As of May 1, the United Methodist Church is officially in schism.
Actually, the church has been far from united for a long time. Just how fragmented it is will take some time to learn.
May 1 was the official start date of the Global Methodist Church, the dream of a break-away segment of the church.
Over the next couple of years, individual churches, and perhaps even whole annual conferences, will align either with the GMC or remain with the UMC.
The GMC will be the “traditional” church – that is, the body of believers who are staunchly opposed to homosexuality. The UMC will continue to be the big tent church, welcoming all people of varying persuasions. So some tension over homosexuality will remain.
Apart, the two churches will be considerably weaker than they were together. But at least they may not be ripping into each other all the time.
Dissidents within the UMC have spent many years looking for a decisive dividing issue. They finally settled on homosexuality. They claim it’s a matter of scriptural integrity. They say progressives have a weak doctrine of biblical authority. Progressives say no, it’s a matter of biblical interpretation, not biblical authority.
I say it goes back to the Civil War. It’s a matter of Confederate culture versus Union culture. Morality and questions of biblical authority or interpretation are secondary. They’re just fancy window dressing. The real issue is that in the Confederacy, you just don’t do unseemly things like that. (Or if you do, you sure don’t talk about it.)
The schism represents a win for the Institute for Religion and Democracy. It calls itself a conservative group fighting for scriptural integrity. I consider it a right-wing hate group working to destroy all semblance of faithful Christianity in America.
IRD operatives will be hanging around the UMC trying to break it apart even more. These folks need to be outed and encouraged to spread their evil virus elsewhere.
If you want more even-handed commentary on these issues, I suggest you check out the blog of David Livingston, pastor of Old Mission UMC in Fairway. He’s done an especially good job of reviewing the proposed Book of Discipline of the GMC. Read him at http://revliv1.blogspot.com/.
I will not mourn the loss of the schism’s leaders. I will mourn the spiritual well-being of the many good people they have lied to and manipulated, and the authentic witness of Christ that has been diminished by this vile episode in church history.