As delegates from our churches and from our districts this year, we all share a heavy obligation to help elect delegates to our General Conference and our Jurisdictional Conference in 2016. Who should you vote for? Of course, election decisions should always be bathed in prayer. Pray for wisdom and for discernment in making and voting for delegates. Learn as much about them as possible, and look to the covenant we adopt at annual conference to reflect our wholeness and our diversity in age, race, gender and theology. To that end, we suggest that you find out each delegate’s opinion in these four areas:
What About the Authority of Scripture?
Does Scripture have any moral force in the delegate’s opinion? Or is it just a collection of stories, sayings and principles, which may be outmoded? Of course, we at FLUME believe that when we read it prayerfully in the Holy Spirit and in proper context, it is the word of God and the all-sufficient rule for faith and practice.
Does the Delegate Want to Change the Book of Discipline? What and Why?
Except for the Constitution and the Restrictive Rules, many parts of the Discipline change every four years. This is due to operational and legal concerns in our complex modern society. However, in the Social Principles and elsewhere, there are moral provisions that have stood the test of time and holiness in living out our faith. Do you want our traditional, Wesleyan stances on morality to change? Does the delegate? What should change in the Discipline in their view, and why?
Should We Agree to Disagree?
Many take the view that we have a variety of viewpoints on sexual morality and on who should be ordained to serve as our pastors. Agreeing to disagree seems only to reflect what is actually true among United Methodists today. But what would be the result of “agreeing to disagree?” Only United Methodism, out of all traditional “mainstream” denominations of Christianity, has maintained traditional biblical stances on sexuality and morality. Do you want these to change? Over the last 15 years, every other denomination that has “agreed to disagree” or otherwise compromised on their denominational statements of morality has very quickly followed up by relaxing restrictions on marriage and ordination. The Book of Discipline is our rulebook/lawbook about what is acceptable in the conduct of the lives of our churches. What should be allowed? What not? Where does the delegate stand?
Should We Adopt a Separate Structure for the Church in the United States?
There are many suggestions for changing our church structure for the church. Some have merit. Some have not. When discussing differences in needs and in worship, some suggest we allow the American church to not be held accountable for differences in the way we conduct our lives and determine our moral principles, separate from the decisions of the worldwide church. Where does the delegate stand on these matters?