The UMC and Chock full o’ Nuts

There is a coffee brand called “Chock full o’ Nuts”.  I had heard of it before and had seen it on the store shelves, but I had never purchased the brand or paid too much attention to it.  Then then we got some Chock full o’ Nuts coffee in our food pantry.  I found myself with a can in my hand and began to wonder about the name.  Had I been ten years old, I would have naturally thought it was a can of nuts.  Even as I type this, I almost seem to recall seeing this as a youngster and thinking it was a can of nuts.  But I am no longer a child.  I know it is coffee with an unfitting name.  So with the can in my hand in the food pantry I noticed the back of the can and in big letters it said, “No Nuts”.  It went on to describe the company history of selling nuts, then selling nuts and coffee, then only coffee which they have done for the past eighty years.  Finally at the bottom of the can it explains they just like the name so they kept it.

They just liked the name, even though it was no longer representative of their product.  That is exactly where I see the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church is not united. The name is not an accurate representation of the product.  Sunday the WV Annual Conference finished their business and worship.  A former bishop of the conference was celebrating the progressive voting victory on his Facebook page.  The dozens of comments were applauding his applause for the progressive delegates coming out of our conference to vote in next year’s general conference, which will decide again the church’s official stance on gay marriage and gay ordination.*  Every comment was affirming his proud progressive proclamation of the direction of the church.  I would love to have written a comment on his post, but my voice would not have been welcomed in that echo chamber.  Even writing this blog post, I am trying to be careful so as not to hurt anyone with my words or get myself in trouble with the UMC hierarchy.  (It is also my opinion that only the traditionalists need to worry about voicing their thoughts.)

There is plenty of information out there about the 2019 general conference.  Chris Ritter has compiled links you can explore by clicking here.  I do not usually read all the way through long blog posts so I want to begin to wind this one up.  The former WV bishop also said he did not believe we were facing schism.  I disagree.  The UMC is already in schism, albeit it not in an official capacity.  The progressive part will not give up until gay marriage is permitted and the traditional part can not remain within a denomination that permits gay marriage.  Most of the traditionalist I know want an amicable separation.  I no longer pray for unity:  And if I should be praying for that, Lord, forgive me.  Instead I pray for mercy.  I pray for grace.  I pray that we will be fair and just to each other, not making it a winner take all competition based on who can outwit, outlast, and outplay.  I pray that we would not make one side winners and one side losers.  There is too much at stake.  And I do not necessarily mean the billions of dollars in property and money.  I mean how we treat each other when we face irreconcilable differences.  The way we separate can be our witness to the world.  Can we not do so in love?

 

*It is of my opinion that the issue dividing the church is much deeper than marriage, actually going to the core of the authority of Scripture and Jesus as the sole means of being made right with God.

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2 Responses to The UMC and Chock full o’ Nuts

  1. Hart says:

    In my humble opinion (and I’m not a coffee connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination…but I do enjoy coffee), Chock Full O Nuts is the best coffee out there!

    I also fully agree with the perspective you’ve offered in this post. I’m a retired pastor…we’ve been worshiping in our local UMC for almost 10 years now and really enjoy it. I pastored in United Church of Christ congregations years for 35 years and watched the denomination eat itself alive…saw the same thing happen in the denomination of my childhood, the Disciples of Christ, as well as with the Presbyterians, ELCA, Episcopalians, etc. We joined with the Methodists partly because our theology is Wesleyan. But also because we ‘hoped’ the UMC had its act together on controversial subjects more than the UCC and others did. Since February I’ve been hoping the UMC can manage to do what the others have totally failed to do…offer a witness to the Church about how Christ followers can gracefully face into our deepest — and even irreconcilable — divisions, separate with dignity and purpose, and everyone can bless and support everyone else.

    The jury, of course, is still out. But the more I see and hear from the ‘progressive’ leadership of the UMC, the more it looks to me like the same self-destructive “we will win” attitudes I recognize all too well from the UCC and Disciples leadership in years past. As far as they are concerned, they DID win — hate-filled bigots like me left — and they now exuberantly offer what they consider to be their ‘prophetic witness.’ They don’t seem to notice…or perhaps it’s that they don’t care…very few are listening or following.

    The UMC doesn’t have to go down that same road of self-destruction, but it sure looks to me like a lot of people are thinking that’s the right path.

    Thanks for your comments.

  2. Gary S says:

    Thanks for your post. More Traditionalists should be talking. I don’t think the church can dump 2000 years of normative Christian teaching without harming itself to the core. If the church follows the road taken by the liberal Protestant lump, we’ll surely suffer the consequences of a foolish love. “When natural things look most divine, the demoniac is just around the corner” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, page 131).

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