Don't Use the "R" Word in the United Methodist Church!

Don't Use the "R" Word
in the
United Methodist Church!

"They say, 'If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man's, may he return to her again?' Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me," says the LORD. "Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot's forehead; you refuse to be ashamed."

"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down," says the LORD. Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, 'listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.' Therefore hear, you nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words, nor My law, but rejected it."

I listened and heard, but they do not speak aright. No man repented of his wickedness, saying, 'What have I done?' Everyone turned to his own course, as the horse rushes into the battle. "Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times; and the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD. How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood."

Jeremiah 3:1-3; 6:15-19; 8:6-8 NKJV

NOTE: As you read through the following you will encounter certain initials from time to time -- UMC stands for United Methodist Church and UM stands for United Methodist. GC stands for General Conference.

All that is needed now is for an "official" resolution to be passed when the General Conference of the United Methodist Church meets in 2008.

At this point in time (ending of the year 2005) we are in an "unofficial" status so far as the "R" word and the need to avoid usage of that word in all churches which identify as part of the UMC.

What's that? You don't know what the "R" word is? Where in the world have you been since the UMC Judicial Council and the Council of Bishops of the UMC had their meetings in November 2005 with 8.5 earthquake readings shaking the entire denomination as a result of news releases coming forth from those two bodies!

The Council of Bishops is on the cutting edge by choosing to consign the "R" word to the "No Longer Applicable" trash can on the issue of membership in the United Methodist Church! That "R" word is repentance -- a word which basically means that one makes a deliberate choice to turn away from all involvement in sinful practices or the harboring of sinful desires and attitudes or the use of sinful language. The repenting of all known sin also involves the receiving into one's life the Person of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord by faith accompanied by a commitment to be obedient to Him in all realms of human behavior and relationships.

No Longer Applicable Can

Place the "R" word here!

But the "shepherds" of the UMC are now on record by their unanimous response to Judicial Council decision #1032 as clearly suggesting in their reference to a pastor's refusal to receive a practicing homosexual into church membership that repentance is no longer necessary in professing Christianity and becoming a member of the UMC! The bishops were quite obviously upset when one of their own, Charlene Kammerer, along with the members of her executive session, was rebuked for suspending pastor Ed Johnson due to his refusal to receive a practicing homosexual into the membership of his church. The Judicial Council ordered that Ed Johnson be reappointed to a church and also be reimbursed for lost salary dating back to the time of his suspension.

The bishops clearly admit the man in question was a practicing homosexual but insist that he should have been admitted into church membership and that Ed Johnson was the "bad guy" in this situation!

In another statement Jan Huie said that "Homosexuality is not a barrier" when it comes to membership in the United Methodist Church.

Presumably all active bishops circulated their "response" to the Judicial Council within the areas over which they have jurisdiction. At least one bishop also added his personal letter which attempted to justify the bishops' response.

In his letter he speaks much about the grace of God and goes out of the way to make reference to John Wesley and teachings related to the grace of God. However, the bishop failed to make a distinction between those who attend church, become involved, and are genuinely seeking God's grace in a humble spirit of repentance and those who attend church and become involved such as singing in a choir, but are not really seeking God's grace by repenting of their sin!

For instance -- can we say that a person, who is regularly shoplifting merchandise at stores but also attends church and sings in the choir, is seeking God's grace while refusing to repent of stealing? Can we say that a person, who is committing adultery but who attends church and sings in the choir, is seeking God's grace while at the same time is refusing to cease his involvement in adultery?

Strange isn't it that when a UM pastor engages in adultery with a church secretary or a female member of the congregation that the bishops seem to have no objection to a complaint being filed against such a pastor, or that the "offending" pastor is expected to surrender his credentials and be dismissed from the UMC pastoral ministry!

Yet a practicing homosexual ought to be admitted into the membership of the UMC according to all bishops attending the November 2005 meeting of the Council. And this is certainly underscored by Jan Huie's statement, "Homosexuality is not a barrier!"

And added to this is the interesting circumstance involving defrocked elder, Beth Stroud, whose suspension was upheld by the Judicial Council after a lot of "politics" and legal "musical chairs" took place in determining whether a practicing lesbian could hold on to her elder's orders! BUT Beth has been rehired as a "lay minister" in the church where she had been serving as an ordained associate pastor -- talk about a real slap in the face -- no objections forthcoming from the district superintendent responsible for this church or even worse, from the bishop within whose jurisdiction the church is located! Beth "came out" some time back as one living in a lesbian "relationship" with another woman, Chris Page. Now that she is back to "work" at Germantown UMC in the Philadelphia area, it has been disclosed that she and Chris are going to pursue the adoption of a child.

