Circuit Rider's Bare Knuckle Arena

Circuit Rider's Bare Knuckle Arena

Music Title: This Magic Moment

The Arena Index

Are you sure you really want to come in here? The Circuit Rider is really taking off the gloves now! I can see why he has given this place the name that he has -- but again, I think he still holds me accountable for causing problems to which he refers at some points below. All I can say is that from this point on you travel at your own risk! Ah, we want to avoid law suits, so please fasten your seat belt and put on your helmet and armored vest!

Just Wondering Department

The tobacco industry has really been hammered with billions of dollars involved as a pay out for its part in producing a product that has caused "damage" to people -- El Presidente was one of the leaders in this crusade along with assorted politicians and others. Why not a similar crusade against the alcoholic beverage industry which has made a significant contribution damage-wise to our society over the years???????? Could one reason be that too many of those who could influence a similar result, as in the case of the tobacco industry, have to have their daily intake of products produced by the alcoholic beverage industry?

Is there a problem with understanding "connection?"

Some time ago the U. M. Reporter suggested in an editorial that there are those persons who do not understand the meaning of "connection" in the U.M. connectional system. It seemed to be directed to those who leave the denomination or choose to withhold funds etc. Following is Circuit Rider's response to that editorial.

U.M. Reporter

In reference to your editorial, "The True Meaning of 'Connection'", why is it that the laity are the people that are mainly labeled as the ignorant bad guys when it comes to discussing the connectional system?

Has it ever dawned on you that just maybe they understand it better than they are given credit for and that they have thought this through clearly and have come to the conclusion that the "infection within the connection" warrants the actions they are taking such as leaving the denomination or withholding funds?

A chain is series of connected links, but if some are defective in terms of impurities and weakened alloys, you have a chain that is ineffective and a disgrace to the other chains that are made up totally of consistent high strength pure steel!

An automobile is a machine made up of connected components, but if some are defective and/or corrupted, you have a fouled up automobile that earns a reputation of being known as a "lemon!"

It appears also that you like to quote John Wesley in a way as to lend authority to your case for staying with and supporting the "connection." OK -- how about quoting Wesley's statements regarding heresy, apostasy and corruption of the faith within the churches of his time? Check his sermons, "Awake, Thou That Sleepest" and "The Mystery of Iniquity," for starters. Listen to him speak of Satan's influence within the church, his mention of specific sinful practices, including "sodomies" and "fornication!" But I suspect there will be those who will rise up and say the old fellow was senile at that point and really didn't know what he was talking about! And if that doesn't do it, there is always the catch all statement -- "Oh, you are quoting John Wesley out of context!" Which, come to think of it, may have been happening more than a little bit these past few years -- even in editorials!

There is still a refusal to face up to the leadership problem that has made a major contribution to United Methodism's pathetic state of affairs! If you want a real good example, check a statement made by a bishop in one of the western conferences regarding same gender unions! There are lay persons that are basically saying, "Enough is enough -- we don't have to put up with this heresy!" And so they "vote" by leaving or withholding funds. And you suggest they don't understand the meaning of "connection?" Come on now -- quit trying to lay a guilt trip on people who have a better handle on their faith than do apostate bishops!

A copy is this is being sent to quite a number of United Methodists. And again you are invited to tour the revised Circuit Rider's Range where such issues as these and others are dealt with in greater detail. Address is:

Still contending (Jude 3,4)
Clayton D. Harriger
Retired Member, W PA Annual Conference

Wrinkles & Twists in the "Connection!"

Lots of talk these days about "connectionalism" and responsibility -- especially from members of the UMC hierarchy! Consider this -- could part of the problem be that some in leadership haven't performed in the pastorate too well themselves???

Take one conference for example -- two persons in leadership positions at present time -- as pastors of churches -- one was short $46,872 over 10 years in apportionment payments -- the other one in a 9 year span was $44,306 short!! Ah, this can be all documented in the minutes of the conference to which this pair belongs!
Both TALK a lot about connectional responsibility -- try to lay the old guilt trip on pastors and laity if they are not "paying up" -- would be a real circus if it weren't so pathetic!
Hmmmmm -- that kind of record sure inspires you doesn't it? Comment anyone? Is this hypocrisy of the first magnitude going on in your conference? To what conference am I referring? Just ask me! Click on Penelope, our letter eating toad, and ask your question or make your comment! We're going to have to give Penelope a pay raise -- she sure does a good job at keeping our mail department running smoothly!

Hey, We're OK!
Get on Those Tuxedos & Gowns and Let's Party!

No matter that we have passed the 2 million lost member mark and are pressing on to 3 million members lost since the '68 merger -- and no matter that people are still leaving the UMC because of division over practices and preaching that are anti Bible and contrary to the basic doctrines upon which the former Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Churches were established -- and never mind why these Churches in their early years were blessed mightily of God due to His Word being faithfully and passionately proclaimed with the result that huge numbers of people were brought to repentance, faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and an ardent pursuit of a holy life by committed obedience to that same Jesus!

Strange is it not, that quite a number of ministers didn't have all that college and seminary training either -- and would you believe that people (laity and pastors) in those days actually believed that the Bible meant what it says -- my, my -- what a strange approach to take!!! Well, they probably didn't know any better -- if they were alive now, we'd set them straight on this Bible stuff wouldn't we, and really show them how to grow a denomination!!!!

What's happening here -- is it a new approach in the ever growing popular practice of "revisionism" or what? A General Conference appointed task force has taken a look at things and guess what -- we're ok! We've gotten our membership rolls "cleaned" -- oh? What happened to those persons who were a part of that "cleaning" process? Were they always a part of the group that needed to be "cleaned" due to their cluttering up the membership roll of First UMC of Lukewarm City? Was anything really done to get them actively involved?

Or was it just a case of the "revolving door" procedure of taking in some new members each year (DS's sometimes have a fit if you don't add some new people to the roll -- lay a guilt trip on you if you don't and may even demand that you spell out how your church justifies its ongoing existence -- oh oh! -- Noah sure would have flunked out on that one!) -- besides, it makes us look good if we can show on the statistical report that we added some new people! BUT AT THE SAME TIME at charge conference we have to get rid of some "dead wood" on the roll too! Conference statistical minutes on large membership churches especially are exciting to read on this subject -- quite a juggling act some of them have going on this thing!

Incidentally -- on that membership loss -- has it ever occurred to you that perhaps it is appropriate that we have lost quite a large number of members over the years -- after all, our "official" policy in the UMC Discipline gives sanction to abortion on demand -- over the years since 1973 at least 38 million or more unborn have been sacrificed on the altar of a "god" by the name of Convenience --

-- the oldest of these victims would now be in their mid 20's had they been permitted to live and be born -- it cannot be denied that out of these sacrificed millions some would have been in the United Methodist Church -- one wonders what contribution they would have made in the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ -- the thought makes one as comfortable as a worm on a hot skillet -- uh, that is if we don't play our little rationalization game and try to dodge reality -- and members of the UMC hierarchy are certainly expert players in that particular game -- if you don't believe it, just ask them!!

We are told that despite membership losses that giving is up -- ah, when the dollar amount is adjusted, is giving as much now as say the year we had 11 million members? And do we have as many missionaries on the field as we had at that time?

The conclusion of the task force is "...that the United Methodist Church is alive and well." Put on the tuxedos and gowns -- let's celebrate -- we are alive and well -- or are we?

The Caste System Nobody Dares to Mention!

A "caste system" in the UMC? Surely not -- we are all equal aren't we -- and haven't we made great strides to be all "inclusive" and have made sure we have checked every jot and tittle so that we will be "politically correct?" Yea, sure!

The caste system that is very real but never identified as such is the UMC ministry! We have almost as many categories and pidgeon holes into which we put preachers as Mr. Planter has peanuts! And since last General Conference we seem to have managed to expand the pidgeon loft even more -- and here's the good part -- people related to Boards of Ordained Ministry admit they are in a state of confusion about all this!

