JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

May 21, 2019 By dwayman

The work of a pastor is complex and multilayered.  From the care of individual Christians, to the care of a congregation, to the care of a community, pastors are responsible not only to assist people in their own spiritual growth but to assist individuals, congregations and communities to pursue justice.   Speaking on behalf of God the prophet Micah states:  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

Knowing how to act justly and to love mercy, Superintendents Michael Traylor and Mark Adams have written a primer for our pastors.  They define their purpose as:

“This primer seeks to provide brief guidelines for pastors and church leaders who seek to proclaim biblical truth, represent the needs of their congregation and community, becoming fully engaged as salt and light on earth while grasping the great truth that our citizenship is in heaven and our allegiance first and foremost to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In this primer you will find a brief framework in which to 1) understand advocacy in a contentious time, 2) view various legitimate but often competing moral advocacy views, 3) remember the Free Methodist story of advocacy and action borne of a passion to be more like Jesus, and 4) specific guidelines for advocacy that will keep you in the fight but above water, undergirded by the victory of Jesus Christ.”

They further explain:

“Free Methodists operate in a connection of congregations that is ethnically,

EQUALITY FOR WOMEN IN THE HOME

EQUALITY FOR WOMEN IN THE HOME

May 17, 2019 By dwayman

One of our Five Freedoms as Free Methodists, is the “Freedom of women and men to be treated respectfully and use their gifts equally in the church, in the home and in the world.”  This profound reversal of the results of sin’s consequence in Genesis 3, is  Salvation in action.  Throughout the world women have not been and still are often not treated respectfully and rather than empowering women to use their gifts given to them by God men have defined their place by their gender.  The Free Methodist church respectfully empowers all persons to be the person Jesus redeemed them to be!

However, there has been a struggle in recent years with a theology that affirms the respect for women but sees God as having limited their place because they are women.  This theology is called complementarian and is based on a hierarchical theology that retains the rule of men over women, but does so in a loving manner.  The result of this is many gifted women have not been able to take their place of leadership that utilizes their God-given gifts and calling.

To bring complete saving grace into the lives of women, the Free Methodist Church empowers women to serve in every place for which they are gifted.  This is called egalitarian. Though this is still a struggle within the broader Christian world it is no longer so for our churches and denomination.

DIGNITY AND WORTH OF PERSONS

DIGNITY AND WORTH OF PERSONS

May 12, 2019 By dwayman

At the Spring meeting of the Board of Administration of the FMCUSA, the Book of Discipline article ¶3221 was modified due to the work of three scholars of the FMC:  Dr. Ed Song, Dr. Helen Rhee and Pastor Kate Wallace-Nunneley.  Writing three separate resolutions to expand the article on the Worth of Persons, the SCOD took their work and combined them with the present article and changed the name to the DIGNITY and Worth of Persons.

This is our new article for the 2019 Book of Discipline:

¶3221           Dignity and Worth of Persons

We are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans regardless of gender, race, color, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.

The  Old  Testament  law  commands  such  respect  (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). He ministered to all without distinction and His death on the cross was for all (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

We are therefore pledged to active concern whenever human beings are demeaned, abused, depersonalized, enslaved or subjected to demonic forces in the world, whether by individuals or institutions (Galatians 3:28; Mark 2:27; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). We are committed to give meaning and significance to every person by God’s help. Remembering our tendency to be prejudicial,

A CALL TO DISCOURSE

A CALL TO DISCOURSE

March 29, 2019 By

As a global church it is important that we listen intently to Christians throughout the world.  Often each of us can be insulated by our own cultural experience that we unconsciously, and sometimes with full awareness, see those of other cultures as not being as informed or aware.  In this thoughtful call to discourse based on the recent international experience of the United Methodist Church, Dr. J. Derek McNeil provides guidance for all of us as a part of the global church.

