How to Divide the United Methodist Church?

People seem to assume that a negotiated, formal division of the United Methodist Church would result in two organizational entities. Why should this be so? Why only two? Why not three? Four? Five? There is more than one fault line in the United Methodist Church.

Into how many fragments should we cut the blanket? Into how many pieces should we slice the pie? And can I make sure that one of the resulting slices looks just like the church I want?

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4 thoughts on “How to Divide the United Methodist Church?”

  1. Mitch I hope all is well with you. You raise good and interesting questions. I have raised the same questions with some of those proposing a split. What happens when an issue comes up you don’t like and are having difficulties resolving?. Are you going to advocate for another split? It appears to me that those that are advocating a split are like the child that brings the football to the game and gets mad and quits the game and takes the ball home. Also, the one thing it seems to me that gets left out of all of these discussions is our first general rule which is: by doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as: …Fighting, quarreling, brawling, brother going to law with brother,…railing for railing. Uncharitable or unprofitable conversation; particularly speaking evil of magistrates or ministers. Doing to others as we would not they should do unto us. Doing what we know is not for the glory of God. We tend to forget this and that Wesley put it first for a reason. First, do no harm. We shouldn’t move forward until we can follow that dictum.

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  2. There seems to be an assumption that those who advocate amicable separation want to fight. I think precisely the opposite is true. Many people are tired of fighting, and wonder if this suggestion might spur those who very strongly want to stay “united” to come up with creative ideas that would help us live up to our name.

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    1. Jamie – I don’t assume that those who advocate amicable separation want to fight. Just the opposite. I think we’re coming apart at the seams and we’re all tired of it.

      This post was not an argument for staying united. Division already exists. Personally, I’m not sure that I want to stay in an organization whose leaders are unwilling to live within the agreed upon framework and whose most senior leaders are unwilling to teach and defend its vision of the Chrisitan life.

      I don’t think, however, that we’ll solve the problem through negotiating an orderly division of the current institution. This post raises one specific obstacle to a negotiated divsion. The task would also entail the creation of at least two new organizations. What do those new organizations look like? Who represents the “traditional” side of the bargaining table and what kind of church do they envision creating? Who gets left out of process altogether?

      The UMC has evolved into many different tribes with many different visions of what the UMC ought to look like. Mabye multiple visions of church identity ought to get a seat at the negotiating table, with the possibility that several separate organizations will result. Once you let the genie of radical reoganization out of the bottle, it can take you anywhere it wants to go.

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