Institute on Religion and Democracy
UMACTION RESPONDS TO UNITED METHODIST REPORTER
By Chairman David Stanley and Executive Director Mark Tooley
At its October 1998 meeting, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society approved a statement criticizing UMAction, the United Methodist committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. (Two Board members voted "no.") The Board claimed a September 21, 1998 letter from UMAction was "deceptive," but did not specify any deception or inaccuracy.
The Board also called UMAction "secular" even though all 12 members of UMAction's Steering Committee are long-time active, United Methodists.
The United Methodist Reporter (UMR), in an October 23 editorial, alleged four "significant inaccuracies" in our letter. We are glad to respond to the UMR's claims:
We agree with UMR that the General Conference is responsible for allowing this situation to exist. This is why UMAction is asking the next General Conference to abolish the Board of Church and Society, to stop the damage it is inflicting on the church we love.
UMAction proposes to replace the failed Board with a Wesleyan social witness that reflects the informed consciences of United Methodists. We call for rewriting the "Social Principles" with local church involvement. Our church's social witness should (1) unite Christians rather than divide us; (2) produce real action that helps needy people; (3) focus on key issues where there is a clear Biblical, Christian position; (4) emerge from local United Methodist churches rather than national church agencies; (5) keep the church out of partisan politics; and (6) refuse to let any political faction (left-wing, right-wing or other) use the church to promote its agenda.
For a copy of UMAction's September 21, 1998 letter, or for more information about UMAction, write or call
UMAction 1521 16th Street Street NW Washington DC 20036 202-986-1440 202-986-3159 fax e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement of The General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church
October 3, 1998
In the meeting of the General Board of Church and Society, October 1-4, 1998, board members were presented a September 21, 1998 letter written by David Stanley, Chairman, and Mark Tooley, Executive Director, of "United MethodistAction, the United Methodist Committee of the Institute for Religion and Democracy " (IRD). Contrary to what this name suggests, this group is not an official organization of The United Methodist Church. It is a privately funded, self-appointed, secular lobbying group based in Washington, DC that attacks the Bible-based, prophetic efforts officially authorized by the General Conference.
As the officially elected members and staff of the General Board of Church and Society, we are engaged in ministries mandated by the General Conference on behalf of The United Methodist Church. As such, we challenge the deceptive claims in the September 21, 1998 letter. We particularly decry the efforts of United MethodistAction to discredit the financial campaign to renovate the United Methodist building in Washington, DC, and thereby undermine the church's stewardship of a unique United Methodist treasure.
We affirm that it is our responsibility as The General Board of Church and Society to implement the actions and decisions of General Conference assigned to this agency, and we call on all United Methodists to reject IRD's efforts to undermine the Board which is duly elected to provide oversight in our mandate, stated in the Book of Discipline 1996 as follows: "The purpose of the board shall be to relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the members of the Church and to the persons and structures of the communities and world in which they live. It shall seek to bring the whole of human life, activities, possessions, use of resources, and community and world relationships into conformity with the will of God. It shall show the members of the Church and the society that the reconciliation that God effected through Christ involves personal, social, and civic righteousness." (Par. 1002)
The Discipline further mandates: "The prime responsibility of the board is to seek the implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements of the General Conference on Christian social concerns. Furthermore, the board and its executives shall provide forthright witness and action on issues of human well-being, justice, peace, and the integrity of creation that call Christians to respond as forgiven people for whom Christ died." (Par. 1004)
We believe that by God's grace we are being faithful to the mandate given us as Christians and as elected stewards of this ministry of The United Methodist Church. We invite genuine and honest dialogue about the ways we as Christians live out our faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Charles Wesley Jordan, President