Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I greet you in the strong name of Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who was, is, and is to come. The One who lived and died and rose again so that we may share in His victory over sin and death.
This letter is one that I hoped to not have to write but it’s become evident that someone needs to say these words to you. If no one else will, I will. The reason is simple: I love you all.
Seriously, I do. Do not agree with your choice to leave the United Methodist Church and to encourage others to follow you, but I also support you all in going in the way which you believe you are led to go. May you all continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ, may the love of Christ and the hope of resurrection be proclaimed, and may you and your congregations grow in grace, love, and in truth. My sincere hope is that we can all continue to be co-laborers for Jesus at the end of the day.
With that said (and know that this next statement does not apply to all of you): I do not agree with your tactics, the lies many of you are spreading, and the fear that is being sown. Your attempts at spiritual and other manipulation are sickening and. it pains me to know that many of you willingly and, perhaps, gleefully participate in these games. Lying is a sin and I urge you all to repent. Even if you believe that you’re building God’s kingdom, the end does not justify the means. Based on what I have seen and heard, here are some areas where I believe the GMC needs to come clean.
Admit that this was the plan from the start.
You can’t kid a kidder and you can’t con a con artist.
I told many friends of mine that, when the Wesleyan Covenant Association launched, a new denomination was also on its way. I was told repeatedly by WCA insiders that a new church was not in the works and that they had no such ambitions. One even told me – and yes this is a direct quote because I will never forget it – “We will stay. in the United Methodist Church until Jesus comes back.” (the person who said this to me is no longer involved in WCA/GMC because they realized they were being lied to) Well, here now we have the GMC, launched by people also involved with WCA. New denominations don’t just happen overnight, they take years of discernment and planning to launch. Just be honest and admit that this was the plan from the beginning of WCA. That much became clear to me quickly.
Stop the misinformation campaign
One of the main problems with politics today is that there is so much misinformation put out by campaigns, parties, and outside players, that it’s difficult to tell the truth from the lies. The biggest misfortune is that church folks seem to be keen on not only believing the political lies but also employing the tactics used on them. Especially the clergy, you all know that the United Methodist Church is not going to change to a doctrine that denies the divinity of Jesus, denies the trinity or any of the other fear-inducing claims some of you are making. Yes, there certainly are individual people within the UMC who hold such beliefs, but they are few and far between. It’s not uncommon for someone to make such a claim and when asked to name someone who said any of these things, they suddenly claim to feel attacked or otherwise can’t name anyone. Even if there was a movement within the UMC to change our articles of religion and confessions of faith, it’s next to impossible to do so because of the Restrictive Rules (again, this is something that should be common knowledge). This tells me that either people are intentionally misrepresenting the truth or that outsiders with no knowledge of UMC polity are being allowed to spread such rumors to benefit the GMC. Either way, it’s dishonest, disgusting, and sinful.
The doctrine issue is only one aspect subject to rumors and fear mongoring. Spreading rumors that churches are not being allowed to leave is dishonest as well. A pastor stood up during my annual conference’s gathering and claimed that there was an annual conference in Texas (I don’t believe he said which) that was not allowing churches to disaffiliate if they wished to do so. I know for a fact that this is not true as I have colleagues in Texas – in two different annual conferences – who are actually part of disaffiliation teams that their conferences send to assist churches that wish to leave. There may be pockets of resistance, sure, but it’s not widespread and is most certainly not the conspiracy that a lot of you are making it out to be. The claim that pastors are being told not to talk about disaffiliation if asked is also almost entirely not true (again, I’m not naive enough to believe that it doesn’t happen but such “intimidation” is not widespread). At the request of our general conference delegation, there will be gatherings throughout the state to discuss specifics related to disaffiliation, largely to dispel the rumors and fear mongering going around. Frankly, this should not be necessary but since GMC is not doing anything to discourage such fear mongering, it is.
Having worked in radio broadcasting and gaining extensive marketing experience as a result, I can spot a campaign when I see one. When different people are saying similar things and changing to a different topic at the same time, it’s intentional and straight out of a marketing playbook. GMC needs to stop this foolishness. I emphasize once again: Lying is a sin.
Stop claiming that those who remain in the UMC are unfaithful
More than once, me and colleagues who have expressed that we desire to remain in the UMC have been told that our souls are on the line. I’ve been called a false prophet, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and told that I’m leading my people straight to hell more times than I can count. Laity also have been told similar things. There are people truly telling others that, should they remain in the UMC, they are at risk of losing their salvation (I can’t help but notice that many of these comments come from anonymous trolls on various social platforms). This kind of spiritual manipulation is sickening and unloving. GMC needs to denounce this kind of behavior and actively work to stop it.
The bottom line: Show love.
Why is an organization that claims to be more faithful to the teachings of Jesus participating in such activities or allowing them to happen in their name? You’re either with Christ or against Him. You’re either trying to build His kingdom or one of your own making. If GMC is truly about Jesus and nothing more, they will see that truth wins out. To do otherwise is to be complicit in sin. My hope and prayer is that love and charity are shown. Brothers and sisters, stand for truth. Don’t stand for fear and manipulation. Any gains made through such means are ill-gotten and, well, scripture has plenty to say about that too.
Rev. Jonathan Tullos
Elder in Full Connection, Mississippi Annual Conference of the UMC