Author: Rev. Dr. Mark R. Holland, Executive Director, Mainstream UMC
Everyone hates labels. So, let’s clarify some labels together! There is a functional quality to understanding ourselves and others better. If we are going to form a coalition, we need to understand the values of those with whom we seek to be in relationship.
Our goal is for clarity only, not to push anyone into a box. And, the clarity relates specifically to LGBTQ ordination and marriage. We might shift categories on other issues. Most of us are very clear who we are not. We are not Traditional Incompatibilists who seek to forcibly remove others from the church with the mean-spirited Traditional Plan. This determination, unfortunately, is not enough for a coalition.
We have chosen some functional categories that have been used in and around the church for the past three years as it relates to LGBTQ ordination and marriage. Yes, we are all sick of these categories, but what else do we have? You are invited to join the Mainstream UMC forum to help clarify these categories as crisply and succinctly as possible. These categories say a lot about the kind of church we are trying to build (or are willing to live in.)
At the UMC Next gathering this past week at the Church of the Resurrection, the terms centrist and progressive were used loosely to describe the coalition we are trying to build, but these are not clearly understood. We agreed to work two simultaneous tracks: 1) Staying and resisting while we, 2) Explore dissolving the church and starting over. Under no circumstance will any of us accept the mean-spirited Traditional Plan. It seems like the tension between tracks 1 and 2 may lie in the categories below. Ironically, this is the same tension the far right of our church is in. The Good News seems to want to stay and purify while the Wesleyan Covenant Association wants to dissolve and start over.
Once you have helped clarify these categories, we will ask you in a future post to self-identify where you are and then offer insights into the kind of church you are willing to live in. We will also ask you to weigh in on whether you would prefer track 1 or 2 above. We will let the questions below run through the weekend to give you time to think about them. Please forward this email to all your United Methodist friends and family. This is an open forum and the more input the better!
Join the conversation on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/411092923058211/
Or join the conversation on our website here: https://mainstreamumc.com/forum/
Here are the five categories for your consideration with draft definitions (We are numbering the questions on the forum continuously, so these categories are Questions 3-7)
Question 3: What is a Progressive Incompatibilist? Only willing to be in a church with others who fully embrace LGBTQ ordination and marriage. Anyone who is against it or unsure should be in a different church. Unwilling to compromise. Offended by Centrists and by the mean-spirited Traditional Plan.
Question 4: What is a Progressive Compatibilist? Fully embrace and celebrate LGBTQ ordination and marriage, but willing to be in a church with those who do not fully embrace it, or are unsure, so long as there is no harmful language and LGBTQ ordination and marriage is allowed. Uncomfortable with compromise, but willing to join a broader coalition. Offended by the mean-spirited Traditional Plan.
Question 5: What is a Centrist? Accepts LGBTQ ordination and marriage and seeks to end the harm caused by the exclusionary language. Actively seeks compromise for unity and for the broadest expression of Methodism. Is offended by both Progressive and Traditional Incompatibilists and offended by the mean-spirited Traditional Plan because it causes more harm and is dividing the church.
Question 6: What is a Traditional Compatibilist? Do not personally agree with LGBTQ ordination and marriage, but willing to be in a church that allows it. But, would prefer to be in a church that does not allow it. Uncomfortable with compromise, but willing to join a broader coalition. Uncomfortable with the mean-spirited Traditional Plan, but willing to go along with it.
Question 7: What is a Traditional Incompatibilist? Only willing to be in a church with others who oppose LGBTQ ordination and marriage. Fully support the mean-spirited Traditional Plan to forcibly remove everyone who disagrees. Unwilling to compromise and offended by Centrists.
Thank you in advance for your feedback!
Please donate to Mainstream UMC to help us facilitate this ongoing grassroots conversation. https://mainstreamumc.com/donate/
Correction! In my previous post, “UMC Next Recap,” I incorrectly lumped Western and Northern Europe in with the Central Conferences that voted as a block to impose the mean-spirited Traditional Plan on the U.S. church. These regions of Europe voted with the 2/3 majority of the U.S. for the One Church Plan. My apologies for this oversight. You can read my corrected post here: https://mainstreamumc.com/blog/umc-next-recap/
Resource: Here is a petition that the Great Plains representatives at UMC Next are putting forth from the floor next week at our annual conference. It affirms the work of UMC Next and encourages every congregation to be in dialogue. https://mainstreamumc.com/documents/resources/2019-05-22UMC-Next-Petition.pdf