Discernment CalendAR

WEEKLY PRAYER VIGIL

WEDNESDAYS, JULY 13, 2022 - AUGUST 17, 2022

WEST DISTRICT DISCERNMENT DISAFFILIATION MEETING

AUGUST 13, 2022

TOWNHALL MEETING #1

AUGUST 24, 2022

TEACHING GMC/UMC TO MEMBERSHIP

AUGUST 28, 2022

SEPTEMBER 7, 2022

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

TOWNHALL MEETING #2

SEPTEMBER 18, 2022

CHURCH COUNCIL – DISCERNMENT VOTE

SEPTEMBER 19, 2022

CHURCH CONFERENCE VOTE

OCTOBER 16, 2022

SPECIAL CALLED SESSION TEXAS ANNUAL CONFERENCE

DECEMBER 3, 2022

FAQ

The FAQ section is a compilation of information from Trinity on the Hill UMC and Troy UMC, with edits and additions from Lay Leader, Todd Watson and Pastor Rick Sitton.

Link to Christ Church in College Station: https://www.christchurchcs.org/discernment/

  • Although there are many reasons, the most straightforward response is that faithfulness to Christ, the Head of the church, and faithfulness to the historic scriptural doctrines that are the touchstones of Methodism compel us to seek affiliation with a denomination that will be faithful to scripture and abide by its own rules in The Book of Discipline. Since the consecration of Karen Oliveto as the first lesbian bishop in 2016, more and more bishops, boards of ordained ministries and annual conferences in America are refusing to abide by the promises made to uphold the doctrines and discipline of the United Methodist Church. There is schism due to their disobedience.

    Other reasons include:

    • Theological drift and a falling away from sound doctrine – The UMC has become increasingly accepting of clergy, including bishops, who denigrate the authority of Scripture. This has led to a wide variety of heresy in United Methodist pulpits and seminaries concerning core doctrine such as the divinity of Christ, the actual physical resurrection of Jesus, the necessity of Christ’s atoning death on the cross for our sins as the only way of salvation, and even universalism (all ways lead to heaven) is being taught. Many other essentials of the historic Christian faith are no longer being defended as orthodoxy. Many boards of ordained ministry in many conferences are not upholding the standards for ordination set by the church that includes celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage. As a result, these theological disagreements have led to tremendous decline and dysfunction in our denomination.
    • Ongoing conflict over human sexuality in the UMC has cost millions of dollars and distracted the church from its mission of making disciples.
    • Future direction – As many traditionally leaning United Methodist Churches and clergy are choosing to disaffiliate from the denomination, the pool of orthodox pastors will eventually run dry leaving our church vulnerable to theological leadership in conflict with our stated beliefs. Furthermore, when our current bishop retires (January 1, 2023), the next bishop can appoint theologically progressive pastors and remove our current pastors who remain faithful to their vows in defending the faith “once and for all delivered to the saints.”
    • God’s Word is clear about associating with Christians who are rebellious and unrepentant (Romans 1; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3)

  • Our primary reasons for choosing to leave now are as follows:

