Skip to content

CLUB 444: “The Church I Served”

May 31, 2022

Wally Latham and I were in both college and seminary together, in Wilmore, KY and Atlanta, GA respectively. It’s with his gracious permission that I share the following, which he wrote and posted this morning —

The North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church meets this week in Athens, GA. It is the first time since 1975 that I have not been required to attend. I transferred my ordination to the Global Methodist Church as soon as the option was available.

Why does it matter for an old, worn out 70 year old retiree? For me the AC I knew and tried to serve effectively and faithfully is no more. There is the dire state of rapid decline.

But that is not the issue. I was appointed to churches which were in decline. I did not shy away from the challenge to reverse the decline and grow the church. Each one reversed direction.

The decline does not overly concern me even though it is accelerating at an alarming rate. For me it is in many ways the fact that for the first time in my ministry I have no respect for the episcopal leader, no alignment with her theology and no hope the denominational bishops will discipline themselves, and no avenue for the church to correct itself.

Institutionalists have firm control of the denomination and have no passion for what I understand to be the mission of the church. Words have been redefined. They talk about making disciples, but spend their energies and the resources of their conferences in pursuit of cultural agendas in direct conflict to the clear witness of the scriptures. It is this destruction of scriptural authority which has resulted in a church with no message to speak to our fallen culture. Political agendas trump scriptural fidelity.

But the core issue is the lost remain lost. The UMC, with some notable exceptions, has lost a passion for the lost, has lost an understanding that apart from Christ folks are lost, and lost the ability to reach the lost.

This is the key problem for me. So I give my remaining day, or days, to a movement that I trust will recover our Methodist passion to reach the lost. I will miss friendships formed over a lifetime of going to Annual Conferences.

But I look forward to seeing the lost saved. Remembering John Wesley, “You have nothing to do but save souls.” I would ask my friends at your AC’s, “How will this result in the saving of souls?”

And I shudder at the response that question would receive if it was actually asked. Scorn? Ridicule? Irrelevant? Fundamentalist? Redefinition?

The church I served has lost the ability to even wrestle with this question.

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: