aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Vote for me?

With some trepidation, I have offered myself for election as a clergy delegate to the 2016 United Methodist General and/or North Central Jurisdictional Conference. I have no great expectations in that regard, but we’ll see how it goes. I was asked recently to describe my background and experiences that might fit me for the task. I responded something like this.

Most people in the Indiana Conference know me as the Scouting guy. I have been involved in UM Scouting Ministry for over thirty years. Last quadrennium, I was the President of the National Association of United Methodist Scouters (NAUMS), which at that time made me also a member of the Board of Directors of the General Commission on United Methodist Men (GCUMM). Which means, I have seen the sausage being made, and I can tell you it ain’t pretty. And while I had always thought of the folks at GCUMM as more generally favorable to conservative/evangelical/orthodox views than most other general agencies, when you get right down to it, GCUMM is as corrupt as any of the other agencies. They will sell you out in a heartbeat to preserve their treehouse.

As for my general outlook on United Methodism, I remember that when I graduated from seminary some time back in the Jurassic, I looked around and realized that I had a different set of concerns from many other Annual Conference members. Not wishing to be like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs – that is, not wishing to be in perpetual conflict with other clergy and lay members of the Conference – I decided that I would take as my special province the defense of Nicene Christology. Nobody much was talking about dogma back then; the evangelicals were more interested in being “spiritual” than in creedal definitions, and the liberals who dominated Conference business were more interested in nuclear freezes and saving the whales. I figured I could spend my entire career in peace, since nobody would ever attack my isolated post.

How wrong I was. Within fifteen years, we were as a denomination involved in re-imagining God. Suddenly, everybody was talking about the nature of God, and I found myself with no place to back up to. I was already standing on the brink of the “last ditch” I had volunteered to die defending. I remember particularly how uncomfortable it was to be sitting among my clergy colleagues at a lunch gathering one time, and having a leading pastor (now a bishop) say to me, “Oh, come on, Art, you don’t think there are any of our people who don’t believe in God, do you?” And I had to swallow very hard and say, “Yes, I do.” Ever since, I have increasingly found myself in Tevye’s position – on both moral and metaphysical grounds – trying to get along with people but having to say to those who want me to go along with them, “On the other hand . . . No. There is no other hand.”

There are lots of things I would like to see The United Methodist Church do – especially as regards Scouting Ministry and lifting up and empowering the Central Conferences -- but I’m afraid this General Conference will be dominated by the things I want The UMC not to do. That’s not because I am a generally negative person, but because some of the things we are being asked to go along with must be answered with a polite but emphatic No.

  • Time Warp

    I’ve been researching old tunes to match the lyrics of “The Wife of Usher’s Well,” an old British ballad about a woman whose three sons who were lost…

  • The Eccentric and the Weirdo

    Many years ago, I read an essay in TIME magazine by Pico Iyer called, “The Eccentric and the Weirdo.” This followed upon some outrage committed by…

  • The diagnosis is the easy part

    A world dominated by China will be an uglier world. To keep China from bullying other nations, the US and our friends and allies need to decide where…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.