    • We had hoped the special called 2019 General Conference in St. Louis would settle the conflicts in our denomination. Instead, they’ve only intensified because progressive bishops, pastors and laity across America have acted in defiance and refused to accept the traditional orthodoxy of the United Methodist Church. We hoped that General Conference 2020 would provide a pathway to amicable separation, but the conference has been delayed multiple times and now won’t meet until 2024. Furthermore, the compromise plan for an amicable separation (the Protocol) is now considered “dead” as non-traditionalists have removed their support.
    • Currently, there is a process for disaffiliation in our Book of Discipline (governing policies for the United Methodist Church). This pathway out is only available through the end of 2023. Waiting until General Conference 2024 means that window of opportunity completely closes.  Decisions for disaffiliation by a local church are not approved until the Texas Annual Conference convenes and votes to accept the local church’s vote.  Currently, our conference is set for such a vote on December 3rd.  There is no guarantee that the next bishop will even allow such a vote again.
    • Currently, the financial cost of disaffiliating has been reduced at this moment in time thanks to a majority of traditionalist delegates at our annual conference who voted to apply the pension reserve funds of the annual conference to each local church in order to reduce the pension liability of local churches.  With over 211 churches (out of about 620 in the Texas Annual Conference) already in the discernment process and dozens more being added as we go forward, our annual conference will no longer be a majority of traditionalists.  The rules and cost of disaffiliation can change with a new bishop (starting Jan. 1, 2023).  With an annual conference that will no longer have a majority of traditionalists the cost of disaffiliation will almost assuredly not be less than it is now.
    • By acting now, we feel we are being most responsible with the church’s finances to fulfill our mission for generations to come while also remaining Methodists.  
  • The short answer is, we don’t yet know because the Texas conference is calculating our pension liability amount. When we know, then we will update this section. This pension liability amount is required and is the only amount of money needed to pay since we already pay our apportionments in full annually (also a requirement). Although we do not know the exact costs, we know that currently, the only costs are paying our apportionments in full this year and paying the pension liability. That cost can go up with a new bishop and a new vote at annual conference. 

  • United Methodist Churches only hold their property and assets in trust for the denomination. This means all of our property, all of our buildings and all of endowment funds belong to the denomination. Currently, we may vote to disaffiliate and the trust clause will be waived so that all of our property, all of our buildings, and all of our endowment funds will belong to the local church. The Global Methodist Church does not have this trust clause. If we disaffiliate to join the GMC, the trust clause will finally be broken and the church will be set free. If in the future, the church leaves the GMC, then the church will still have ownership of all of its property and financial assets since there is not a trust clause in the GMC.

  • We are praying as a church from July 13 through August 17 each day, and on Wednesdays at 6 p.m., we are gathering together in our historic sanctuary to pray together. After a season of prayer there will be teaching sessions (August 28 and 31, September 7 and 14). There will be two townhall meetings (August 24 and September 18). Our Church Council voted to be in the formal process approved by the Texas Annual Conference Board of Trustees. The decision concerning disaffiliation will be at a Church Conference (at which all full members may vote) scheduled for October 16th. The disaffiliation will not technically be complete until our Annual Conference votes on December 3, 2022. If approved, then our effective date of leaving the UMC will be December 31, 2022 with our effective date of joining the Global Methodist Church being January 1, 2023. 

  • No.  We have no desire nor intention of being embroiled in a legal battle.  By going through the process of discernment and following the rules of the Board of Trustees of the Texas Annual Conference there is no need for an attorney in order to disaffiliate.  An attorney may be hired in order to assist in creating documents necessary to affiliate with the Global Methodist Church, but those decisions will be made in the future. 

  • Divisions within the UMC are about much more than human sexuality. The primary issue is whether the Bible is true, relevant for our times, and authoritative over our lives and the church. We encourage you to watch these short videos that give a succinct overview about the critical issues at hand and some reasons why the GMC is the best option for us:

  • Human Sexuality – Book of Discipline ¶162.G. “We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as their spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The UMC does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us”. The UMC implores families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. Everyone is welcome to worship and actively participate in the life of our churches. Laypersons may become members and live out their faith through their local church without respect to sexual orientation or practice. Sexual relations are affirmed only within the monogamous, heterosexual marriage and a distinction is drawn between orientation and practice, or behavior. In 1976, ¶613 was added to the Book of Discipline “No board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any ‘gay caucus’ or group or otherwise use of such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality”. The church has also maintained restrictions regarding clergy. In 1984, ¶304.3 was added that “Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the UMC. ¶341.6 was added to the Book of Discipline “Ceremonies that celebrate same-sex unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches”. Some members feel strongly that the church should uphold its current stances regarding gay clergy and marriage. Others strongly advocate for inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in all aspects of life in the church. To accomplish this inclusion, they want all prohibitive language regarding LGBTQIA+ persons abolished entirely from the Book of Discipline.  (From Trinity on the Hill UMC)

