Did I hear you say that you felt tremors vibrating a bit and the ground under your feet seemed to shake very unnaturally in the western part of Pennsylvania? And you are curious as to what is going on, since the earth shaking has been mostly limited to the western coast line of the U.S. on previous occasions.
Well, it's all about something erupting in the W. PA Conference of the United Methodist Church. A letter was sent out from a group simply identified as a group of concerned United Methodist Lay Persons. There would have been a bit more credibility if at least some would have signed their names.
Allegations in the letter centered on 3 persons holding prominent positions within the W. PA Annual Conference of the UMC. The clergy are the Rev. William Meekins and the Rev. David Morse. The lay person is Mr. Tracy Merrick who is a prominent leader in Bishop Thomas Bickerton's pet project, the "Believe Again" campaign, with expectations that the W. PA Conference will be resurrected and do great things in the future.
The issue centers on the position these 3 take in regard to the practice of sodomy and lesbianism. The allegations claim that the above named clergy were among a group which wore armbands at last year's annual conference that symbolized a protest against the UMC's refusal to ordain homosexual persons for ministry.
It is no secret that there are those within the confines of the conference who are sympathetic toward the homosexual/lesbian agenda being pushed on all church groups. And within W. PA there has been the initiation of "dialog" sessions between those who are pressing the homosexual/lesbian agenda and those who claim to be "evangelical" with very "positive" and "glowing" reports coming forth from these sessions. Mr. Tracy Merrick has been a part of this activity and the allegation in the circulated letter states his sympathy toward those who practice same-gender coupling.
Tracy is chairperson of the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee at First United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh. It is a church which has clearly gone on record that it is an "inclusive" church -- this means acceptance of those who practice sodomy and lesbianism with no expectation of these repenting of their sins as would be expected of others who are in some other kind of destructive life style, such as a practicing adulterer or a person who sexually molests children, etc.
The church's pastor, Bob Wilson, has posted his displeasure with Judicial Council Decision 1032 which ordered reinstatement of a pastor who had denied membership to a man who refused to repent of his practice of sodomy. Bob's statements can be read at Bob Wilson's Response to JD 1032
You can visit First UM's web site at First UMC - Pittsburgh PA. There you will see the evidence that if a person is in a practicing lifestyle involving sodomy or lesbianism, one can still be a "Christian" all the while -- it's quite OK -- we just need to eliminate the barriers which keep these people from legally marrying and participating in the church, including ordination into the ministry!
Since Tracy Merrick holds the important position of being chairman of the PPR Committee, it must be assumed that he is in agreement with his pastor and the stated position of the church on the issue of same-gender coupling.
Bishop Bickerton, true to form, fired off a letter in response to the one circulated by the group of concerned lay persons. And as one would expect, he vigously defended the 3 who had been singled out by name in the offending letter. But that could have been predicted since he was one of the entire group of active UM bishops who cried "Foul!" in response to Judicial Council Decision 1032!
Translated into simple terms -- the UMC bishops are saying that anyone who wants to become a member of the UMC should be taken into membership and that includes persons who practice sodomy! That was the issue that got Ed Johnson into trouble in the VA Conference -- the man who wanted to become a member of Ed's church was practicing sodomy and refused to repent of his sin, so Ed would not receive him into the membership -- and guess who the bad guy was in this -- Ed Johnson whom Charlene Kammerer and clergy members of her conference tried to hang!
The UMC bishops are giving increased evidence that they expect pastors to march in lockstep to their edicts without question -- the crisis occurs when there are those few pastors who still hold to strong Biblically based convictions and insist on marching to the beat of a very different Drummer -- Ed Johnson proved to be one such pastor!
The pressure continues to build for full acceptance of practicing sodomites and lesbians into the life and ministry of all church groups -- those of us who are labeled narrow, mean-spirited, bigoted, close-minded, homophobic, etc. are expected to accept that with absolutely no mention made that this is an abominable lifestyle which calls for repentance!
Look for more tremors in the times ahead, especially as we are heading toward General Conference 2008 which will be held in Texas. Lay and clergy delegates will be elected this year, and you can count on one thing -- battle plans have been well put together by this time on the part of those who are trying to convince us that there is nothing wrong with 2 men or 2 women engaging in sexual intimacy with each other, getting married, adopting children, and being actively involved in a church!
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!--- Isaiah 5:20
You have wearied the LORD with your words; yet you say, "In what way have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them," or, "Where is the God of justice?" --- Malachi 2:17