Country Music for Troubled United Methodists

When I am under a lot of stress I find myself listening to old country music. Under normal circumstances, I don’t listen to it, but there is something comforting about how it takes me back to my father’s pick-up truck and hauling wood. Catharsis for a refined redneck.

In this season of annual conference elections, I have been drawn to it as I drive to and from the sessions. So much could be said about the Indiana Annual Conference session, and yet so much should not be said. I ought to feel good about the outcome, but I don’t, knowing what lies ahead.

Some form of separation or dissolution must be created lest the 2020 General Conference is worse than St. Louis. Yet, it remains to be crafted. Until then, we must wait for the Spirit.

Here’s my playlist as I ponder and pray:

#1. Kitty Well’s Makin’ Believe:

“Making believe
That I never lost you
But my happy hours
I find are so few

My plans for the future 
Will never come true
Makin’ believe
What else can I do”

#2. Ernest Tubb’s Thanks a Lot:

“Thanks, thanks a lot
I got a broken heart that’s all I got
You made me cry and I cried a lot
I lost your love baby thanks a lot”

#3. Patsy Cline’s If You’ve Got Leavin’ on Your Mind:

“Don’t leave me here, in a world
Filled with dreams that might have been
Hurt me now, get it over
I may learn to love again”

#4. Buck Owen’s  Kickin’ Our Hearts Around (This should be the theme song for the 2020 General Conference!):

“Oh let’s stop kickin’ each others hearts around it’s not the thing to do
Let’s pick them up dust them off and start our love anew
Let’s be fair and let’s don’t dare to try to hurt the other
Let’s stop kickin’ our hearts around and let’s love one another”

#5. Hank Williams, Sr.’s Lost Highway:

“Now boy’s don’t start to ramblin’ round
On this road of sin are you sorrow bound
Take my advice or you’ll curse the day
You started rollin’ down that lost highway”

#6. Ferlin Husky’s Wings of a Dove:

“When troubles surround us
when evils come
The body grows weak (body grows weak)
The spirit grows numb (spirit grows numb)
When these things beset us, 
He doesn’t forget us
He sends down His love (sends down His love)
On the wings of a dove (wings of a dove)”

Ferlin reminds me of the hope that awaits us in Minneapolis. Until then, I’ll turn up the radio in my pick-up and pray real hard.

[For more perspective order my book The Secret Transcript of the Council of Bishops]

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Arbitration for a New Methodism

A key problem for separation in the United Methodist Church is the well-being of the denomination’s assets. For example, there are $420.7 million in assets among the ten general church agencies (the vast majority of which is restricted and the better part of what is left is designated for various purposed by their boards). Below that are a wide variety of annual conference and other assets.

The argument against separation is the threat of a potential tsunami of lawsuits over the distribution of those assets into new denominations. Setting aside the issue of local church assets and the trust clause (which can be addressed with various exit provisions), there are many more assets. The experiences of other churches, such as the Episcopalians, are hailed as a cautionary tale of years of wasted money on legal fees and bitter rancor.

This is a legitimate concern, but it can be prevented.

Any scheme of separation or dissolution could include provisions for mandatory, binding arbitration procedures for determining the future of our assets. Church law can be created so that all disputes are settled out of court through denominational arbitral panels. We should heed Paul’s warning to the Corinthians, “When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints?” (I Cor. 6:1).

I am drawing the concept of arbitration from my experiences with a child with special needs and my work with organized labor and teaching labor studies for Indiana University. In employment law and special education law, there are various mandatory procedures for resolving disputes that avoid lawsuits. For example, workers compensation was created to prevent companies from being bankrupted by lawsuits while compensating injured workers. The concept of collective bargain is designed to channel conflict toward fair and productive ends. In special education, parents go through a procedure of due process rather than filing lawsuits against school corporations. Even Major League Baseball has arbitration.

So, we do not need to reinvent the wheel. The models are out there for creating a process for mandatory, binding arbitration in the transition to the creation of new denominations. We can avoid the time and expense of lawsuits if we are willing to rely upon the Holy Spirit (and the expertise of dedicated lay persons) to give wisdom to the saints.

I do not have a specific proposal for such a process. That work remains to be done in preparation for filing petitions in September. Rather, I offer this as a concept that can be combined with other ideas to create a viable plan for separation/dissolution.