  • Yes!  We welcome everyone to worship with us and seek to encourage everyone to a relationship with the Lord that leads to holiness of heart and life. The GMC’s position on human sexuality will remain the same as the UMC’s position since its inception in 1968 (and historically), but it is clear that the majority of United Methodist leadership in America desire and is working toward the day when LGBTQA+ clergy can be ordained and appointed (this is already happening).  Moreover, weddings will be performed in United Methodist churches celebrating the union of one man to another man and one woman to another woman.  The beliefs and doctrines of the GMC are the same beliefs and doctrines in place when you took your membership vows.  Therefore, if you were in agreement when you joined, then you should be in agreement now with the doctrines of the GMC.  

  • The UMC’s theological impasse that has led to schism is rooted in our differing beliefs regarding the authority and inspiration of Scripture. While some will say that the Bible is “The Word of God” they have changed the meaning of “authority and inspiration.” We are now part of a denomination in which terms have been redefined so that it sounds like the same language, but the meaning is different from the historical, orthodox view. In the movie “The Princess Bride”, Indigo Montoya said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Instead of hearing “This is the Word of God” after a scripture reading at worship, some progressives will say “Listen for the Word of God.” Some believe that the spirit has given them a new mysterious revelation. This is a form of the old heresy called Gnosticism in which some early Christians said they had special knowledge. The historic church has believed that the canon of Scripture is closed with the 66 books of a Protestant bible. Contemporary Progressives believe other writings outside of Scripture are equally God’s Word and that the bible is a fallible record of human experiences instead of God’s revelation of His plan of salvation. Progressive clergy and United Methodist seminary professors (supported by your funding) have publicly professed their unbelief in the basic historic creeds universally accepted in the church denying the virgin birth, the physical resurrection of Christ and His second coming. Many progressives no longer believe Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation and have adopted the false teaching of universal salvation (universalism) by saying there are many ways to God. The article below shows a review of the 13 United Methodist seminaries and the falling away from teaching Wesleyan doctrine and sound biblical truth.

    https://juicyecumenism.com/2022/07/12/united-methodist-seminaries-promote-unitarian-universalism/

  • Although there are many reasons, the short answer is that the Global Methodist Church (GMC) represents the most hopeful vision that aligns with our current theological beliefs since the GMC is being formed by traditionally orthodox United Methodist churches. The chart at this link shows a comparison between the GMC and the UMC:


    https://wesleyancovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/A-Comprehensive-Comparison-Chart.pdf


    Our leadership was particularly encouraged that this new denomination (launched on May 1, 2022) takes the best parts of our Methodist heritage, while correcting some of the governance and structural issues that have perpetuated dysfunction in the UMC.

    Although there are many highlights about the GMC, here are some notable ones:

    • Return to accountable discipleship (Wesleyan small groups) which embodied the early Methodist movement leading to revival.
    • Smaller, more fluid structure with an emphasis on the ministry of the local church rather than the expensive bureaucracy of general boards and agencies.
    • No trust clause – We would own our property and assets and, if desired, could leave the GMC at any time with no penalty.
    • Lower apportionments – With a leaner structure, more money can stay with the local church and go directly to mission.
    • No more unaccountable, lifetime bishops – Bishops will serve a defined term and return to ministry or retire.
    • Clergy will adhere to the believes of the church as they vowed. No more guaranteed appointments for clergy regardless of their effectiveness.
    • We will have a seat at the table in the formative years of a new worldwide Methodist movement that we hope bears great fruit for generations to come.

    We encourage everyone to read more about the GMC at www.globalmethodist.org.

  • The short answer is that nothing about our local mission and ministry must change because of joining the GMC.