He says, in part:

“In the wake of the UMC vote on Human Sexuality, I’ve become increasingly concerned that we are losing the capacity to see relationally and to hear each other beyond social categories. I have noticed a familiar tendency, in what started as an international vote concerning a global denomination is turned into a particularly American discussion—universalizing themes and inflections that are firmly located in our national political, religious, and social discourse. This shortchanges our understanding of the complexity of our human discourse and limits our ability to listen deeply.

To raise this point is not to intellectually diminish the real rejection and pain felt across the UMC denomination. The voices in this discourse matter, and I pray that we continue listening to the stories and honor the tears of those who have felt harmed and isolated by this vote, who have experienced the last few weeks as the deepening of an old wound. And may we also remember that there are voices—beyond and within our borders—who do not easily fall into the familiar categories and talking points of our national discourse.

UMC Keeps Tradition’s Sexual Ethics

UMC Keeps Tradition’s Sexual Ethics

February 27, 2019 By

When Wesley looked for truth he went first to Scripture and then to Tradition, Reason and Experience.  In the February 26, 2019 vote of the United Methodist Church concerning the ordination and marriage of avowed homosexual and lesbian people, the majority of delegates voted in agreement with the almost 2000 years of Church tradition as well as the Wesleyan biblical interpretation and tradition in what was called the Traditional Plan.

One of the reasons the denomination stayed connected to the “traditional” theology and practice, passing by a small majority, was the presence of the global church and its delegates.  In this speech by the Rev. Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, Dean of Gbarnga School of Theology, United Methodist University in Liberia, he states in clear unequivoacal and civil manner that the church in Africa will stay true to historic Methodism and “not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.”

Dr. Kulah says in part:

“Another road invites us to reaffirm Christian teachings rooted in Scripture and the church’s rich traditions.

It says, “All persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” that “All persons need the ministry of the Church,” and that “We affirm that God’s grace is available to all.”

It grounds our sexual ethics in Scripture when it says, the UM Church does “not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers [it] incompatible with Christian teaching.”

While “we commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons,” we do not celebrate same-sex marriages or ordain for ministry people who self-avow as practicing homosexuals.

81 WORDS: HOW THE DESIGNATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY WAS REMOVED FROM THE DIAGNOSTIC STATISTICAL MANUAL

81 WORDS: HOW THE DESIGNATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY WAS REMOVED FROM THE DIAGNOSTIC STATISTICAL MANUAL

December 18, 2018 By

When you live through a seismic cultural change it often catches individuals and nations by surprise.  This occurred in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association changed the defining of homosexuality from a disease to a dysphoria disorder which was then quietly removed in the succeeding years.  The circumstances surrounding the transition is a combination of activism and gay psychiatrists within the APA rising to the highest and most strategic positions.  In this American Life the granddaughter of the gay psychiatrist who was president-elect of the APA when the change was made explores the personal, political and cultural dynamics which brought about the change.  Although we like to think it was the science that led to the removal of the designation of homosexuality as a DSM disorder it was not.

The story begins with our author, Alix Spiegel, explaining first in 2002 and recently repeated on This American Life on December 16, 2018:

“Alix Spiegel

This is the story of a definition, three single sentences composed of 81 words. It’s the story of how this particular definition became another definition, nine sentences, composed of 237 words.

Now according to some parties, this change from 81 words to 237 words liberated an entire category of humanity. According to other parties, it undermined the basic family unit, compromised the scientific authority of psychiatry, and quote, “tampered with the basic code and concept of life.”

Now,

TRANSGENDER SURGERIES

TRANSGENDER SURGERIES

December 17, 2018 By

Perhaps for political reasons, Gender Dysphoria has been grouped together with sexual preference under the label of Transgender.  However, most professionals recognize this DSMV designation found in 0.005% to 0.014% of the population as being of a different nature from that of same-sex or bisexual desire.  The research has been exploring how best to care for persons who experience this with one of the possible solutions being a sex change surgery.   In 2004 the Guardian studied this and found that:

“There is no conclusive evidence that sex change operations improve the lives of transsexuals, with many people remaining severely distressed and even suicidal after the operation, according to a medical review conducted exclusively for Guardian Weekend tomorrow. The review of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham’s aggressive research intelligence facility (Arif) found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.  

