As a lifelong Methodist, I have increasing hope.
When I entered full-time ministry amid derision and division, I learned clergy really do not speak the same language in our Texas Annual Conference, and later in our United Methodist denomination as a whole. I found myself somewhat isolated at times as I believe in the miracles of the Old Testament and New Testament. For that, I was labeled a fundamentalist for such beliefs by a member of the Conference board of ordained ministry. Imagine you believe in the Bible and then you were the recipient of smirks and scoffs from clergy peers. It was not the welcome to ministry I was expecting, but when I was appointed to The Woodlands Methodist Church, I found congruence in faith, belief and values with those I serve. I found our church leaders committed to stand for truth and love. They have demonstrated that commitment both publicly and privately and continue to do so today. So, I had hope then, and I am full of hope now.
I am full of hope because we are taking a stand against those who would pursue cultural appropriation rather than Christ. By disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church, we can simply be ourselves: called, transformed, and serving Jesus. Our leadership has taken a very patient, loving stand for truth for the past four decades. But those who have brought us to the point of disaffiliation are not them. Members of the progressive movement within the UMC — those who demand heretical changes to our book of discipline have abandoned reason. We simply cannot work with them. There is no discourse, and worse there is no commitment to shared values. In fact, we share very little of the same values. How can there be a relationship when we do not speak the same language and we do not share each other’s values? Clergy in our Conference have claimed there is no hell and they shed their doubts on their congregants about the resurrection of Christ. Their sermons reek of the latest political talking points more than scriptural precepts. Our doctrine, plainly evident in Scripture, is ignored for a fictional cultural audience. My friends, I am convinced the Gospel, of Jesus Christ is the only power to improve and transform culture not the other way around. But here we are. And I am full of hope.
I am full of hope because, with disaffiliation, we can simply pursue our mission without hindrance. Other Wesleyan-based denominations do not have to put up with inconsistent notions that are politically or culturally driven. They simply do ministry. I am full of hope that will be us in the future connection we have dreamed, planned and established. Other Wesleyan denominations are not forced to draw up a defense for sharing the Gospel. They are not called racists by their own clergy members for having short term mission trips to foreign lands. We need to part ways with those voices and forces. To continue would be duplicitous and compromising to our sacred beliefs.
I would like to share that disaffiliation is not some end to our identity or mission. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is our best opportunity to advance our ministry like no other time before in the history of The Woodlands Methodist Church. It’s our best opportunity to grow and expand into new areas that win people to Jesus Christ, disciple them in faith and help those in need.
Disaffiliation is necessary when our United Methodist denomination is punishing its faithful members for daring to believe the Bible is true. It does not matter that this has happened in other states. It will happen here in the Texas Annual Conference soon enough. And by then it will be too late.
To move forward in our mission, we must part ways. And we will carry on with our identity and mission… with a renewed hope for the future.