The United Methodist Church is considering a new process for proposals given at General Conference for agenda items pertaining to the debate over the denomination's stance on homosexuality.
The Commission on General Conference, which plans the regular Church legislative gathering, proposed something called a "Group Discernment Process," according to Heath Hahn of the United Methodist News Service.
"Under the plan, the first stop of all sexuality-related petitions would not be legislative committees. Instead, all 864 delegates would review the petitions in small groups with no more than 15 members," reported Hahn. more >>
Hillary Clinton wants to be president of the United States, but what actually guides her? The only currently declared candidate for the Democratic ticket was raised in the Methodist tradition and continues to practice that faith today. Here are six interesting facts about Clinton's faith as it relates to her candidacy and personal life.
1) Clinton was raised in the First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Illinois, and wrote in her book It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us that "religion figures in my earliest memories of my family. Our spiritual life as a family was spirited and constant. We talked with God, walked with God, ate, studied and argued with God. Each night, we knelt by our beds to pray before we went to sleep."
After winning the presidential election in 1996, the Clintons attended Washington's Foundry United Methodist Church, and Hillary participated in a bipartisan prayer group for women. more >>
An interfaith statement defending marriage, conscience rights and religious liberty models authentic inter religious collaboration. Signed by Southern Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Anglican, Orthodox and Evangelical leaders, it declares:
It is in the best interests of the state to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement.
The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition. For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Government should protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges that their values imply hostility, animosity, or hatred of others. more >>
Two years ago a United Church of Christ congregation in Wisconsin was left in tatters when after discussing the possibility of promoting itself as open and affirming to homosexuals many of its members walked away. The issue has left what remains of the membership so rife with strife, a church leader who spoke with The Christian Post begged to remain anonymous.
Despite the culture wars over issues like homosexuality and the constant barrage of messages in mainstream media declaring conservative values outmoded however, research shows more American Christians prefer traditional values and identify as conservative rather than liberal.
Many scholars agree, according to the 2014 General Social Survey, that most Baptist denominations, Pentecostal ones, and the Church of God in Christ are among a doctrinally conservative group while Protestant denominations such as Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian are more doctrinally moderate or liberal. more >>
The media and corporate intimidation aimed at Indiana and Arkansas over their Religious Freedom Restoration laws has justifiably alarmed many Christians and other defenders of conscience rights. Laughably, histrionic critics of these laws are concerned about "discrimination." This word has become demagogically the equivalent of "communism" during the heated McCarthyite era. But communism was a real, murderous force that merited alarm. The contrived concern about "discrimination" has become mostly a rhetorical weapon of intimidation against traditionalist dissenters from secularist orthodoxy.
Ironically, the real victims of "discrimination" under the new cultural regime of intolerance are politically and economically uninfluential small business owners lacking the resources and connections of their elitist opponents who wish to squash them and silence their faith convictions.
Some wonder if the culture war against religious traditionalists will amplify until any meaningful public dissent from the dictates of liberal secular elites becomes socially and economically impossible, even when legally protected in theory. Are we witnessing America's religious and speech freedom perishing before our eyes? Possibly, but there needs to be perspective. Religious and speech liberty has never been free from threats, even in America during its best times. The Constitution protects both, but the Founders had no illusions that written law would guard against lynch mobs, whether real or virtual. Protecting freedom requires constant vigilance. more >>
Len Wilson helpfully took the time to compile a list of the 25 fastest-growing large U.S. United Methodist congregations.
Growth was measured in terms of changes in average worship attendance from 2008 to 2013, the last year for which such statistics he found readily available. For Wilson's purposes he was only focused on "large congregations," defined as those having at least 1000 people in average weekly attendance (AWA).
Focusing on any one metric is always open to the critique of not painting a completely full picture. But as Wilson notes: more >>