If you have not already read my brief Tiding’s article, “The United Methodist Church: A Way Forward,” please do so before continuing.
In February, our denomination will hold a special-called general conference to decide how to move forward in regard to the ordination and marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals within The United Methodist Church.
As a denomination, we are guided by our constitution as well as our doctrinal statements, general rules, and social principles. But even though our denomination has taken positions on certain social issues, it would be a mistake to think that we are united in our views and beliefs in regard to these official stances. The fact is, The United Methodist Church is comprise of people who have a very diverse set of beliefs. And though our diversity of beliefs has never posed a threat to our system, many well respected voices within our denomination see the upcoming general conference vote as the beginning of the end of our beloved United Methodist Church. Personally, I think it’s likely that a day will come (before I retire) when our denomination will split, and individual congregations will have to choose which ‘branch’ they will go with.
Fortunately, God is bigger than our denomination. If you do a little digging, you’ll quickly discover that since the birth of The Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784, there has been anything but unity in the church. Our Methodist family tree has lots and lots of branches. In fact, one of our biggest splits was over the issue of slavery. In 1844 we split because some in the church wanted to keep it, and some wanted to abolish it. And if you really want to blow your mind, then take a look a family tree of the Protestant Church. Depending upon the data you’re looking at, there are anywhere between 9,000 and 33,000 Protestant denominations in the world today!!
But here’s the thing: God is bigger than our myriad of denominations. God has been accomplishing his will and purpose through people just like us for millennia. In the end, whether we’re Methodist, Mennonite, or Mumbaflascomicalishington, God’s still going to accomplish his work in this world. Disciples will be made, and lives and communities will be transformed, all in the name of Jesus Christ.
If and when the day comes when this congregation has to make a choice, I hope we will do so trusting that God always has been and always will be in control. No amount of denominational dividing can thwart God’s plan. The ending’s been written. Love wins. Grace wins. God wins!