In short, I am calling on everyone—traditionalists, centrists, and progressives—to take literally 1 Corinthians 6, not the line about “sodomites” in verse 9 but the verses before it. Paul admonishes the deeply screwed up congregation in Corinth to settle their disputes in-house. That was a bold statement of trust on Paul’s part because this was the last group of Christians I would have trusted with making any decision! Like us, they were arguing about sex and attacking one another. And yet, Paul believed in the Holy Spirit’s ability to endow these flawed believers with gifts for the wellbeing of the church. I am taking my cue from Paul’s example of pastoral leadership.

Creating a process of arbitration to deal with our assets is one fruitful way all of us can apply the scriptures to our current crisis. And in doing so, God can bring out the better angels among us.

[For those of you who have experience in these areas in your secular work, I invite you to use this post to start a conversation.]

[For more perspective order my book The Secret Transcript of the Council of Bishops]

How to Prepare for Your Annual Conference

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 General Conference, Abingdon Press reissued Francis Asbury’s book The Causes, Evils & Cures of Heart & Church Divisions . It includes headings such as:

  • Pride, the Chief Dividing Distemper
  • Self-Love is Another Dividing Distemper

It was the best SWAG the delegates got.

As we head into our annual conference sessions, Asbury’s prophetic words should guide us.

With the crisis in the denomination, it is very tempting to play the blame game. There is a certain comfort one finds from analyzing the motivations of others and a catharsis in finger pointing.

Blame is a powerful drug because so much of it is true. In the pursuit of their cause, Traditionalists have hurt LGBTQ persons. The actions of General Conference have done grave harm. However, this drug is also a poison of our own making. It is also true that centrists and progressives have sinned in the pursuit of their cause too.

Part of my spiritual preparation for annual conference is changing the question in my head:

The wrong question: What did they do to create this crisis?

The right question: What did I do or fail to do that created this mess?

Confession of one’s sins is tricky, especially if you have been the target of someone else’s sin. I have been sinned against over the years and that makes me defensive. Confession makes us vulnerable at a time when the wounds are still bleeding.

Yet, God is the primary audience for our confessions, not my offenders or myself. Only God can sort out where their sins end and my sins begin. All that messy stuff I need to leave at the foot of the cross.

Keep in mind, confessing your sins may not change your political stance but it does change your relationship with God and how you relate to others. Confession of sin helps clarify your vision and refine your attitude and actions needed for the vision.

Confession of sin is a necessary part of God’s healing process to prepare us for the future. A better future begins with confession, not guilt or blame. Guilt is a lousy motivator; it fuels the blame while at the same time burning you out. Blame keeps our focus on the past; confession enables us to turn to the future. The prayer of confession ends with words of assurance in which true love and liberation can grow.

As you go to annual conference I recommend looking at Asbury’s checklist:

  • Distempers that Divide: Pride, Self-Love, Envy, Passion, Rigidness, Rashness, Wilfullness, Inconstancy, Jealousy, Contention
  • Practices that Divide: Whispering, Needless Disputes, Meddling, Slander, Respect of Persons, Partial Disagreements, Using the Wicked Against the Good, Revenge

If the church’s foundation and renewal is the grace of Jesus Christ, then we can risk confessing our sins to Christ and the church will be better for it.

[For more perspective order my book The Secret Transcript of the Council of Bishops]

What I Saw (and Felt) at UMCNext

I was one of the participants from the Indiana Annual Conference at UMCNext. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the gathering. Only time will tell whether it was a step forward or a side step.

The following are my impressions of what happened and what it might mean as we move toward General Conference.

Let me own my bias: I support plans for the creation of a new denomination that would have a concordat with a traditionalist United Methodist Church or the dissolution of the United Methodist Church into two or three new denominations. I do not support the strategy of staying in the United Methodist Church to force traditionalists to leave through acts of resistance.

THE MEETING

The gathering began in the sanctuary with lengthy introductions by Adam Hamilton and members of the convening team. They acknowledged that no single goal or strategy would come out of this event. Following them was an array of individuals who gave testimonies about the matrix of heterosexism, sexism, and racism before we shared communion. In a word, “Justice” was the theme of the gathering.