    • We would have to drop the “United Methodist” name and logo. This church began as The Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1868 which was already a division of the Methodist Church due to slavery.  In 1939, we became First Methodist Church, Bryan until 1968 when there was a union with the Evangelical UNITED Brethren.  If we join the Global Methodist Church, then our name would return to First Methodist Church Bryan (an affiliate of the Global Methodist Church).
    • Local church structure in the GMC is essentially the same and uses the same language we are already familiar with in the UMC. However, there would be more flexibility and independence in the GMC.
    • The GMC has “connectional giving” (called “apportionments” in the UMC) to support our shared ministry beyond the local church. We anticipate that connectional giving to be about 2/3 of our current denominational obligations which would save approximately $30,000.
  • Although several churches disaffiliating from the UMC are choosing independence, our Church Council has always placed a high value on being connected with a denomination for missional reasons, for training and receiving of clergy, for our historic connection and accountability. Becoming independent was never a serious consideration of ours.

  • Some large United Methodist churches have already left and become part of the Free Methodist Church.  Some have become independent.  The GMC fits best with our preferred vision of the future and the DNA of our church. The word "global" may be misunderstood.  The GMC will actually empower the local church and remove much of the bureaucracy the UMC.  The Global Methodist Church seeks to live out the proclamation of John Wesley that “the world is my parish.”  While we will be in connection with Methodist churches around the world, the GMC is a return to the priority on the local church without the bureaucracy of the UMC. 

    Check out this Comparison Chart between the different denominations.

  • The church council members are listening to all voices in the church and will meet on September 19th to decide if our church is ready to call a church conference.  We anticipate that the vote will occur at the end of our annual Church Conference meeting which we have requested to be October 16, 2022.  There is no proxy voting at this meeting.  All full members will resister at the meeting and be given a numbered ballot which will be counted immediately and the results announced. The date and time will be announced at least two weeks prior to that church conference.

  • Once we are affiliated with the GMC, you will not need to take any action to have your membership automatically transferred to our new church. While we certainly hope it is not the case, if you decide to no longer retain your membership with us, our staff and leadership will help you through the transfer process to an area United Methodist or other church.  

  • If our congregation votes to disaffiliate from the UMC, our appointed pastors and church staff would each have to decide their own next steps. No one would be asked to leave. The stated policy of the GMC is to keep the appointed pastors and church together during the transition to the GMC unless either the pastors or church prefer otherwise.  Our clergy and staff are in unity about going to the GMC, thus all of our clergy and staff will remain unless they choose a different path.  If our church remains a UMC, then clergy and staff will also have to make difficult, life-changing choices since the bishop will not likely allow traditionalist pastors to continue to serve a UMC as evidenced by many traditionalist pastors already being removed from their appointments.

     

    Here are some other FAQs from Trinity on the Hill that we may want to incorporate (for example #24): https://www.trinityonthehill.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Denomination-Update_FAQs.pdf.

  • Many people try to label the three choices in political terms as “traditionalists, centrists and progressives.” 

    Traditionalists have a high view of Scripture, its authority and interpretation, uphold that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that ordination standards exclude LGBTQI+ persons. Progressives believe the church must liberalize its sexual ethics, ordination standards and Biblical teachings on marriage so that the church's teaching aligns with the ever-changing culture.

    Centrists are compatible with whatever happens and whatever is taught so that Centrists would align with Progressives.

     

    The bible doesn’t not use political terms like these three categories.  The bible speaks of faithfulness and unfaithfulness.  God expects His church to search the scriptures and know the truth, then be faithful.  The biblical “centrist” is concerned with being in the center of God’s will and God’s Word.  That’s the only “center” that God rewards and considers faithful.  The Holy Spirit will never lead a person to deny biblical truth because the Holy Spirit cannot deny God’s Holy Word.   


    Jesus specifically confronted a church for tolerating sin in their midst. The church in Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-28) had leadership leading them into sin and Jesus sent this message to them: “20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.” The issue of sexual immorality was an issue even in the early church. Jesus not only confronted the sexual immorality, but the failure of the church to confront it. John Wesley said: “What one generation tolerates; the next generation will embrace.” How can a church tolerate what Jesus Himself found incompatible with faithfully following His will and His ways?

