Saturday, May 16, 2009

More on the 32 Amendments to the Constitution of the United Methodist Church

Previous blog is about the 32 amendments to the constitution of the United Methodist Church that will be voted on by United Methodists at each Annual Conference this June. United Methodists meet annual (once a year) in each conference on matters of ministry, mostly budget and nominations. This year they will vote on the amendments.

In the previous blog I commented on them all in general. There is one more that needs comment. One amendment asks that we be more inclusive and list gender among those that we cannot cannot discriminate against in terms of membership in our church. Now, I don't know anybody who has been turned down for membership because they were a man or woman, do you?

In my opinion this amendment grows out of an attempt to further limit the authority of a United Methodist Pastor to decide who joins a church. I don't remember ever turning down anyone who wanted to join the church except a few. Those who refused to stand in front of the church and take the vows of belief and membership. Some did not want to profess faith in Christ; imagine that.

Once I got a call from a man who wanted to join my church. He was doing it for his wife, whom he said suffered from depression. He said: "She is happier when she is in church." So, he asked me what he and she needed to do. I explained that he could join if he would profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He said: "You mean I have to say I believe something to join." I tried to explain. He passed.

In the Presbyterian Church, prospective members go before the Session. In the Baptist Church, the whole church votes on you. In the United Methodist Church, the pastor is the only one who has such authority.

Again, I don't know of anybody rejected because of gender. We already are open to those who want to join. We don't need an amendment.

As a United Methodist pastor I value my authority in terms of church membership. And, I appreciate the trust of the church in me to make these decisions. So, again, I encourage you to vote "no" on all amendments except the one giving voting rights to Local pastors and Associate Members of the Annual Conference.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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