The Guardian asked Arif to conduct the review after speaking to several people who regret changing gender or believe that the medical care they received failed to prepare them for their new lives. They explain why they are unhappy with their sex change and how they cope with the consequences in the Weekend magazine tomorrow (July 31).

Chris Hyde, the director of Arif, said: “There is a huge uncertainty over whether changing someone’s sex is a good or a bad thing. While no doubt great care is taken to ensure that appropriate patients undergo gender reassignment,

RACE AND IDENTITY

RACE AND IDENTITY

November 6, 2018 By

Fuller Theological Seminary presents this video symposium to help us understand the deeper and larger issues of race as experienced within the fusion of Christianity and Whiteness.  Whiteness is not about the color of a person’s skin, but the defining of salvation in ways that both distort and import other values thank those of Jesus Christ.  These are two lectures that help us begin this dialogue within the church..  The first is by Dr. Willie Jennings and expands both our minds and our hearts to understand how most of the world experiences the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this post colonial world.  The second is the response by Dr. Mark Labberton, the president of Fuller.  Together this will take about an hour and is extremely valuable to the Free Methodist Church as we continue to be transformed into followers of Jesus Christ.

FULLER dialogues: Race and Identity

Response | Mark Labberton

EVANGELICAL, WESLEYAN, EGALITARIAN

EVANGELICAL, WESLEYAN, EGALITARIAN

November 1, 2018 By

Our Wesleyan heritage has been supportive of women in leadership throughout our tradition.  Though not always lived out, here is a good article explaining this history.  Written by Craig L. Adams you can read the entire article here.

In part he says:

“I guess it is a paradigm shift for a lot of people but, the fact is that the Methodist acceptance of women in ministry was well ahead of the modern, secular feminist movement — and is, in that sense, unrelated to it! The more radical, Bible-thumping, revivalistic branches of the Wesleyan movement accepted the idea of women in ministry long before the official acceptance of this by the United Methodist Church.

As proof I offer this passage from Binney’s Theological Compend Improved (1874): “Woman’s Sphere in the Church.”

This early egalitarian attitude toward gender & women in ministry is characteristic of the Wesleyan tradition and should be seen as part of the fruit of a progressive-revelation perspective on the Scriptures. The rejection of the practice of slavery by John Wesley and the earliest Methodists is another.

There is really a difference in how Scripture functions in Wesleyan theology as contrasted with other perspectives.

In a recent article on the Church of the Nazarene’s Holiness Today site, Al Truesdale (emeritus professor of philosophy of religion and Christian ethics at Nazarene Theological Seminary) writes about “Why Wesleyans Aren’t Fundamentalists.” He says that the fundamentalist approach is to see the content Scripture’s revelation as divinely revealed information: thus,

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE

October 15, 2018 By

SCOD 2018
Supt. Bruce N. G. Cromwell, Ph.D.

The 2015 FMC-USA General Conference directed the SCOD to research things that make for peace, the use of force or violence, and the concept of a just war. As I began to study this topic and research these issues,1 eventually resulting in a paper on capital punishment for the SCOD,2 it was suggested that the broader and yet more foundational issue which must be addressed is the relationship between the Church and the State. Such interchange is rife with challenges and opportunities. History has found the dizzying dance between the city of God and the city of humans to often have the respective partners switching the lead, or at least attempting to each guide the relationship. But the two-steps and dips and twirls and spins that Church-State relations seem to currently be engaged in have led to increased questions about what a Christian should do in our complicated and confusing political reality.

When looking at the issues facing our societies and the best ways for peoples and nations to address such societal concerns it is important to ask what the proper place and role of the Church is alongside of political entities. How much should one influence the other, or even relate to the other? The words “separation of Church and State” are frequently thrown about in such discussions, though they are often used in a manner not intended by Thomas Jefferson,