  • It has been proven over decades that it is not possible to live together with the deep, theological differences. In the wisdom of Dolly Parton, “A bird and a fish can love each other, but where are they going to live?” Methodists can still have respect and compassion for one another, but we cannot all live in the same house any longer. Separating into two expressions of faith is both a beginning and an end for both Traditionalists and Progressives - an end to conflict and uncertainty, and the beginning of vibrant denominations that can focus time and resources on missions and ministries instead of focusing on the conflicts that divide us. Still, there will be deep grief for all Methodists when separation happens. Rick Warren – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate”.  (From Trinity on the Hill UMC)

  • The Church Council Chairperson, Gregg Barfield, and our Lay Leader, Dr. Todd Watson, intend to keep the congregation in the loop and answer your questions at infofumcbryan@gmail.com

  • As discussed in a prior letter from FUMC Bryan’s Lay Leader, the primary issue for traditional Methodists regards disobedience by many leaders in the UMC of the rules and commandments set forth in the Book of Discipline and the Bible.  Jesus played by the rules.  Otherwise, He would have been a sinner, and we would be without a Savior.  He was righteous and obedient to God’s Word to the point of death.  Here are just a few of the many passages in the Bible about what Jesus and His Apostles said about those who are lawless and ignore God’s commandments:

    Although ecclesiastical disobedience is the primary issue, the sin of homosexuality seems to be the focus because many in the church have been forcing this issue for over 50 years.  Their goal is not only to receive acceptance of sexual immorality, but approval.  Here are just a few of the many passages in the Bible about what Jesus and His Apostles said about sexual immorality:

  • It has been common for many to quote John Wesley to support their opinions. Unfortunately, many of those quotes are taken out of context. John Wesley would most certainly not support or overlook the disobedience that is occurring in the UMC. Here are some of the quotes that have been used:

