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September 1, 2004
Important Pacific Northwest Evangelical Meeting

An announcement for Evangelicals from Rev. Gary Starkey of Westpark UMC, in Yakima, WA. follows

In preparation for the meeting (see information below), please read the “Options For The Future” document written by Good News Board Members Mark Dicken, Scott Field, Phil Granger, and Tom Lambrecht.   For further information, please see the News Release of Good News on August 26, 2004: http://www.goodnewsmag.org/news/083004Unity_Seperation.htm

September 1, 2004

News Hounds:

Amid all the other distractions and diversions of our lives we are planning ahead for our October meetings with SCOTT FIELD at Covington WA. You may be aware of the recent press release by the Good News Board regarding issues raised in discussion of amicable separation and the General Conference resolution on unity. Here's the report which appeared in UM Newscope (9-3-04):

• The Good News board of directors, meeting in Wilmore, Ky., Aug. 18-20, agreed to “explore the issues raised by the proposal for amicable separation and the resolution on unity during the 2004 General Conference” as a major emphasis for the next quadrennium. Scott Field, board chair and senior pastor of Wheatland-Salem UMC, Naperville, Ill., said this means practically “that we are beginning a careful and serious examination of the biblical, theological, historical, and organizational questions related to the possible future structure(s) and shape(s) of United Methodism.”

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS TO BE RAISED during our consultation with Scott Field, please respond. I am compiling a list for him.

A reminder of our schedule: Pastors only will meet Sunday, Oct. 3, 7:30 PM.

Monday Oct. 4 sessions are for pastors & laity together, at 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 7:00 PM. All meetings are at Cornerstone UMC, Covington WA, where Monday's lunch will be provided.

Cornerstone UMC is located on 272nd in Covington (eastside suburb of Seattle). Take Covington exit from SR 18 (which you can access from either I-5 or I-90). Go east on 272nd to church, on your left.

"She has done what she could..." Mark 14:8

Blessings...Gary Starkey

Gms2u@aol.com

 Note: Cornerstone UMC is located at 20730 SE 272nd. St., Covington, WA  98092.  The pastor at Cornerstone is Rev. Daniel Foster and the church phone number is 253-630-5868.  Following is a map from Yahoo! Maps, see the red star for the location.  Traffic in Seattle is heavy on work days, so plan for extra travel time if your route takes you through Seattle.  Go to the following site for help in directions to the church (click map):

 


April 19, 2004 News Release
by Cathy Bihler on behalf of the Steering Committee

The Steering Committee of The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church is compelled to speak out against the continuing egregious actions of the leadership of Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (PNWAC). 

In this instance, we refer to the recent PNWAC jury trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann which found her to be “not guilty” of charges even though she had professed guilt from the outset in a letter to the Bishop and Clergy of the PNWAC.  It was her self-initiated letter which precipitated the trial in the first place.  We do not attempt to summarize the trial here, but refer the reader to both of the following websites.  The first site listed contains eyewitness notes of the trial and the second is the archive news for United Methodist Church:

http://www.faithfulchristianlaity.org/discussion/viewtopic.php?t=80

http://umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=2&mid=3471

We concur with United Methodist Bishops Lindsey Davis and Mike Watson, who have stated:  We are profoundly disappointed in the recent church trial court decision in the Seattle area.  It is a clear sign of rebellion when a group chooses to flagrantly ignore The Discipline, substituting their own perspective for the corporate wisdom of the General Conference.”

The decision of the jury in the Dammann case is symptomatic of much deeper problems which must be addressed by the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2004.  Though we did not author the following letter, we fully agree with, endorse, and support the content.  We are endeavoring to make it available to the 2004 General Conference Delegates, all concerned United Methodists and Christians everywhere.


April 17, 2004 Easter Saturday

To our fellow United Methodists in the United States and the world,

We ask for your prayer - prayer for those of us in the Western Jurisdiction (and the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference In particular), for the ecumenical unity of the Church in truth, and for the upcoming General Conference (GC).

We are convinced that the 2004 GC in Pittsburgh will be decisive for the future of United Methodism in the United States. The GC will either deal firmly, decisively and faithfully with the spillover of the "culture wars" into the North American Church -- and with the UMC in particular - or we will deservedly die a painful death from our timidity and charitable half-measures.

Again, if we do not deal faithfully with this situation, this cancer will now quickly spread and eventually kill the rest of the body. We seriously wonder whether it is too late to deal with the crisis, especially since most people are currently fixated on the symptoms (e.g., the Sprague and Dammann court decisions) when the underlying spiritual, doctrinal and disciplinary causes of our malady are largely ignored or only lightly handled by The General Conference.  Indeed, we are now harvesting what has been sown for at least the last five or six decades.   Lamentably, we are now convinced it is too late to reverse the deeply entrenched heretical and schismatic tendencies in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference (PNWAC) -- and perhaps the whole Western Jurisdiction.

Those of you in other jurisdictions 'who think that the theological "liberals" among you can be trusted because they "make nice," have not taken with sufficient seriousness the danger in which you find yourselves. And make no mistake: you are in danger. We in the PNWAC have learned from painful and bitter experience what it is to be deliberately used, co-opted and betrayed -- all the while clergy leaders at the Annual Conference "levers of power" invoke the various names of their deities, and mouth the platitudes of diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance. If you remain even a little passive -- or are deceived by their facile and duplicitous assurances and "go along to get along" - so that you fail to clean and rightly order your own houses now, then you too will find yourselves surrounded by "colleagues" and "sisters and brothers in Christ" who think it their spiritual duty to shamelessly twist and desecrate the Gospel our Lord has entrusted to his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

We must finally accept the uncomfortable truth that those among us who have given themselves over to the obsessive promotion of homosexual practice as "good, right, holy and an occasion for thanksgiving to God" -- as well as those among the clergy who, as it were, "play fast and loose" with the revealed truth of God enshrined in the core articles of our Christian Faith -- are simply enemies of the cross of Christ.

Given what is now taking place in the larger North American culture, i.e., the advent of gay "marriage,” we do not think we have four more years to hope against hope that those who are determined to advance "the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered" and Unitarian agenda among us will relent and desist. They will not quit - they will not repent. They will not "be nice” but only make nice like "a cuckoo in the nest."

We ask you not to think that we have a choice between the continued flourishing of sub-Christian teaching and ecclesial division. Do not think that the sustained tolerance of what can only be called "heresy" will enable us to preserve unity and avoid schism in the United Methodist Church. Indeed, to tolerate doctrinal heresy and disciplinary laxity to thrive among us is to allow the growth of conditions that can only lead to schism.

It is as Richard John Neuhaus has noted, "When orthodoxy becomes optional it will soon be proscribed." That statement should be received as a prophecy, for that prophecy is now in danger of being fulfilled before our eyes.  Indeed, John Wesley's fears - stated so long ago -- have proved prescient: “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out."

We now find ourselves in the midst of our Western culture's headlong rush to invert the verities of God's revealed will for his creation. If we have any hope to "spread scriptural holiness over this land," we must now rediscover our Bibles, re-appropriate the classical creeds and our own doctrinal and liturgical standards, find our voice, and once again firmly proclaim the whole counsel of God on precisely those delicate topics we have avoided for unity's sake. Again, we will need to regain our grip on "the doctrine, spirit, and discipline" actually articulated by our General Conference.

The unhappy alternative is that what is now a defacto schism through the hearts and minds of many laity and not a few of our clergy will unquestionably become a rupture in which the clergy and laity who seek to be faithful to God in the Wesleyan tradition will be driven from the United Methodist Church by consciences that cannot abide with overt and willful apostasy among its clergy and episcopate.

Pray for spiritual discernment of God's truth and a holy courage to make the necessary but difficult decisions. Pray that the General Conference will together find the fortitude to follow the whole truth as it is in Jesus. Pray for the faithful laity of the splintered Church in North America ~ and especially of the United Methodist Church - that they (we) be awakened, renewed, patient and resolute in the face of the spiritual darkness in which we all struggle.


March 23, 2004

Eight clergy members of the Pacific Northwest Annual conference of the United Methodist Church met in Ellensburg, Washington today to begin the process of briefing and strategizing in response to the recent trial verdict of the Rev. Karen Dammann.  We gathered to share our pain and disappointment, and to discuss potential responses to the betrayal of covenant within our Annual conference.

We stand in solidarity with the National and Global United Methodist Church in its clear and unequivocal stance against the practice and validation of homosexuality.  We are stunned that our colleagues would blatantly ignore church law, both in its letter and its clear and unambiguous intent, and render a verdict that is in clear defiance of church law and scripture.

