The United Methodist Church is the largest of the old, declining, liberal Protestant denominations in the United States. Nevertheless, it still claims 8.6 million members and many of them are Evangelical. In its General Conference, held every four years, delegates come from the mission churches planted overseas in back in the days when liberal Protestants still did missions. The African and other overseas churches are growing rapidly and are, unsurprisingly, overwhelmingly Evangelical. They now number about 4.4 million members. The Evangelicals in the US plus the mission church delegates from overseas now constitute a majority of General Conference delegates.
As Evangelical churches continue to grow in the US and especially overseas and the liberals die off, the denomination is expected to become more and more Evangelical. So, interestingly, the UMC thus constitutes a kind of microcosm of world Protestantism today. What does the future of world Protestantism look like? Is is liberal? Ecumenical? Liberation/Marxist? Feminist? Or is it conservative, traditional and Evangelical? General Conference is going on in Tampa this week, so let’s drop in and find out.
The Washington Post reports:
Despite emotional protests and fierce lobbying from gay rights groups, United Methodists voted on Thursday (May 2) to maintain their denomination’s stance that homosexuals acts are “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Two “agree to disagree” proposals were soundly defeated during separate votes by the nearly 1,000 delegates gathered for the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in Tampa, Fla.
Jim Antle at American Spectator notes that the heavily biased, left-wing reporting of the New York Times is downright laughable on this one:
The vote was 61 percent to 39 percent against the change to the church’s “Book of Discipline,” indicating little change to the deadlock on an issue the church has been debating for the last four decades. The delegates also defeated a compromise amendment proposed by the advocates of equality for gay members, which said that Methodists can agree to disagree on homosexuality and still live together as a church. [my bolding]
No, we are not laughing with you Grey Lady; we are definitely laughing at you! I wonder if Obama won by 61-39 in November if they would refer to that as a “deadlock”?
Antle also wonders if the denomination’s pro-abortion stance can be turned around by Evangelicals in the denomination.
The votes suggest a working majority coalition between orthodox African delegates and U.S. evangelicals. This has kept Methodists from going in the same liberalizing direction on social issues as the other mainline Protestant churches. It will be interesting to see if this coalition has the votes to yank the United Methodist Church out of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
It is nice to see the advocates of the secular, sexual revolution get rejected by Christians in favor of the Christian view for a change. Congratulations to the United Methodist Church!
Cross-posted at The Politics of the Cross Resurrected