    • Some have used this quote to suggest that even John Wesley continually misunderstood the Bible: “Therefore, we should not be so dogmatic in stating our interpretations of Scripture: When I was young, I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to man.” This was written in The London Magazine in 1765, starting on page 26, in response to a letter from an atheist, “Philosophaster”, who gave his limited evidence about the cosmos as evidence against God. John Wesley engaged those arguments eventually saying, “Before I conclude, permit me, Sir, to give you one piece of advice. Be not so positive; especially with regard to things which are neither easy nor necessary to be determined. When I was young, I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to man.” His argument was not that his opinions about God’s Word had changed but that he had increasingly humbled himself to understand that all truth was found in God’s Word. Here is the entire letter: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015021277671&view=1up&seq=42&skin=2021. 
    • In this sermon, Wesley also concluded, “For, from hence we may learn, first, that a catholic spirit is not speculative latitudinarianism (refers to a broad-church approach that downplays strict conformity to doctrine, church structure, or liturgy and places higher emphasis on reason, morality, and unity). It is not an indifference to all opinions: this is the spawn of hell, not the offspring of heaven. This unsettledness of thought, this being "driven to and fro, and tossed about with every wind of doctrine," is a great curse, not a blessing, an irreconcilable enemy, not a friend, to true Catholicism. A man of a truly catholic spirit has not now his religion to seek. He is fixed as the sun in his judgement concerning the main branches of Christian doctrine. It is true, he is always ready to hear and weigh whatsoever can be offered against his principles; but as this does not show any wavering in his own mind, so neither does it occasion any. He does not halt between two opinions, nor vainly endeavor to blend them into one. Observe this, you who know not what spirit ye are of: who call yourselves men of a catholic spirit, only because you are of a muddy understanding; because your mind is all in a mist; because you have no settled, consistent principles, but are for jumbling all opinions together. Be convinced, that you have quite missed your way; you know not where you are. You think you are got into the very spirit of Christ; when, in truth, you are nearer the spirit of Antichrist. Go, first, and learn the first elements of the gospel of Christ, and then shall you learn to be of a truly catholic spirit.” You can do here to read the entire sermon in context: http://www.umaffirm.org/cornet/catholic.html.
    • "Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?" This question is proposed by Jehu to Jehonadab in the Bible (2 Kings 10:15). This is quoted several times in the aforementioned sermon.
    • “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” This is an aphorism variously attributed to Augustine, Richard Baxter, and others, and may or may not have been actually said by John Wesley. Regardless, the theology is sound. The question is, “What are the essentials”? Here is additional information: https://wesleyancovenant.org/2021/06/10/7680/.
    • “But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.” Again, we must determine what is the root of Christianity? John Wesley provides the details. Here it is in context: https://unsettledchristianity.com/john-wesley-on-the-character-of-a-methodist-we-think-and-let-think/. The entire sermon can be found here: https://connellumc.org/character-of-a-methodist-by-john-wesley-1742/.
    • Some have used this quote to suggest that even John Wesley continually misunderstood the Bible; therefore, we should not be so dogmatic in stating our interpretations of Scripture: When I was young, I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to man. This was written in The London Magazine in 1765, starting on page 26, in response to a letter from an atheist, “Philosophaster”, who gave his limited evidence about the cosmos as evidence against God. John Wesley engaged those arguments eventually saying, “Before I conclude, permit me, Sir, to give you one piece of advice. Be not so positive; especially with regard to things which are neither easy nor necessary to be determined. When I was young, I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to man.” His argument was not that his opinions about God’s Word had changed but that he had increasingly humbled himself to understand that all truth was found in God’s Word. Here is the entire letter: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015021277671&view=1up&seq=42&skin=2021.
    • Some have used Wesley’s words to argue against separating because in his 1786 sermon “On Schism,” Wesley spoke of church splits in blunt terms. “It is evil in itself,” he preached. “To separate ourselves from a body of living Christian, with whom we were before united, is a grievous breach of the law of love. … It is only when our love grows cold, that we can think of separating from our brethren.” However, in the same sermon, he also argues for when a church separation is not only acceptable but demanded by conscience. “But perhaps such persons will say, ‘We did not do this willingly; we were constrained to separate form that society, because we could not continue therein with a clear conscience; we could not continue without sin. I was not allowed to continue therein with breaking a commandment of God.’ If this was the case, you could not be blamed for separating from that society. Suppose, for instance, you were a member of the Church of Rome, and you could not remain therein without committing idolatry; without worshipping of idols, whether images, or saints and angels; then it would be your bounded duty to leave that community, totally to separate from it. Suppose you could not remain in the Church of England without doing something which the word of God forbids, or omitting something which the word of God positively commands; if this were the case, (but blessed be God it is not,) you ought to separate from the Church of England. I will make the case my own: I am now, and have been from my youth, a member and a Minister of the Church of England: And I have no desire no design to separate from it, till my soul separates from my body. Yet if I was not permitted to remain therein without omitting what God requires me to do, it would then become meet and right, and my bounden duty, to separate form it without delay… In like manner, if I could not continue united to any smaller society, Church, or body of Christians, without committing sin, without lying and hypocrisy, without preaching to others doctrines which I did not myself believe, I should be under an absolute necessity of separating from that society. And in all these cases the sin of separation, with all the evils consequent upon it, would not lie upon it, would not lie upon me, but upon those who constrained me to make that separation, by requiring of me such terms of communion as I could not in conscience comply with. (http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-75-on-schism/

    Here are some additional quotes by John Wesley that are important, but rarely cited in the debate:

    • What one generation tolerates; the next generation will embrace.
    • I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.
    • In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church.
    • Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, Law, and judgment. Preach 90% Law and 10% grace.
  • Absolutely not.  Disaffiliation will not be decided until the members of FUMC Bryan vote at the Church Conference on October 16, 2022.  What denomination we join, if any, will also be decided by the members of FUMC Bryan.  Only members will be allowed to vote and must vote in person at the Church Conference.  Although our Discernment Task Force recommended and our Church Council unanimously voted to enter into a time of discernment about leaving the UMC and affiliating with the GMC, we are trying to do our best to present all sides of the discussion to help our members navigate this difficult decision.  Our goal is to provide pertinent information to the members and hope that they will prayerfully read and consider all of it so that they can make an informed vote at the Church Conference.

