What do United Methodists expect from their bishops?

Thirty-three retired United Methodist bishops issued a public statement calling for the denomination to drop its belief that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. As the president of the Council of Bishops, Bishop Larry Goodpaster issued a statement to assure United Methodists that the council was “committed to living within the covenant defined by our Book of Discipline” and he also called for “thoughtful, prayerful dialogue about sensitive and challenging issues….We call this holy conferencing.”

The Rev. Rob Renfroe, President and Publisher of Good News, supports the historic United Methodist position on ordination and human sexuality. What follows is a response to the statement released by Bishop Goodpaster.

Good News is grateful for Bishop Goodpaster’s statement in response to thirty-three retired Bishops’ recent call to change the church’s position regarding the practice of homosexuality. His assurance that the Council of Bishops is committed to living within the covenant defined by our Book of Discipline is comforting. However, what the people in the pews want to know is not that our Episcopal leaders will live with our present statement; we want to know that they believe in our position, will defend it and promote it for what it is—a balanced, biblical and gracious offer of sexual wholeness to a broken world.

Every single General Conference debates and discusses the issue. And every single General Conference arrives at the same conclusion. It is the consensus of the United Methodist Church, representing the outgrowth of prayer and holy conferencing.

It is perplexing that there has never been a concerted effort by any group of Bishops to defend and promote our well-thought out and scriptural view on the most controversial issue before the church. The only organized episcopal voices we ever hear come from those bishops who would overturn the church’s position—bishops who themselves once would have agreed to live “within the covenant defined by our Book of Discipline.”

The United Methodist Church is crying out for spiritual leaders who will defend the church’s traditional beliefs. And if those who would change our positions do so in an organized way, it is time for those who believe in the historic position of the Church and the current position of the United Methodist Church to do the same.

Good News magazine, P.O. Box 150 , Wilmore, KY 40390