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And so now some 80 pastors and theologians have stated its time the UM realizes the progressives and conservatives cannot find common ground so its time to find an amicable parting of ways.

Tonight, I sat in the small contemporary service of the church I serve. My church is a moderate church. There are those on both sides of the homosexual issue. My church is a uniting between two churches. There are still people who lament the decision to go with chairs rather than pews. But as I worshipped tonight I watched how these dear, dear saints with differing theologies in areas of belief and different traditions which are sacred to them let those differences dissolve and passionately worshipped Jesus. And during the week they passionately serve the poor, study Scripture, seek to love God and love people–despite some major disagreements.

What the hell is wrong with our denomination?

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Lately it seems each week brings another article or blog about the United Methodist Church’s struggle with the issue of homosexuality. With Annual Conference season upon us, the discussion rises to a new level. Some have declared it is time for the UMC to simply divide over the issue. In response to the talk of schisms, others are calling for unity. I would love to add my voice to the cry for unity as well. But even the cry for unity is just adding to the cacophony if we don’t acknowledge what stands in the way of unity.

1. Unity cannot happen when we have our bags packed for an easy exit. As long as anyone is calling for schism, unity is a pipe dream.

2. Unity cannot happen when we sow seeds of doubt. The painting of the ones we disagree with as anything less than disciples of Christ seeking to love God and love people as best as they can sows doubt. The painting of those we disagree with as people who do not accept the whole counsel of God’s Word or people who just ignore the parts they don’t like, sows seeds of doubt. Until we acknowledge that people on all sides of this issue are seeking to love God and love people, to hold Scripture to the highest regard and be true to Scripture, reason, tradition and experience, and that we all see things dimly in this life, we sow seeds of doubt. Unity cannot be realized when we dismiss those we disagree with as being less committed, less spiritual, less led by the Spirit than we. Can we really discuss this issue and walk united together as we struggle when we are judged for believing as we do? It seems we cannot be ourselves. Unity is not possible.

3. Unity cannot happen while we keep shooting at each other. In the past several years, charges have been brought up against pastors for denying membership to church based on homosexuality, against pastors who have performed same sex weddings, and against bishops for not bringing pastors up on charges. For those who agree with the discipline, its easy to call for unity. Its a call for everyone to adhere to the discipline and keep everything status quo. For those whose interpretation of Scripture conflicts with the Discipline’s mandate, well its a little harder. Can we really discuss this issue and work through this issue–when we cannot live out our convictions or be who we are without threat of charges being brought up? Can there be a cease fire between all sides?  

I have no plans to walk away from the UMC no matter how votes go in our conferences. But a cry for unity seems to be hollow if we continue to talk schism, continue to dismiss and degrade the other and continue to bring up each other on charges.

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