What? You say there is no "caste system" -- yea, sure -- and you whistle when you walk past a cemetery at midnight too, don't you? What's that again? You say it's our tradition -- that's the polity (or should it be spelled 'politics') of the UMC! Uh huh -- never mind, God, that you called them to preach and that qualifies them for ministry -- just leave it to us -- we'll sort them out and make sure that everyone knows her or his proper place in the "pecking order!" Hold on just a minute before you get too excited -- not good for your blood pressure you know! Let's be real honest on this -- if this system were in another culture under another name, human rights people would attack it with the ferocity of a mad tiger -- and it would be called a CASTE SYSTEM or something akin to it! Anytime you put people into categories granting certain rights to some while denying others of those same rights, you have a CASTE SYSTEM!

For instance in the former Methodist Church God wonderfully used a lot of "supply pastors" -- persons who came to know Jesus Christ later in life and were called to preach -- most had no college, much less seminary training, but God used them anyway! In spite of fruitful ministries, it was a kind of unwritten "law" that they could only be placed in churches paying salaries that were lower in scale than the "elders" in "full connection." You simply could not put a supply pastor in a church where his salary would be more than one of the "elite" -- the elder in full connection! No sir, wouldn't look right -- might threaten our little caste system -- maybe even capsize the monstrosity!

Some elders have a hard time concealing their delight in this prestigious status -- you are a member of this elite group and you have unique power over others -- the bishop helps to swell the ego a bit at every executive session by clearly and emphatically spelling out who can vote and who cannot -- and you vote on whether some can join you in this special "club" -- and sometimes you vote to discontinue individuals who are wanting to get in! Ah, this power -- this special place -- nothing like it -- you can look down the ladder and see lots of people on the rounds below you -- and we have this rigged so that it is guaranteed that there will always be people below us in this clerical pecking order -- this ecclesiastical caste system! And some district superintendents have been known to make a distinction in the system by using expressions like "cream of the crop" pastors and "third rate pastors" -- hey, I got witnesses on this one folks -- you can deny it all you want to, but when PPR people hear those kind of words out of a DS's mouth, they have good memories!

One of the most disgusting sights at my annual conference some years ago (before a more advanced method of vote counting was developed) took place when the associate members and others were told to collect and count the votes for the general conference delegates! One of my best friends was an associate member -- he couldn't vote (not quite high enough on the ecclesiastical ladder you see!) -- so with all that spare time, he could collect and count the votes of us elite elders -- made me so mad that I voted for Snoopy, the Red Baron, Mickey Mouse etc. You know, individuals who have a high degree of intelligence and dignity!

Ah, yes -- critical, negative, sarcastic, and maybe a few other added flattering adjectives you say? Yea, sure -- now how about you taking your New Testament and on the basis of the same, spell out the texts that justify the existence of this top heavy ministerial monstrosity of a caste system -- this spiritual Frankenstein we have raised up!

"It's our tradition and our POLITY!", you say -- uh huh -- and someone named Jesus made a few pointed remarks about "traditions" and the fact that they have a way of screwing up the purposes of Almighty God! Well, back to my search -- I'm trying to find where they used those associates and those full time local pastors and those part timers and those student probationers and ......? Was it in the book of Acts or did Paul mention it in the pastoral epistles -- ummmm?????

Seriously, for you people are on the "lower rounds" of the ladder, take heart -- maybe it will indeed be more like what a friend of mine described some years ago -- you make your appearance before the Lord in His office -- on the desk are dozens of copies of that sacred book known as the "Conference Journal" -- He says, "This is the record you people kept, but we're going to go by the one I kept!" And as He says this, He reaches up on a shelf behind Him and pulls down the record He kept over the years which notes that we were part of a human devised ministerial caste system! But guess what? Surprisingly, God's standard for those whom He called to preach does not include a caste system -- for Him the matters of faithfulness, reverence and respect for His Word, and obedience seem to be priority issues!

Comment anyone? Don't worry -- at least too much -- my assistant, Theo, explains on the Guest Book area about possible reactions I may have, depending on reponses made -- a pre-addressed Email is available for you to fill in and send right now -- just click on the box right here.

Hey -- you look a little shook up -- but I did warn you earlier didn't I? Circuit Rider maintains that a lot of these problems can be cured through prayer on the part of God's people who take His Word and promises seriously -- if you haven't been there yet, visit CR's Prayer Boot Camp -- note the "positive" praying, the time when "negative" praying is called for, and oh oh! -- a time when you don't pray at all!

Still working on this one folks!

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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 Clayton D. Harriger