Do you see now why the "R" word no longer has any relevance and no application in the UMC? If a practicing homosexual is not expected to repent in the eyes of the UM bishops, then no one else has to either -- it would not be consistent if we expected an adulterer, or a fornicator, or a person practicing incest or child molestation to repent but to the practicing homosexual or lesbian we say, "God bless you, brother or sister -- with open arms and the hand of fellowship we welcome you into the membership of our church!"

So, what used to be sin no longer is -- and we do not mention the word "repentance" -- this in spite of the fact that the Scriptures contain numerous references on the subject and record experiences of people undergoing repentance from sin.

Therefore there will be an urgent need to delete all mention of repentance in the UMC rituals such as in adult baptism and in the communion service as well as any other references related to doctrine and teachings in the past.

For a review of the Judicial Council and the Council of Bishops "collision" go to The United Methodist Bishops Have Done It.....Again! Use the return feature on your web browser to come back here.

Fallout from this debacle will result in the continuing exodus which has been going on for decades -- we have lost a large number of effective pastors and also a very huge number of active lay persons over the years. Comparing the present number of members to the membership at the time of the Evangelical United Brethren - Methodist merger in 1968 provides a shocking loss of a few million members. Obviously the UMC is not in a state of growth at the present time nor has it been so for many years!

So for you United Methodists, don't use the "R" word from now on -- it does not apply any longer -- we'll just have to wait a bit until it becomes official. So start now to prepare your petitions for the 2008 General Conference and do your part in supporting the UMC bishops and help to make it the "official" stance of the United Methodist Church that repentance is no longer necessary for church membership which means that if I am involved in anything that has been considered wrong morally, ethically, or spiritually in the past, I don't have to worry -- the "R" word does not exist within the UMC, thanks to its episcopal leadership!!

Now for the challenge!

If there are going to be any changes for the better and much needed improvement taking place in the UMC, it will have to come from a "rising up" and loud and clear protests from the laity -- not a whole lot will come from the pastors, except mainly in private -- there is such a thing as retaliation which occurs in the appointment process if a bishop and his/her cabinet feel a pastor has been "out of line" in statements made or has been too "negative" in criticism of the UMC! You can talk about "free expression" all you want, but pastors know there is an invisible line drawn which you don't want to cross -- doing so means your chances of receiving a "better" appointment next time around are not as good at that proverbial snowball has of surviving in a certain place which has extremely high temperatures! Just watch what you say and it helps to "play the game" if you have aspirations to move up the "ecclesiastical ladder!" Again, remember Ed Johnson and his convictions of right and wrong concerning church membership and how he was treated by his bishop and the executive session initially -- thanks to a discerning Judicial Council, Ed was vindicated -- but it doesn't always work out that way!

So you folks in the laity -- you can do such things as the following:

  • you can contact bishops and hold them accountable to the truth of the Scriptures and the doctrines upon which the UMC was originally founded -- you can get their names, addresses (postal & email), and phone & fax numbers at the following link:
    United Methodist Bishops Directory

    Go ahead -- bombard them with protests -- they are not the Pope and they can't excommunicate you or lay on you a "mortal sin" for doing so!

  • you can prepare petitions for the General Conference which will meet in 2008 -- anyone can do this -- a single individual, a group such as a Sunday School Class, men's group, women's group, etc. or an administrative council can submit petitions on various concerns. So flood the GC with your petitions!

  • you can avail yourself of a very powerful weapon and effectively use it when it comes to dealing with the present crisis in the UMC -- the main problem is that we, pastors and lay persons alike, are hesitant to use that weapon -- it is called prayer -- call on God to work in His infinite power to bring about the changes necessary in order that the UMC will be the holy witness it ought to be in sharing the fact that Jesus Christ transforms and delivers us from all sin, sexual and otherwise, and that He alone is the way of salvation and hope for the future in terms of time and eternity! We do have those within the ranks of the UMC who cast doubt on Who Jesus really is, whether He was really born of the virgin Mary, whether He really did the miracles attributed to Him, whether His blood atonement on the cross is for real, whether He was really resurrected from the dead, whether He is really coming back to this world as promised, etc! It is proper to pray that God might remove all the apostates for the health of the UMC just as a surgeon removes a deadly cancerous tumor from a patient's body in order to restore health and extend life to that individual!

    How about this advice from Psalm 141:3-5 -- "Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies. Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him reprove me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked."

    By the way, did you catch the last statement -- against what is one praying? Are there some things happening within the UMC against which one might pray?

A Significant Selah Moment!

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Habakkuk 1:2-2 (NKJV)

Hey! Look at the Number
of Unborn Children Brutally
Mutilated & Murdered in USA

since the USA started "liberating" Iraq
from the brutality of Saddam Hussein!

March 19 2003

Watch this for about 60 to 90 seconds
and see what happens!

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness....

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.

Romans 1:18; Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

December 28, 2005
Clayton D. Harriger
Retired Elder in Full Connection
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy, PA
AND Non-Affiliated registered voter, Cambria Co. PA

For further reference (some United Methodist related, others not) see:
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