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Thoughts on the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation

Thoughts on the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation

By now most people have heard about the proposal coming from leaders in the United Methodist Church regarding the separation of the denomination over issues of homosexuality. It is being called the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation. It is being heralded as a great compromise for an impossible situation. But I wanted to give a few thoughts on it.

First, why is it that those who are staying true to the teaching of Scripture and the United Methodist Church, which still holds homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, are the ones who are being forced out? Why should those who do not want to follow Scripture and defy the church the ones that get to keep the church? I’ve read articles about this very thing and none of them hold any logic that falls within the realm of reality.

Second, why are we earmarking so much money for social justice issues in this proposal? I have a real problem with the idea of reparations and that is exactly what this proposal includes, to the tune of $39 million dollars. This money is to support communities “historically marginalized by racism.”

Third, for churches who just want out of anything to do with United Methodist this plan is a non-starter. Yes there is a traditionalist denomination that would be started. But for those who have issues other than just human sexuality with the church this does not help us. If we wanted to join a different denomination, or just be independent altogether, we must go through the same exit plan that there is now and must obtain the approval of our annual conference. This, as every other plan, leaves the local church virtually powerless.

On the other hand, the plan is not finalized. It will be debated, discussed, and amended. So there is hope that the plan can be improved to help “the little church” that just wants a clear-cut exit. Only time will tell.

A Gracious Exit Plan

A Gracious Exit Plan

Next weekend the Special Session of the General Conference will begin for the United Methodist Church. There has been a lot said about the One Church Plan, the Traditional Plan, and the Connectional Conference plan. But there has not been much discussion about what happens in the event of a church split.

Currently, the Book of Discipline, the lawbook for the denomination, has something called the Trust Clause. You may be wondering what that means exactly. Briefly, the trust clause says that even though the local church holds the deed to the property the church is on and the building itself, it is held in trust for the United Methodist Church Denomination. Now, what does that mean? Basically, if a church leaves the denomination, the denomination keeps the property. The local church loses everything.

I am sure that there were good intentions when this practice began, but today it seems that it could be used as a weapon against local churches. This is especially true in a time when the church is poised to make a decision that could say we no longer believe the Bible at all on human sexuality, marriage, and the qualifications of ordination. For that matter, it is a vote that says the church may no longer believe what the Bible says about sin in general.

There have been petitions added to either suspend or do away with, the trust clause during this time of uncertainty on the way forward. There are rumors that this type of plan will be the only thing to pass during the General Conference next week.

In my opinion, this needs to happen regardless of the voted plan. The United Methodist Church is increasingly abandoning the teachings of Scripture and I am sure there are probably many local churches that would pull out if they could without the legal implications of the trust clause.