position of their opponents so maliciously, so-called “Mainstream” proponents of the One Church Plan have plainly turned from progressives into simply pro-aggressives.

And if that sentiment prevails, I have a feeling that the decline in our worship attendance–already almost one million down from just 18 years ago–will only get worse.



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30 Responses to Is “Mainstream” Selling Us Downstream?

  1. I am disheartened, but not surprised with this information. Thank you very much for sharing your insights.

  2. Brandye says:

    As always, you speak truth and understanding. Thank you.

  3. Bill & Pat Hood says:

    Thank you for your faithfulness and willing to share the facts. It seems blatant liberalism is becomes more and more aggressive.
    We appreciate you.

    • Sandy Crow says:

      Very true!

      • Mary Milner says:

        So I am concerned about the pejorative comments about other people’s political views. In the NT we are exhorted again and again to love one another. And seems like to me that God loves liberals as much as he does conservatives. Is it getting us anywhere to use these labels which have acquired negative connotations?

    • Sandy Crow says:

      Very true!

  4. amygyoung says:

    Thank you for sharing the truth, and for all of the work you have put into this issue. We a appreciate your leadership.
    Praying for you, and the conference.

  5. It’s easy to appear to “take the high road” when one’s position is in the majority. But the last time I checked, being in the majority doesn’t necessarily equate to being the truth.

  6. Daniel L. Casselberry says:

    I agree. Our church was already welcoming and loving and accepting. We just do not do gay marriages or ordain practicing professing homoesexuals because we feel it varies from teachings of Christ and scripture. Certain leaders are trying to push changes down our throats. God has already spoken in His word. We are to love the sinner but not condone the sin that applies to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.

  7. David Livingston says:

    From my perspective, the very worst that Mainstream has done is comparable to what UM Action does regularly. Your comment on the “rogue bishops” is a good example. What Mainstream wrote is true. It was hastily written and it was written by a small group of bishops who disagreed with the majority (and who remain unnamed and unaccountable). It is also true that originally the Commission was working on some kind of a traditional plan and were told to stop that work.

    There are two places specifically where I would respectfully disagree with you. First, please remember that no progressive has asked for an exit plan. In fact the most progressive people I’ve talked to have clearly said they plan to stay. I’ve learned in my relationships not to give an unwanted gift. We also know that there are some traditionalists who plan to leave even if the MTP prevails. We know that at least 15 years ago Tom Lambrecht and others discussed the option of a “voluntary departure” of conservative congregations and that one perceived disadvantage to a conservative exit was it “leaves the United Methodist denomination somewhat intact.” That’s a direct quote. From Lambrecht’s 2004 document. Combined, these indisputable facts make me very suspicious of the motives of including an exit plan in the TP.

    Second, as I shared with Bishop Jones, one does not need to use the language “I endorse” to endorse something. Bishop Jones has pinned his video affirming the TP at the top of his Facebook page. He has labeled the CCP as the “true one-church plan.” He has said nothing positive about the OCP. He is completely entitled to his opinion. I don’t begrudge him that at all. It is naïve to pretend like he has been a neutral voice.

  8. Arthur Dan Gleckler says:

    Very disappointed in the tone and content of these comments. The “other side” is all wrong, according to them. No acknowledgement that Reconciling congregations are demonstrating grace and love in the spirit of Christ. Dan Gleckler

    • Keith A. Jenkins says:

      I’m so glad not to be the only progressive reading and commenting on this blog.

      • David Livingston says:

        I posted a comment that for some reason didn’t make it on. Chap is a great person. This post is not the whole story.

      • Keith A. Jenkins says:

        David, I have known Chap for almost 30 years and worked side-by-side with him during some of the darkest days of his early ministry. I agree that “this post is not the whole story,” but it is more than one chapter and seems to have become a dominant theme.

      • Mary Milner says:

        Chap, thanks for your well-written comments on this issue before us. I would like to think that the grace and love from the Holy Spirit will overwhelm us all so that we can treat those among our denomination who have a different view from ourselves with all the loving kindness we can muster. It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative, but it matters if you speak and act kindly or not.