We celebrate and support the emerging witness of national and local voices that decry this move.  Among these voices are United Methodist Bishops Lindsey Davis and Mike Watson, who offered the following statement:

“The Discipline is the connecting covenant within our church.  We support the Discipline and on this issue [Homosexuality] we believe that the Discipline is clear.  We are profoundly disappointed in the recent church trial court decision in the Seattle area.  It is a clear sign of rebellion when a group chooses to flagrantly ignore The Discipline, substituting their own perspective for the corporate wisdom of the General Conference.  While we as Bishops have neither voice nor vote at General Conference, we call upon elected General conference delegates to go to Pittsburgh in April prepared to discuss this situation and to consider an appropriate response which will respect our connectional covenant.”

 After spending three hours in consultation, we agreed to the following points: 

  • We reaffirmed our deep love for and commitment to the United Methodist Church and our intent to remain in a covenant relationship with the larger church
  • We agreed that the United Methodist covenant to uphold and enforce church law has been broken.
  • We will continue to be in dialogue about potential action items for our response to this egregious breach of church law.
  • We will continue to consult with faithful United Methodist clergy and laity who celebrate this covenant and grieve over its fracture.
  • We will continue to consult with national leaders who are working with us regarding this crisis in broken covenant with the larger church.
  • We will be strategizing for upcoming conference gatherings, both national and local, to seek a return to faithful covenant expression and protection.
  • We will pray and seek faithfulness and integrity to the covenant both within our own lives and within our global church.

Seeking God’s Truth in a spirit of Love,

 

Rev. David Parker

Central United Protestant Church,

For the Ellensburg Gathering


February 1, 2003

Seattle, Washington

United Methodist Church Members Begin Uniting To Provide Faithful Christian Witness

For a number of years there has been growing concern by many United Methodist Church (UMC) Members over the increasing lack of moral, ethical, and sound doctrinal teaching, practices, and worship in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference (PNWAC). The UMC is a mainline Christian denomination founded on the basic tenets of the Christian faith and governed by its sacred Scriptures, historical Confessions of Faith, Book of Discipline and General Conference. However, many pastors and leaders in the PNWAC have failed to uphold and abide by the doctrines and laws of the Church. The Bishop, Cabinet, District Superintendents, Board of Ordained Ministry, Committee on Investigation, and others, have failed, either by choice or through ineffectiveness, to appoint pastors for many local churches who honestly agree with and teach Christianity in the Methodist tradition. In addition, when there are pastors who do not maintain the highest standards of holy living and/or disseminate doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the UMC, there has been little or no enforcement of obedience, which effectively condones their beliefs and behavior.

The lack of enforcement stated above negates, ignores, and violates the Book of Discipline. The failure of the PNWAC to enforce the Book of Discipline is seen by many as proof of unbelief in basic Christian Doctrines.

One symptom of the grave underlying problems concerning Scriptural authority and compliance with the Book of Discipline is the issue of homosexuality and how it affects the Christian. The UMC’s General Conference asserts that practicing homosexual acts are incompatible with Christian teaching. In addition, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates for ordination, ordained, or appointed to serve in the UMC.

The most flagrant lack of Discipline enforcement is the much publicized and open admission by Elder Mark E. Williams during the 2001 Annual Conference where he stated that he is a practicing homosexual. Yet, contrary to the Book of Discipline, Mark E. Williams is still appointed to and preaching in a local UMC in Seattle. This strongly suggests that the PNWAC is unable and/or unwilling to enforce the UMC’s clear moral standards of clergy conduct.

As a result, the Christian witness and reputation of the UMC is severely damaged.

Many local churches have lost members and/or financial support as a result of the inability and/or unwillingness of the PNWAC to discipline its pastors. Local churches continue to face internal conflict and turmoil over this and many other issues. Some have sought remedy from the PNWAC, but have found little or no support. Often members reach a point of such frustration or anger that they leave the church.

Believing God is calling UMC Laity to provide a Christian witness faithful to the Doctrinal standards and General Rules of the Book of Discipline, a few UMC members from the PNWAC have joined together identifying themselves as The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church (FCL).

FCL (Faithful Christian Laity) began meeting in the summer of 2002 and have now formed a Steering Committee, prepared their Mission Statement and their Unified Statement, which appear below in their entirety. The Steering Committee has identified and begun prioritizing issues that need to be addressed. They are formulating plans for action and are seeking other like-minded Christians to work together in the UMC toward the common goal of making Disciples of Jesus Christ in the Methodist tradition. Of high priority is establishing a means of easy communication and networking of laity throughout the local churches in the wide geographical area covered by the UMC. A future news release will provide some of these communications links.