For the next day and a half, we were assigned to tables with individuals from different annual conferences. For me, the best part of the meeting was the depth of reflection at our tables. The most frustrating part of the meeting was that we did not have enough time to go further with those conversations.

We affirmed that racism must be dealt with as an essential part of a vision for the future. Too much time was spent talking about different forms of resistance. And typical for United Methodists, there was too much wordsmithing about values instead of strategizing about practical matters.

The heart of the meeting was the consideration of three broad strategies: (1) dissolve the denomination and organize three new denominations; (2) leave and reaffiliate as a new denomination; (3) stay in and resist until traditionalists leave. Members of the convening team gave lengthy introductions to each proposal, outline the pros and cons. I felt that there was a negative bias in the overview of option two. Then the tables discussed them, and we took straw polls.

Each option polled about the same—roughly 60 percent liked each one enough to want to do more work on them. Because the first two options are similar, it boils down to a choice of whether to stay or leave. When that question was posed, the straw poll showed that 57 percent favored some form of leaving or dissolving the denomination.

Wednesday morning, we sat with our annual conference groups. At the Indiana table, there were honest, hard conversations about the struggles, past and present, of being centrist and progressive in our highly conservative conference.

Reflecting the wishes of the body, the convening team announced that we will take a two-pronged approach: Pursue plans for dissolution and resist the Traditional Plan. The convening team summarized four guiding principles. They are fine, but they imply that the only thing we will do is stay in and resist. There was no mention of a two-prong strategy in the written press release. In his clearest statement, Hamilton summarized his position: “Church of the Resurrection is staying to resist as long as possible” for the sake of those churches who are unable or not ready to leave at this time.

There was an inevitable and productive messiness to our time together. Hamilton and the convening team did a yeoman’s job of organizing the diverse group. However, I think they are dominated by a bias toward the option of staying and resisting.

3 CRUCIAL QUESTIONS

The tensions and ambiguities in the gathering point to three crucial questions about tactics, strategy, and vision.

The Tactical Question—How effective is resistance? Acts of resistance are designed to appeal to potential supporters and to shame opponents, but they can quickly backfire if they portray the protestor as obstinate. Sanctions—such as withholding apportionments—are effective if they are targeted and substantial, but usually need a long period of time to build up an accumulative effect. Also, acts of resistance must have a targeted focus. A shotgun approach makes the protestors feel good but never work.

Effectiveness is linked to a goal, but there is a spectrum of four goals coming out of UMCNext: resistance for uniting a centrist-progressive coalition; resistance for persuading undecided congregations and pastors; resistance for leveraging a deal with traditionalists; resistance for changing the denomination. The effectiveness of resistance diminishes quickly as you move across that spectrum.

The Strategic QuestionAt what point does the strategy of resistance work against the strategy of envisioning new denominations? This gets at the reason for resistance. If it is to stay in and take over, then it is directly at odds with the creation of a new denomination. Right now, because the alliance between centrists and progressives is founded on their shared opposition to the Traditional Plan, this contradiction is not felt. But at some point, these two divergent goals will work against each other and the strategy of resistance will interfere with the strategy of visioning.

This issue could resolve itself if a vision of a new denomination is attractive to moderate churches, which would resolve Hamilton’s concern. Ironically, the longer the centrists focus on resistance, the less time we have to create an alternative that will attract undecided congregations. The deadline for General Conference petitions is looming, and the window of opportunity for negotiating a gracious exit is closing. The strategy of stay and resist is a gamble that could lose badly.  

The Visionary Question—What kind of spiritual disposition is needed to receive God’s vision? The gathering concluded with a reaffirmation of baptism and the first baptismal question symbolized the mood of resistance in the meeting: “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?”  This is necessary because the traditionalists advocate a theology of death based on a gendered righteousness. But it only expresses what we are against, not what we are for.

What we need to emphasize going forward is love. If Christ is our center, then love will be our way and love enables us to receive God’s vision for a new denomination. The love of Jesus Christ is the only foundation for a new denomination. It is what will make such a vision attractive to undecided congregations.

This is not to say that we should stop emphasizing justice. As Cornel West said, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” But love is more than resistance, it leads us to liberation in Jesus Christ. This is what Our Movement Forward aspires to in their statement “Loved and Liberated.”

