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In recent years, other large, U.S.-based denominations facing similar deep divides related to sexuality became embroiled in ugly lawsuits. These cost millions of dollars, as former fellow church members sued each other over church properties, doing great harm to many and violating clear biblical teachings.
At its upcoming special General Conference session, will the United Methodist Church dare to try a more gracious approach, based on treating those with whom we disagree as we ourselves would want to be treated?
Business - February - UMC - General - Conference
The business before the February 2019 UMC General Conference includes five stand-alone petitions to offer “gracious exits” so that congregations who could not live with the other decisions made could leave our denomination with their property.
While details differ, all would require a congregation to take significant steps before being allowed to leave, and, very importantly, three of these petitions are clear that they would NOT just allow leaving for any reason, but would only apply to narrow circumstances “for reasons of conscience” specifically related to our denomination’s approach to human sexuality after the 2019 General Conference.
Reality - United - Methodist - Leaders - Spectrum
The reality acknowledged by United Methodist leaders across the spectrum is that no matter what happens in St. Louis, some will be upset and leave our denomination. As a delegate, I have received emails from United Methodists in my conference telling me that they will leave if the vote goes one way, and others saying they will leave if the vote goes the other way.
Nothing new that develops between now and February 26 will change the basic fact that there is no possible outcome to this General Conference that is even minimally acceptable to everyone, and so ANY outcome will result in some leaving.
How will we treat those who feel they need to leave?
If we will not adopt any “gracious exit” petitions as a top priority,...
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