On December 13, 2002, several members of the Steering Committee met with Bishop Elias Galvan. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce themselves to the Bishop, provide him with copies of the Mission and Unified Statements, to request his blessing for their efforts, and to pray with him as Bishop of the PNWAC.

THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN LAITY OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

MISSION STATEMENT

We, The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church, have joined together in love for God and for the United Methodist Church to help revive and maintain faithful Christian witness and service in our local churches and Annual Conferences. We provide meaningful avenues for faithful Christian lay voices to be heard and opportunities for action as a means to that end.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

— Ephesians 6:10-18, New International Version


THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN LAITY OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

UNIFIED STATEMENT

We, The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church (Faithful Christian Laity), believe in and affirm the United Methodist Church’s Articles of Faith, as written in ¶103 in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (Book of Discipline). We believe that the sacred Scriptures received through and from the early church, affirmed by the Protestant Reformation, and passed down to the United Methodist Church, is the inspired and authoritative witness for Christian life and doctrine. Like John Wesley, we believe that Bible is the “final authority in all doctrinal matters.” The Bible says that all have sinned, and all can be cleansed of their sin and reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We, as Christians, are called to “go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). This calls for repentance and an earnest desire to turn from a sinful life. We believe that “no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral” (Article VI of the Book of Discipline). We believe that we are called to sanctification, “that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in His holy commandments blameless.” Both the Holy Bible and the Book of Discipline (1 Timothy 3, and ¶304.3, respectively) call for church leaders to maintain the highest standard of holy living in the world.

We are greatly grieved by the failure of the appointed and elected leadership of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to uphold, first, God’s Holy Word and, secondly, the Book of Discipline, particularly with respect to holding all clergy accountable to the highest standards of holy living and sound doctrinal teaching. In addition, we are greatly grieved that because of our leaderships’ actions our entire denomination suffers from division, strife, and loss of members. Our witness for Jesus Christ has been poor and we, as an Annual Conference, have been ineffective at fulfilling the Great Commission.

Therefore, we, The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church, united in belief and as one body under the headship of our Lord Jesus Christ, do purpose to:

    1. Remain true to our calling to empower people to become transformed disciples of Jesus Christ to proclaim to each other, the community, and the world, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We are united in the desire to serve the poor, the hungry, the naked, the stranger and prisoner, focusing on others’ needs rather than our own. We will provide a sanctuary where the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are worshipped in holiness and where the saints are instructed in the ways of the Lord.

    2. Manage our internal affairs first according to the law of God as written in His Word, the Holy Bible, and secondly, to the laws of the United Methodist Church, as stated in the Book of Discipline;

    3. Work diligently to hold the leadership of the United Methodist Church accountable first to the law of God as written in His Word, the Holy Bible, and secondly, to the laws of the United Methodist Church, as stated in the Book of Discipline, relating to the performance of the duties of their appointed offices; and

    4. Actively seek out and partner with other like-minded United Methodist laity who support these same ideals and who will covenant with us in active opposition to any activity within the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church or the greater United Methodist Church that deviates from these laws.

We believe that God’s grace extends freely to all who would receive it and it is the responsibility of the church to minister to all who seek God without regard to age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. We stand firm in our belief that once justified through faith in Jesus Christ, the regeneration of the Holy Spirit calls to us to repent of our sins and reject the lifestyle choices that would keep us in bondage to sin, with sin clearly defined for us by God in the Bible. It is the responsibility of the church to gently lead those who would continue or fall back into sin after justification towards repentance. If the person is unrepentant, as evidenced by openly living a life contrary to God’s Word and fails to respond by private and group counsel of the Church (Matthew 18:15-17), we are commanded to expel the immoral brother (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). And when the immoral person has repented and responded to the “punishment by the majority” we will “forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

We further covenant among ourselves to not allow the rebellion and poor witness for Jesus Christ of our Annual Conference to distract us from our commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). To this end, we will strive to maintain and enhance the existing programs God has called us to and will boldly establish and support any new ministries we are called to begin by Him.

Signed,

The Steering Committee of The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church

David Battey, Snoqualmie, WA
Cathy Bihler, Edmonds
, WA
Kathy Cosner, Bremerton
, WA
Byron Fitch, Ritzville
, WA
Angel Manuel Fitzpatrick, Jr., Fairfield
, WA
Connie Gent, Burlington
, WA
Howie Schwend, Mill Creek
, WA
Don Shoemake, North Bend
, WA


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