LETTER TO THE EDITOR: I have not misrepresented facts

Recently several United Methodist pastors and a district lay leader accused me of misrepresenting the facts of a petition passed by the WNCC in 2019 in a letter to the editor of The Stanly News & Press. They claim it’s false that the petition in question declares the traditional position of the church to be “evil, unjust, and oppressive.” Instead, they seem to argue that the statement about resisting evil, injustice and oppression is a general statement taken from the baptismal vows without referent to the traditional position of the UMC (still the official position).

While it is true that the statement about resisting evil, injustice and oppression is from the baptismal vows, it is also true that the petition obviously applies that vow to “resisting the implementation of the traditional plan.” The petition also says the traditional plan, which reaffirmed and reinforced the traditional position of the UMC, “continues and amplifies the harm already done to LGBTQIA+ United Methodists and their families.” Moreover, it denounces the traditional plan as being “inconsistent with the gospel” after which it vows “to resist the implementation of the traditional plan.”

I have not misrepresented the facts. The fact is the baptismal vow to resist evil, injustice and oppression was clearly applied to the traditional position of the church. The petition makes it clear that those who ascribe to it also believe the traditional position had already done harm before it was reaffirmed and reinforced in the traditional plan adopted by the 2019 General Conference.

It is this kind of sophistry and slander, like that put forward by these UM pastors and lay leader in The Stanly News & Press, that has destroyed trust and created debilitating dysfunction in the UMC.

Many of us had prayed and hoped that we could do better by being honest about our differences and working out an amicable separation. I’m still praying.

The truth is the language in the UM Next petition makes it reasonable to conclude that traditional views will not be respected by leaders in the continuing UMC. At best, traditional views will be tolerated only for a while because in them progressives obviously see harm.

Traditionalists, however, believe there is healing, help, hope and transforming grace for all who trust in Jesus and his holy word.

Rev. Dr. Cliff Wall
Harmony