Thursday, November 24, 2005


Craig Moore over at Methodist No Spin Zone is having an interesting conversation about paying apportionments, and Forest Glen UMC's controversy with the Ohio Conference.

Now I'm not sure who is in the right or wrong in this situation. I have a hard time putting all the blame on a 17 member congregation who was already in the process of leaving the UMC. Maybe they made a mistake by withholding money from the conference that they indeed owed the conference. Mistakes happen every day. If this is the case then putting locks on the doors of the church and threatening tresspassing charges is, at best-a bit much, and at worse- simply a prickish thing to do.

However, if this congregation, no matter how small it may be, was withholding apportionment payments prior to this to make a political protest, which is in the rumor mill, then I am less sympathetic toward their plight. Behind each apportionment penny that we give, there is a real live human who has blood, who breathes, eats and sleeps and relies on our support. I'm sure that I don't agree with everything our apportion dollars go toward, but I also know that the ministries we support are ministries that one congregation could never support alone. By all churches giving what they can there are many many people who are supported. I'm not ready to do them harm by condoning a protest such as withholding apportionments.

If we're in a disgreement with our leaders let's effect change in ways that are prophetic without doing harm to those who are working in the trenches and those who are economically and socially at the margins.

...Funny how we get bent out of shape when a conference basically says it has the "right" to deny a group entry into a church building because their "practices" are incompatible with our understanding of connectional polity (stewardship, and christian life together).

but we have no problem denying some people membership into our church for the same reason.

If I were on the outside looking in at the United Methodist Church specifically at these two situations I would presume that we have a real problem with the spiritual practice of hospitality.



Eric Lee said...

I'm not completely familiar with the issues surrounding this case, but if it's true that some people were skimming off the top instead of giving what was required, then that is sad. The last time somebody skimmed off the top in the Bible (Ananias and Sapphira), they sorta got jacked... :(

However, I could be misreading this post. If so, forgive me.

On a different note, Happy Thanksgiving!



the reverend mommy said...

It's not an uncommon thing. These incidents occur in many different conferences over and over. Our conference closed 5 churches last year and not all went willingly into that dark night. One church had been through 15 pastors in 15 years -- it was a chew'em up and spit'em out kind of congregation. Clergy Killers, shall we say. Would not the truly loving thing to do be to call them accountable for their actions?

Church congregations have a life cycle -- birth, adolescence, adulthood and death. Sometimes they can stay in the birth to adult stage for a long time -- but sometimes they enter into the death stage. Then it is time to help them dissolve gently.

Greg Hazelrig said...

I'm also not up on this situation, but you hit upon something I wanted to comment about. It's about us paying our apportionments. What really gets me are those big churches in our conference who decide that instead of paying about half of their apportionments they will build a new building or use some other excuse like that. This is thinking only about themselves in my opinion and not about those you mentioned that our apportionments go to pay for their ministry.