At the same time, Christ enables us to love our enemies. Only by loving them do we keep from carrying the dysfunctions of the United Methodist Church into a new denomination. This is why Kent Millard, President of United Theological Seminary, makes the case for separation.

Love gets us to the other baptismal question: “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races”—and orientations and genders.

Engineering Change at 2020 GC

As we move toward the 2020 General Conference we are facing gridlock. The problem is systemic. The Discipline never envisioned this situation and the Constitution is designed to be a self-perpetuating unity.

Various proposals for restructuring are too complicated and politically unviable. Different scenarios for creating three branches within the current denomination or other such reconfigurations are unlikely to succeed given the overwhelming rejection of the Connectional Conference Plan in St. Louis.

Proposals for separation are also very complicated. A formal division requires constitutional amendments that may be too difficult and take too long to ratify. And it is unclear whether many moderates and progressives are willing to leave, choosing instead to stay in and attempt to retake the denomination.

The biggest problem with separation is that there is currently no new denomination(s) with which moderates and progressives can join. One cannot expect a congregation or annual conference to decide based on such an ambiguous situation.

There are no great options. But can we avoid a worst-case scenario of mass trials, withdrawals, and involuntary leaves of absences?

Any viable solution that comes before General Conference must

  • Be as streamlined as possible to navigate the legislative process and judicial review. The fewer constitutional amendments, the better. It must conform, as much as possible, to current procedures in the Discipline. Legislative simplicity is key.
  • Be a transitional plan. Because there is no existing denomination(s) to which churches and pastors can transfer, there must be a timeline and process that sets the stage for later development. The elements of risk must be reduced while allowing for a period of experimentation.
  • Engender trust on all sides.

A MECHANISM NOT A VISION

The following is NOT a vision for the future but merely the mechanism that could engineer a vision for a way forward.

There are three key places in the Discipline that could be used to avoid further gridlock: provisional annual conferences, covenant/concordats, and federated/union churches. These already existing features of the Discipline could be retooled with modest revisions to engineer transitional changes.

1. Provisional Conferences [¶ 580-583]

The Constitution gives General Conference the authority to “define and fix the powers and duties of” provisional annual conferences (Sec. I. Art. IV, ¶ 11 and Sec. II. Art. IV, ¶ 16). Paragraphs 580-583 describes provisional annual conferences which are created for missional purposes whose limited membership does not qualify them for annual conference status. They are located in jurisdictional and central conferences, which are defined geographically, and thus have geographical features.

The parameters of these provisional annual conferences could be specified by General Conference. There might be progressive annual conferences which are permitted to forego the prohibitions on homosexuality. There may be moderate annual conferences which are organized along the lines of the One Church Plan. If for some reason a moderate-progressive coalition succeeds in overthrowing the Traditional Plan, then such provisional annual conferences could be a vehicle for traditionalists to leave.

Regardless of the specific features, all provisional annual conferences would be temporary. They would exist for only one quadrennium and by 2024 would become a new denomination(s).

Unlike a constitutional amendment, it does not require ratification but only consultation with central conferences and jurisdictional conferences “in which it is geographically located.” This would necessitate consultation with all jurisdictions and central conferences in which they would potentially be present.

The definition of a provisional annual conference will need to be amended to remove the reference to its size. Currently, it defines a provisional annual conference as a body that “because of its limited membership, does not qualify for annual conference status. [¶ 580]” Size and missional aim are the two qualifying features for a conference to have provisional status. If the word “limited” is removed, then the reference to membership need only imply the conference’s missional aim. Currently, self-avowed practicing homosexuals cannot be members of an annual conference. If General Conference removes or modifies this restriction for these provisional conferences, then they would not qualify for “annual conference status” because an annual conference cannot admit such members. At the same time, it would allow for these specialized provisional conferences of all sizes to be created.

There is only one constitutional amendment that may be needed for this plan. Constitutional rules governing the transfer of local churches [¶ 41] would need to add “provisional conferences” after “annual conference” (in two places). The amendment may also need to delete “in which it is geographically located.”

However, depending on how the Judicial Council would see it, this may not be needed because the provisional conference would be geographically located in/adjacent to several annual conferences. It depends on how you define the provisional conferences. If the definitions include geographical boundaries in addition to the abovementioned ideological parameters, then it might not require such a change. (An acceptable practice is that you can add to the Discipline as long as it does not contradict the mandatory requirement.)

The creation of these provisional conferences would allow churches and pastors who are ready to leave to pioneer the creation of a denomination(s) while still being connectional. Throughout the quadrennium local churches could be gradually taken into these conferences. The approval of pastors and churches to join this conference would be intentional and selected based on their capacity to carry out the task.

In short, the creation of provisional annual conferences would create a time of transition for the denomination and local churches to prepare for realignment.

2. Affiliated Autonomous, Covenanting and Concordat Denominations [¶ 570-574]

At the end of the quadrennium, these provisional annual conferences would be transferred into the denomination(s) that they had worked together to form [¶ 572.4]. The 2020 General Conference would create an inter-conference committee for these provisional annual conferences to do this work.

The new denomination(s) would be an affiliated autonomous Methodist church. This would require changing ¶ 570 to remove references to geography. These annual conferences would hold a convention(s) to found the denomination(s) simultaneously with the 2024 General Conference. The conclusion of both conferences would result in the signing of a covenant or a concordat [¶ 573, 574].

Afterward, for a specified time period, additional local churches and pastors would transfer into the new denomination.

Given the non-geographical nature of this new denomination, General Conference would have to amend ¶ 572 to permit the creation of such an affiliated autonomous church. The role of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters [¶ 572.1,2,4; 2201] could be expanded to facilitate this work or a new standing committee would have to be created.

If no agreement is reached, the new denomination could become an autonomous Methodist church [¶ 570.1].

If the provisional annual conferences failed to form a denomination(s), they would be dissolved and their churches and pastors would be absorbed back into the United Methodist Church and subject to its rules.

In short, the creation of covenants/concordats would enable us to be connectional in new ways beyond a single denominational uniformity.

3. Federated/Union Local Churches [¶ 208 (a), (b); 2548]

After the creation of the new denomination(s), local churches that did not make the transition into the provisional annual conferences but find themselves in annual conferences with which they disagree could become federated or union churches. A federated church is a congregation that is “related to two or more denominations, with persons choosing to hold membership in one or the other of the denominations.” [¶ 208 (a)]. A union church is a congregation “with one unified membership roll [that] is related to two or more denominations.” [¶ 208 (b)] Moderate churches that feel affinity with both the United Methodist Church and the new denomination could choose to become a federated or union congregation with both denominations. This would enable a local church to express its diversity within the unity of their congregation. The covenant or concordat guarantees that the different standards of ordination and clergy membership be upheld and would specify the details of such appointments.

The process for deeding property to a federated church is straightforward and streamlined.  It allows the local church to begin the process. There is no need to suspend the trust clause. This would not require an elaborate process, nor would it force annual conferences through a convoluted and contentious process of deciding their denominational affiliation. [¶ 2548]

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

This idea does not answer the question about the future of general church agencies and pensions. Nor does it address the future role of bishops. Those concerns would be addressed by a comprehensive vision. I am not offering a vision, only the mechanisms in the Discipline that could be used for any vision.

Perhaps the biggest legislative limitation may be the size. The Discipline assumes that provisional conferences are created because there are not enough pastors and congregations for such a missional endeavor to constitute an annual conference. However, there are several places in the United States where the majority of churches in an existing annual conference might want to be part of a such a provisional conference. Could an existing annual conference become a provisional annual conference? Practically speaking, what would happen to conservative congregations if a predominantly progressive annual conference sought provisional status? Would such an annual conference feel that “provisional” is a lesser status? If after four years it does not result in the formation of new denominations, does it become the incubator of a segregated denominational structure akin to the Central Jurisdiction?

Before any of these concerns can be addressed, moderates and progressives must make up their minds whether they want to leave. As long as there is a desire to stay in and resist the Traditional Plan, any legislative solution will be bogged down and a smooth transition will fail.

What I am proposing can meet the first two criterion but the last one, trust, is the most important. It remains to be seen whether there will be enough trust in Minneapolis to engineer any change.

For more perspective order my book The Secret Transcript of the Council of Bishops

The Midwives Were United Methodists Too

My colleague Adriane Curtis rightly pointed out that my last post about Moses failed to mention the midwives. Shiphrah and Puah refused to obey the pharaoh’s orders to kill the Hebrew baby boys. They were clever and subversive. They resisted.

Indeed, they are exemplars of resistance for us.

There are two forms of resistance: Protest and non-compliance. Protests are public witnesses that do not violate the Discipline. Non-compliance may not be a public witness but it is a violation of the Discipline.

Resistance, in whatever form, is only an interim ethic, as it was for the midwives.

But I am not sure Mainstream UMC sees it that way. In their April 26 response to the Judicial Council ruling, they declared

“Mainstream UMC is not going anywhere.  We will not be bullied out of our church.  We will not stand idly by while LGBTQ persons and their allies are singled out and harassed in our churches.  We will not allow others to define ministry for 2/3 of the U.S. church.  We are digging in against the Traditional Plan for as long as it takes.”

While I agree that acts of protest and non-compliance are appropriate and necessary, I have to ask: As long as it takes for what?

If the goal is to overturn the Traditional Plan, then resistance is ill-advised. But if the goal is to move toward the creation of a new denomination or denominational structure, then resistance has some merit.

All this passion and activism raises a question: Why resist?

The congregation I serve, North United Methodist, is practicing both kinds of resistance. As I have listened to my lay leaders discern their course of action, here is what I have learned from them.

Do not resist….

  • To change the denomination which has reaffirmed the traditional stance for nearly 50 years.
  • To punish your opponents with sanctions.
  • To prove your righteousness by seeking the spotlight.

Do Resist….

  • To prepare for the creation of a new denomination.
  • To preserve your integrity in a denomination fraught with hypocrisy that enforces a single social principle while ignoring its other social principles.
  • To love your fellow LGBTQ members by protecting them from further harm done by the denomination’s policies and pronouncements.

Yes, we must resist as a positive and loving expression of our baptismal vows, as Natalya Cherry wisely pointed out to me. But beware of the temptations and the unintended consequences that accompany it.

 We must follow the example of the midwives for the time being, but we must also get ready to follow in Moses’ footsteps while the Red Sea is still parted.

Moses the United Methodist

“Resist” is the new buzzword among some moderates and progressives to describe their response to the results of General Conference. This has been the mantra of progressives for years that explained their protests at previous General Conferences. Now, many moderates have joined their righteous indignation.

There is something romantic about it. Being a part of “the Resistance” is cool like Luke Skywalker. It is a Rebel Alliance of moderates and progressives plotting to destroy the Death Star of the Traditional Plan.

I urge my fellow non-traditionalists to take their ques from Exodus rather than George Lucas.

God never told Moses, “Stay in Egypt and form the resistance. Create sleeper cells to overthrow the Pharaoh.” No. God told Moses to get out of Egypt as soon as they had the chance. Pretty soon, the Pharaoh will change his mind and the Red Sea will only stay parted for so long.

Also, I don’t recall Jesus forming a resistance in Gethsemane. He did not tell Peter to keep swinging his sword. He did not hire a team of attorneys to defend him in Pilate’s court. Yes, he did confront the Pharisees and he protested in the Temple. But there is a time for everything, and when it came time to carry the cross he did it without protest and he did not resist when they started pounding the nails.

There is a season for everything, said the Preacher, and the time for protests and resistance is coming to an end. Now is the time to get ready to leave Egypt. Now is the time for progressive United Methodists—and any moderates who want to join them—to leave the United Methodist Church. Let the Traditionalists have it. A denomination that has ratcheted down on its traditional ethics for nearly 50 years is rightly theirs to keep.

Remember the rest of the story. They had a short window to get out of Egypt and they had to move fast. There is a window of opportunity at the next General Conference to make this transition peacefully and to minimize the damage that could be inflicted on all congregations and annual conferences. If we stay in resistance-mode we will lose that opportunity for a truly gracious exit. Don’t waste your energy on perpetual acts of resistance because we will need that good energy to create the future.

Also remember God’s last instructions before they walked out of Egypt: Take as much of the riches of Egypt as you can carry. We must carry into a new Methodism the best of the old United Methodism. This is an opportunity to rectify the long-standing problems of the United Methodist Church while preserving the good things that have been created since 1968.

If you don’t agree with my interpretation of Exodus, then consider the cross. Now is the time for progressives to take up the cross of forming a new Methodist denomination. The temple protest ended a long time ago; now is the time to start carrying our cross to Calvary. Remember, resurrection only comes after the crucifixion.