     

    Some have made accusations that our church leadership is not providing information about staying in the UMC or that the discernment process is just for show and the decision has already been made to leave and go to the GMC.  Not true!  In early July, our congregation was invited to hear Don House speak to the Koinonia Sunday School class about why we should stay in the UMC.  Dr. House is the lead lay delegate for the Texas Annual Conference (TAC) and the son of the late Rev. Morris House who served FUMC Bryan from 1959-1970.  He presented his arguments for 3 Sundays in a row.  To provide a balanced discussion, Steve May, a long-time lay delegate to TAC, wrote a one-page letter to our congregation stating his reasons for leaving the UMC and joining the GMC.

     

    It is difficult for us to provide reliable guidance on staying within the UMC because it is difficult to predict what the UMC will be like in the future.  Once the traditional churches and their delegates disaffiliate from the UMC (approx. 1/3 are in discernment right now in the TAC), the UMC will go through an undetermined period of adjustment following separation.  If what happened in the Episcopal, Presbyterian (PCUSA), Lutheran (ELCA) and other denominations is any indication, then the UMC will likely lean farther left and exert greater control over individual congregations.  It is actually easier to predict what it will be like if we join the GMC because it will function more like the UMC 50 years ago.  Here is some information that may be helpful: https://peopleneedjesus.net/2021/05/24/two-methodisms-a-comparison-chart/comment-page-1/.

  • You should pray at home every day and fast as you are able.  This is why the Prayer Guide (https://tinyurl.com/jptkssjc) was created and sent to every member of the church.  Prayer is inherently personal and intimate, as a child speaking to their Father.  Followers of Christ should reach out to God in prayer every day.  However, prayer is also corporate where believers come together to petition God and seek His will.  In fact, we are commanded to me together.  Remember the story of Peter in prison where many believers came together in prayer on his behalf (Acts 12:1-8)?  God answered!  So, there is power in praying to God together as a family.  This is a very important decision that we must make.  It is difficult for us to understand everything that is going on, but God understands every detail.  Therefore, we should come together as often as possible to seek His wisdom.

  • Many see the current struggle as a black and white issue between those who refer to themselves as Progressive and those who call themselves Traditionalists. Traditionalists have a high view of Scripture, its authority and interpretation, uphold that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that ordination standards exclude LGBTQI+ persons. Progressives believe the church must liberalize its sexual ethics and ordination standards, and change its biblical teachings on marriage. Progressives are demanding that the UMC must change with the liberal culture.


    A third minority group are those who call themselves Centrists. This is a bit of a misnomer because the name suggests that this group represents those who are in the middle and are not extremists like the other two groups. A more accurate term is Compatibilists. This faction represents a spectrum of beliefs that range from traditional compatibilists to progressive compatibilists.


    Compatibilists (i.e., Centrists) believe that the UMC is a big tent denomination where a variety of viewpoints are expressed, tolerated, and even welcomed. This is a form of religious pluralism (https://www.gotquestions.org/religious-pluralism.html) where truth is relative. Compatibilists have their own beliefs but are tolerant of other’s beliefs, even if they are heretical, in order to maintain unity. They often quote John Wesley to support this viewpoint. “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?”


    Compatibilists, at least traditional compatibilists, believe competing teachings can co-exist in one denomination. Therefore, there is no consensus in the interpretation of Scripture on issues of human sexuality. Centrist pastor, Adam Hamilton stated: “At times, modern knowledge should lead us to change how we read scripture”. They believe that Pastors can make their own decision about doing weddings and individual annual conferences can decide whether to ordain practicing homosexuals. Their hope is to keep the church united around this “third way” or “local option” approach.


    Some Material Taken from Trinity on the Hill UMC