The UMC Death Knell Continues to Sound!
(or The Lumberjack Continues to Chip Away!)

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

[Works of J. Wesley, Vol. 13, Letters & Writings, P. 320]

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)

Music Title: Crying!

Notice: the following is an expressed response to what happened in Sacramento CA on the date of February 11, 2000 -- a date which is presently competing with December 7, 1941 for a place in that dark and dismal area identified as "infamy!" Post Script items follow at Sacramento Fiasco Par Excellence!

Oh, where to begin? What can one say? Or what can one do? Ah, the frustration of it all – sleep eludes me – the nightmare of February 11, 2000 in Sacramento CA returns again and again – what I suspected might happen did happen! I had envisioned this day for a little over a year following the publicity splash of a few dozen UMC clergy participating in a union ceremony of 2 United Methodist female church leaders in Sacramento.

The UM Cal-Nev Conference Committee on Investigation made its decision known which basically said there were no grounds to bring to trial those clergy who had clearly violated the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church!

Bishop Talbert, as bishops are want to do, made a number of statements which employed pious terminology in an effort to justify this brazen act of defiance. What makes it even more repugnant is that he did this with such a flair that would make even the master politician, Bill Clinton, envious!

So, what now? With General Conference 2000 but a few weeks away, does this latest debacle mean anything significant? Certainly, and here’s why……………

First, the same gender couplers have won a significant round in the “war” in a number of ways. The message now is that we no longer pay any attention to the UMC Book of Discipline in the name of an imagined “higher covenant!” So, do your own thing – clergy and laity – no more rules apply whatsoever!

Further, there has been a successful strategy carried out with the result that the Bible is totally irrelevant. Ask the Bird lady from Garrett – she’ll tell you – as an “expert” witness at the Sacramento Circus proceedings Ms. Bird revealed that the Bible cannot be taken as a moral guide book in matters having to do with homosexuality. So, presto chango and hocus pocus, the Bible no longer applies either! Seminary professors are the last word in these things, didn’t you know?

The rhetoric, which the same gender couplers have developed to a state of perfection, will be used to lay a huge guilt trip on all those who stand in opposition to their agenda. After all, to be opposed to those persons who are in “committed loving relationships” and who want such relationships to be fully recognized and accepted in eyes of church and state is to be automatically branded as “unloving,” “unchristian,” “homophobic,” and other such attractive labels!

Second, those of the “evangelical” camp will now be on the defensive more than ever before! There will be all kind of statements issued, but always in such a way that no one will be highly offended lest we risk being tagged with some of those aforementioned labels and we are perceived as being “mean spirited” radicals.

There will likely be more “dialoging” times – oh, what would we do if we could not “dialog?” This is a great tactic. In the same gender coupling issue it works a bit like the lumberjack with his axe – the tree is the target – just keep chipping away, and finally the last chip is cut out, and down comes the tree! Chip by chip – the “guilt trip” axe laced with “loving” language expressions in the hands of the same gender couplers flails away – the “evangelical tree” is beginning to totter – you fill in the _______________ as to what happens next!

What might happen at General Conference? Some talk of splits, divisions and all that sort of thing. No, that is highly doubtful – more likely a further weakening of the Book of Discipline statements on homosexuality – you know, where it says something about homosexuality being incompatible with Christian teaching! And so we do some amending and insert some fancy political phrasing in which the “evangelicals” don’t completely cave in this time around and the same gender couplers didn’t exactly get everything they wanted either – but wait until next time! Just a few more chips and we’re home free, and remember we have a lot of politicians on our side and powerful forces in the mass media culture as well – there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

So – here I am – expressing my frustration by writing over the present condition of the church of which I have been a part for over 66 years and a pastor for 40 ½ of those years. In all that time I have never doubted the integrity nor the authority of God’s inspired Word, nor what God has plainly revealed to be the basic moral standards by which male and female are to relate to each other. I do admit to the misfortune of crossing paths with pastors and reading the works of “theologians” (term loosely applied) who somehow felt that they had been elevated into a position of being judge, jury, prosecutor, and executioner of the Word of God! Hence, the mess with which we are now contending within the ranks of that which purports to be the church that follows Jesus Christ!

But this simply reminds me of something else God has revealed in His Word about depraved human nature creating chaos all over this planet. It is expressed very simply in Isaiah 24:5 which mentions the practice of transgressing the laws, changing ordinances, and breaking the everlasting covenant! Shades of Sacramento CA!

And so I bid those who still choose to believe God to join with me in applying the following appeal and taking to heart the affirmation of Psalm 119:126-128 (NKJV) which declares,

"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."

Still contending (John 15:16; Jeremiah 15:17; Jude 3,4)

Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection, W. Pennsylvania Annual Conference, UMC
Web Site: Circuit Rider's Range at:

A Selah Moment!
Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
Isaiah 26:10 (NKJV)

Post Script Items on the Sacramento Fiasco Par Excellence!

OK - check out some of these sources to get a feel of the rumblings going on --

Return to Range 1

CR's Leap of Faith! OR The Whole Spread of CR's Range

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Copyright 2000, 2001 Clayton D. Harriger