After a life of service as pastor and/or denominational leader, some of our best are being pointed to the exit. Jack Harnish is one of the best among us. Sadly, some “colleagues” want to change the vision of the United Methodist Church from “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” to “If you don’t agree with me there is the door. Exit politely please.” Here Jack speaks of the wonderment created by the idea that folks from the Wesleyan Covenant Association now say tens of thousands who have a differing view should seek “an honorable exit.”“…seek an honorable exit” And the worlds and work of the great spirits of our tradition like E. Stanley Jones, Leontine Kelly, Georgia Harkness, Albert Outler and James Thomas are turned upside down.
I don’t think I have ever been invited to “seek an honorable exit” before, but it doesn’t feel very good.
Last week the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church ruled against the consecration of a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” as a Bishop. In it’s full context, it is a complex and somewhat convoluted decision, but the bottom line is that the Judicial Council did what they are supposed to do–they ruled on the constitutionality of such an election based on their understanding of the Discipline of the Church. There is plenty of room for debate about their decision and there will be much conversation over the coming weeks about the implications. Right now, I am not ready to step into that debate. What struck me was the reaction of the “Wesleyan Covenant Association”, a conservative group for whom this issue is the bottom line, the red line, the litmus test…
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