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.

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Notes for a New Methodism

Rev. Darren Cushman Wood is the senior minister of North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana and is an elder and full member of the Indiana Annual Conference. He is a graduate of the University of Evansville and Union Theological Seminary (New York). Darren was a delegate to the 2004 & 2008 General Conferences and a delegate to the 2000 & 2016 Jurisdictional Conferences. He is the author of "The Secret Transcript of the Council of Bishops" and "Blue Collar Jesus: How Christianity Supports Workers' Rights."

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