  9. My prayers are with all that gather. May the Holy Spirit comfort, uplift, and guide those in Holy Conference. Remember “God’s Got This.”

  10. Ron Floyd says:

    Chap well stated. We joined our local Methodist Church in the early 90s after both my wife and I had been “raised Baptist”. We liked what the UMC and more importantly our new church had to offer. It is all about God and then your congregation. We have joined and left several local UMC churches while still staying Methodist. We have refrained from joining the rapidly growing non denominational mega like churches because we like the UMC philosophy. However I have become dismayed with the left drift of the UMC as it does not reflect my beliefs. I am more dismayed by people in authority who thumb their noses at our rules because they can’t get then changed through thev “legal” channels. Preparing for something does not mean you endorse something. I speak only for myself and am not a theologian, just an every day sinner who falls short of the glory and asks for foregiveness from God all the time. I pray to God that the outcome glorifies God and ministers to the entire flock. My human belief is that we need to have a God inspired exit plan or legal chaos will reign.

  11. Jim says:

    And they have misdirected and misled the conversation to focus mainly on removing the current language concerning practicing homosexuality while, in reality, they are embracing the LGBTQIA+ community and the varied and expanding relational and sexual orientations dealing under that umbrella (multi-partners, polyamorous relationships, adult insest, even non-practicing pedophiles are now wanting to be under LGBTQIA+ umbrella, and this can go on).

    In the presentations of plams for the Way Forward, there has been no guidance in regards to what relationships and sexual boundaries the UMC (Christians) should have, no leadership from Bishops, and no answers from those promoting the marriages and ordinations of practicing LGBTQIA+ Christians.

    • Keith A. Jenkins says:

      This is a textbook example of the fallacy known as slippery slope: “If we let them marry people of the same sex, next we’ll have sheep as preacher’s wives!”

      This kind of nonsensical thinking cannot go unchallenged, and somebody has to be the one to speak up against it. I hope my comment will pass the moderation process.

  12. Lori L Foreman says:

    Bravo! I could NOT have said it any better! We (my church) will likely be exiting, if not… and they choose any method other than Traditional…I (as a Methodist ) will exit. If people choose to be “Methodists”, they should follow the Discipline, otherwise they should attend a church that reflects their beliefs, or better yet, create their own church!

  13. Rebeca Monto says:

    Thanks Chap, I always enjoy reading your blog although I seldom comment. I am so disappointed when I see what is going on in our church. It really breaks my heart. I also noticed than on Facebook where there was a post about the One Church Plan most of the comments
    seemed to be pro the Traditionalist plan even one from a pastor who was brave enough to say where he stood. I started to reply and the post immediately disappeared. Obviously someone removed it. It seems they did not like what was being said. I am very concerned about the future of our church. We are having a Prayer Vigil coming up. So many people are saddened by what is happening and the decisions they will have to make. May God be in control of this situation. Thanks for always being honest and true to yourself. All the best to you and yours.

  14. James says:

    It’s always been easier to change your “Christianity” to fit the way you want to live, than to change the way you live to fit Christianity…we tend to take the easy way out…change to fit the way of the world.

  15. Mark Fleming says:

    Chap, I have always appreciated your ability to make a statement coherently and with grace. Thank you.

  16. Thank you, Chap Temple, for this excellent, grace-filled, truthful and confirming work.

  17. Gail rupprecht says:

    We found a congregation out side of the umc (in which we actively participated for 50 years) where a humble approach to the scriptures prevails. What a breath of fresh air. We worship the God of the Bible in spirit and in truth. May our God give the repentance to those who are wise in their own eyes.

  18. Georgia Trudeau says:

    God bless you, Reverend Chappell Temple, and those who have the courage to stand up boldly for Methodist Christian values. Biblical integrity, not cultural conformity. Values which are not the antithesis to Biblical values and truth. I am praying for you to be heard, to be hedged in and protected against the radical agitators who would do harm, and that revival would break out in the Methodist Church worldwide.

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