Why We Need an Independent United Methodist Press

This link will take you to a  well done article that summarizes the relevant details of the Bishop Bledsoe episode and also examines the exorbitant costs. Bishop Bledsoe’s response to the costs? “It is what it is . . . Obviously that money could have been used for other things. I’m not so sure, given the realities of the situation, it could have been any different.” My first response, “Oh yes, yes it could have.” My second response: This article is an example of simply superb reporting by journalist Sam Hodges, who was until Thursday, May 31, 2013, the Managing Editor of…

Judicial Council Decisions: The Emperor Has No Clothes

The United Methodist Church cannot be re-formed. It’s over for us with our current structure. The Judicial Council’s decision to revoke the involuntary retirement of Bishop Earl Bledsoe over issues of violation of procedural minutia found in the Book of Discipline (not over the question of his effectiveness, which was not being ruled upon) has forever made this clear. It is over. It’s easy to get frustrated with the Judicial Council for the rulings of the last few months. Their work has thoroughly reversed decisions made by General and Jurisdictional Conferences. However, I think that would be a mistake. They’ve done the United Methodist…

Time For This To End: Bishop Bledsoe’s Decision to Appeal

Will this never end? That’s what I asked myself upon hearing the not unexpected news that Bishop Bledsoe has filed an appeal to have his involuntary retirement overturned so he may return to active episcopal leadership.  Full details of the appeal can be found here.  The document flows with legalese, of course, littered with words and phrases like “unconstitutional, unlawful, violates, lack authority, failed, Bishop Bledsoe deprived, lacks jurisdiction.” Jesus Has Left the Building No where in there do we have words or phrases like, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you, serving the lost, feeding the sheep,…

Further Reflections on Bishop Bledsoe and the Nature of Grace

The Nature of Grace I’ve got the whole concept of grace heavy on my mind today.  In a world held together by a gracious God, I am more and more aware that we don’t always receive what we want and never receive what we deserve. Others have written eloquently about this subject, particularly Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ,”  and Philip Yancey, “God dispenses gifts, not wages. None of us gets paid according to merit, for none of us comes close…

Administration and Spirituality: A False Dichotomy

Spiritual Maturity and Administrative Skills In the controversy over the decision to involuntarily retire Bishop Bledsoe, Mr. Don House, chair of the evaluation committee, said, . . . the committee was aware of “great things” in the North Texas Conference, and praised Bishop Bledsoe as “a gifted man, a dedicated Christian man in the church.” But he said the committee acted in the interest of the denomination. “We need excellent administrative skills, and that’s the primary motivation behind this – the health of the church,” he said. “Although Bishop Bledsoe has excellent skills in many areas, we were concerned about some of his administrative…

The Impossibility of Proving a Negative; Why Metrics Don’t Work As Evaluative Tools

The Taunt “Scaredy cat, scaredy cat!” “Am not!” “Prove it!” The classic playground exchange: one child makes a pejorative accusation of another, the second denies the charge, and the first one says, “Prove what I just said isn’t true.” And child number two is now put in the impossible situation.  For there is no way to prove to the first child’s satisfaction that he or she is indeed not a “scaredy cat.” Let’s try another example, and I write this knowing the illustration can be called “sexist.” However, since I’m a woman, and it reflects poorly on womankind, I’ll take the risk:.…

Why It Matters: The Episcopal Situation in the North Texas Conference

Jeffrey Weiss, a reporter with the Dallas Morning News, has asked these questions concerning the episcopal situation facing the North Texas Conference:  “Why does this matter? And to who? Clearly, it’s a big deal to North Texas Methodist clergy. But who else should be paying attention? And why?” Here is my response: Does this Episcopal situation matter to anyone besides the United Methodist clergy? Three Levels On one level, and speaking on a short term time frame, no, not really. We clergy and the members of the churches we serve are the only ones who experience anything directly. Even then, it will…

The Language of Power and Pentecost: Bishops, Clergy and Gardens

Note:  this is part of a larger body of writing I am currently working on with the theme of “The Sustainable Church” which is an extended metaphor of church as garden.  I believe what I am learning has important applicability to the current situation in the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. How do plants communicate with the gardener that something has gone wrong?  What means do they use to let the one with authority over them, i.e., the gardener, gain awareness of their health, their diseases, their thirsts and their floods? This question strikes me as I ponder the…

Fight Like the Devil and The North Texas Annual Conference at a Distance

I had been formally excused from attendance at the North Texas Annual Conference this year because of my sabbatical leave, but decided to watch as much of it as I could by livestream and to keep up otherwise by twitter and blog posts. Powerful reports filtered in of great worship, strong youth leadership, renewed energy, hope, connection and collegiality.  The Nehemiah team did a great job presenting options for new delivery models as they held to the essential mission of the Annual Conference.  Church plants are adding many new people to worship and the reports about Owen Ross and the Christ Foundry…