The People Called Methodist
"I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out." -– John Wesley
The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
--- Isaiah 24:5 (NKJV)
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.
--- Psalm 119:126-128 (NKJV)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
--- 2 Timothy 4:3,4 (NKJV)
Your Attention Please!
I’m in the "big leagues" now -- no more "minor league" stuff of simply being reported to a DS (where I live now, I live every day with the possibility that some of my enemies will lodge yet another complaint against me with the DS -- they probably have her phone # memorized!)-- nope, some time back I was reported to the GCFA (General Council on Finance & Administration of the UMC) for using the UMC cross and flame symbol in the United Methodist Connection area of my web site. Supposedly GCFA was tipped off by what was described as a "committed and vigilant United Methodist" to use the term employed by a legal assistant who informed me that only official agencies and churches of the UMC are authorized to display the symbol. According to that oft quoted book known as the UMC Book of Discipline, the GCFA has responsibility for supervision of the use of the symbol making sure that only authorized UMC agencies and local UMC churches display the same -- and further, it is GCFA's job to make sure that the cross and flame symbol is in no way altered. You know, sort of like "big brother" watching over the UMC children to make sure that they don't do a naughty when it comes to handling the all hallowed symbol!
Well, well – how fascinating that we are really going by the jot and tittle demands of the UMC Discipline regarding a maverick and his web site where the cross and flame symbol was displayed, but it appears there is more than a bit of hedging and foot dragging on enforcement of the Discipline regarding pastors performing same-sex ceremonies, which is a chargeable offense! --(see Circuit Rider's Cauldron for more about what we may expect on this ‘holy union’ thing)-- and how about churches displaying the symbol which in at least some cases has been altered at certain web sites? Oh, oh -– is this an instance of something called "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel?" Someone made a remark about that sort of thing centuries ago, did He not?
But to show the GCFA and a particular "committed and vigilant United Methodist" that I can be a nice guy at least some of the time and to make them happy (and maybe an employee bonus for once again making sure that the Discipline has been enforced in an area that is SOOOOO critical to the survival of the UMC!), I have removed the cross and flame symbol, replacing it with one that perhaps is more appropriate anyway, considering the present state of affairs within the UMC! Now if I can just locate a fitting theme song to go with it – let’s see now – how does it go – "Dem bones – dem bones – toe bone fastened to the foot bone – foot bone fastened to the ankle bone ..!!" Oooooiee! Still having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have -- eehh eeehh :-))
For some time there were some churches flying an "altered" cross & flame symbol and finally "big brother" caught up with them! These were Albany United Methodist Church (located in CA, not NY)and Bering Memorial United Methodist Church. Bering is now flying the "reconciling" symbol and had a real big day back on August 27, 1999 -- take a look at Enger/Piombino Union 'Ceremony' and see a photo of the bride and bride!?????????????
Still some die hards around -- in our scouting about we found First UMC of San Rafael CA still displaying the pinkie & vine with cross & flame -- just scroll down the page a bit and you will see it under the title, "We are a Reconciling Congregation." And for an enlarged view of it go to Ms. Lisa Murphy's personal page which she calls The United Methodist Church. GCFA, time to end the coffee break! We still need you -- there's work to be done!!
Is the Convention Center in Sacramento a bonafide United Methodist Church? The cross & flame symbol was displayed there on a banner at the big 'ceremony' on January 16, 1999 -- see Cal-Nev Clergy celebrate 'holy union' -- in an enlarged photo the banner with an altered symbol sticks out like a sore thumb -- GCFA, where are you now that we really need you? This can't be defined as a legitimate UM gathering, because what was done there was in violation of the UMC Book of Discipline -- that is, according to the Judicial Council decision of last August regarding clergy performing same-sex ceremonies!
Now let's get down to business -- here is what is to be done by those agencies and local churches in order to "qualify" to display the official cross & flame symbol on their web sites. The registered trademark ® is to be placed on lower right at base of the cross. Permission must be requested from GCFA to display the symbol on a web site and the permission statement must be printed close by the cross & flame symbol. Hey, I’m not kidding - go to Internet Use of Cross & Flame Logo and see for yourself! See, I told you - and this applies all the way from official agencies to local churches. Check Legal Services Dept. to see how their authority in this thing is spelled out. Oh, oh -- a lot of agencies, conferences and local churches are being very naughty on this one -- why even my own W. Pa. Annual Conference is in violation on this! My home district, Johnstown District, is now in partial compliance on this "regulation!" To completely comply, the following statement must also be placed near the symbol when it is displayed on the web site:
"The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church - Legal Department, 1200 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201."
And while Albany UMC did away with their pinkie triangle with vine entwined around the cross & flame, still they are not in conformity according to the protocol requirements for display of the official UMC symbol on web sites -- ooooh, this ought to mean at least 30 dozen Hail Mary's to be uttered for this offence, right?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a very serious chargeable offense, might we say that a pastor doing the same-sex union deal has chalked up a "10"? Now then, failure to follow protocol on displaying the UMC cross & flame symbol on the Internet isn’t quite as serious - probably just a 9 1/4 or a 9 1/2!! If a policeman were writing out tickets for violations on this he would need a truck to carry all his ticket books -- not a pickup, but an 18 wheeler!
Click on Penelope, the letter eating toad, and send a letter to the Legal Services Dept. of GCFA and see what they are doing about all these agencies and churches who have not complied to the requirements for proper display of the symbol, and those who have altered the symbol. Ah, Penelope already has it preaddressed for you - she’s been very well trained!
OK -- what's the big deal on this anyhow? Very simple -- we have another outrageous demonstration of a religious structure riddled with inconsistencies! Not to worry, folks -- if GCFA moves as fast on you cross & flame symbol violaters as some bishops move against pastors committing chargeable offenses you'll be either retired from active duty or in your grave -- more likely the latter!
Hey, pastors -- want to join a very exclusive club? Not all qualify, but some of you may be special enough to get in -- check out Circuit Rider's Book, Magazine, Newspaper & Potpourri Shoppe for all the details -- see if you qualify! Would you believe that already I have received requests from pastors wanting to get on board -- sounds like there are some disgruntled lay persons in other parts of the country besides central Pennsylvania -- ooooo weeeee!
Copyright 1998 - 2005 Clayton D. Harriger