You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.Matthew chapter 5, verses 36 and 37; from The Message (Msg)
Seriously! What happened to Integrity? Along with many other virtues, Integrity has been given the boot in our culture; and yes, even in some churches. The United Methodist being the epitome of giving Integrity the boot. If I ever doubt my decision to leave that Tribe, then it seems that Tribe does something to remind me, “Hey! You made the right decision!”
Case in point: the recent action by Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and the North Georgia Annual Conference. Where Arkansas only denied 3 congregations the right to disaffiliate, she and her minions have denied EVERY church in their Conference the opportunity to discern where God is leading them. If you doubt the word of this former tribal member, then I direct your attention to what the leadership of the North Georgia Annual Conference sent to their congregations. You can read her letter here!
In their Annual Conference Session in 2021, and affirmed in 2022, a process for discernment and disaffiliation was clearly laid out. And according to these minions of the North Georgia Annual, there has been too much misinformation being presented to churches in order for them to make the right decision. However, their letter doesn’t give any specific misinformation that is being spread among the churches. Just that it’s misinformation! And their conclusion?
After lengthy periods of discussion and consultation involving the cabinet, the board of trustees, and appropriate conference leadership, we have agreed that our Annual Conference cannot rely upon such votes for purposes of negotiating a gracious exit.
So, what she’s saying is that congregations within the bounds of the North Georgia Annual Conference are incapable of discerning whether they should stay UMC or not. But get this: They Are Capable Of Making Decisions For Them! Is this not the embodiment of arrogance? I double-dog-dare you to find any better (perhaps the word should be worst) example of arrogance than this! She reminded them that in 2024, the General Conference will meet, and perhaps things will get better. Never mind that Paragraph 2553 will cease to be in existence at that time.
Then she has the audacity to say, and I quote: “We stand beside you knowing that pause and uncertainty are hard. We pray for you and your ministry daily as together we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” She and her minions are NOT standing beside those congregations. They are towering over them waving a club over their heads. I doubt that Eugene Peterson and his group of translators foresaw this mess. But their rendition of today’s passage certain fits the description of the spiritual conditions in North Georgia: “You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.“
The Minions of North Georgia have indeed embellished their words with religious lace. And their words are less and less true. Lord, have mercy on their souls and may their eyes be opened to The Truth. Before it is too late for their souls!