By Jane Bonner*
The Rev. Rob Renfroe, President and Publisher of Good News**, spoke to the Annual Breakfast gathering of the Eastern Pennsylvania Evangelical Connection on June 14,, during the Eastern PA Annual Conference. Bishop Peggy Johnson and her husband, Rev. Michael Johnson, attended, along with District Superintendents Steve Morton and Bumkoo Chung.
Renfroe’s subject, “Is there a Future for United Methodism?” addressed this pressing question and related the unpleasant process through which the delegations of 2016 and 2019 traveled to arrive at the selection of the Traditional Plan for the global church.
He revealed the little-known fact that leaders on both sides of the theological divide had agreed that the denomination was headed for a split and that they wanted to work together to make it as painless and amicable as possible. However, he said, they submitted themselves to the Council of Bishops, who encouraged support for another path, the One Church Plan. That plan failed to garner enough votes at the Special General Conference in February, while the Traditional Plan was advanced and approved by a majority of votes.
Renfroe shared the story of a former alcoholic who posted a sign on the inside of his front door which read, “Yes, it was that bad!” Each morning when he left he was reminded of the horrors his addiction had visited upon him, and he remembered how bad it had been. We, too, should take caution, he said, when we consider battling it out at the next General Conference and remember, “It was that bad!”
Members of the Renewal Coalition no longer wish to subject the church to another such turbulent and strident General Conference, said Renfroe. For that reason, the goal of Good News and others is to seek a peaceful separation wherein no one is dishonored or harmed further. That separation, he explained, should perhaps be into three different denominations that will release one another to follow their conscience and integrity as they follow the Lord.
*Jane Bonner, a leader of the Eastern Pennsylvania Evangelical Connection, is also Convener of the Northeast Jurisdictional Evangelical Connection.
**Good News is a national organization committed to the doctrinal integrity and spiritual renewal of The United Methodist Church. The Rob Renfroe is also Pastor of Discipleship at The Woodlands UMC in Houston, Texas, and the author of four books. He has been committed to the reform and renewal of the UMC for 20 years, working to keep the denomination faithful to its scriptural heritage.