Skip to content

CLUB 444: “Hurt and Confused”

January 26, 2023

Warren “Wally” Lathem and I went to the same seminaries at the same times: Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. It is with his graciously expressed permission that I share this – –

I remember when Dr. Timothy Tennet was serving the circuit referenced in this* article. His reflection on that time brought me to tears as I recalled many similar experiences a decade before his experience. He captures much of the current anguish in small UMC’s especially in North Georgia. While I have been contacted by many large churches to discuss the implications of Disaffiliation via paragraph 2553, it has been the dozens of small churches which have caused me the greatest anguish. I grew up in one of those. Generations of my family are buried in the cemetery as well as our son. The chaos currently being experienced in the UMC, especially in North Georgia, is not of their doing. They are among the victims. And it appears to them, and me, that no one in leadership in NGA cares at all about the untenable situation in which they have been placed. They feel betrayed and abandoned by the denomination they faithfully supported since 1968 and in many cases its predecessor denomination for 100, 150, even 200 years. Their sin: faithful adherence to the orthodox faith. Oh, and their size. They are worth more to leadership for the value of their property than they are as a serving congregation. They knew they were the original targets of the previous bishop’s original intent to close 200 churches in NGA. Many have been victims of what Dr. Tennet describes as progressive pastors serving traditionalist congregations and the open hostility which has resulted when anything is mentioned about even discussing disaffiliation. They have been threatened and bullied to believe they cannot even have a conversation about the current situation among lifelong friends and family without sabotaging the whole route to disaffiliation. They have been told if they share a website or FaceBook reference, they will be blocked. Yet many moved ahead against the strong headwinds of antagonistic pastors, superintendents and the bishop and trustees of the conference. Then Bishop Sue made her parting shot at them by “pausing” the process, effectively eliminating the possibility of disaffiliation. Now they are even more hurt and confused. The denomination is in chaos and they simply want out of the mess they did not cause. Any charitable Christian should help them find the release they long for. They are not finding much, if any, sympathy from the very folks who are charged with their care. This simply breaks my heart. These are my folks. I have preached in dozens of these churches over the last 50 years. Relationships from 1972 and forward have called out to me, “Can you help us?” And I cannot.

*Dr. Tennet’s piece —

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: