-A Guest Post by Bob Phillips*
- I did not join the WCA…because I hate gays, lesbians, liberals, Democrats, science, intellectuals or tofu eaters. Where there are two Methodists, there are three opinions. The UMC is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get. Church is tastier to God and to non-Christians when this freedom is affirmed. Wesley said, “At all opinions that do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.”
- I did not join the WCA…to create a pure church where impure people are excluded, or a ‘wheat church’ where the tares have been pulled. The One who came “not to call the righteous but sinners,” who warned us against fixating on splinters while ignoring logs, and who made clear God is his own weed-puller was pretty clear about this.
- I did not join the WCA …because our worst problem is the sex stuff and once we neatly kennel this pup, American Methodism will grow. Nearly every UM church that affirms or opposes same sex marriage shares this common quality. They are in decline. The “wicked problem” of our denomination (a technical term for a real, colorful and complicated mess) will not be fixed by the 2019 special General Conference or any action focused on any one problem.
- I did not join the WCA…because happiness is a known enemy, it’s fun to ‘round up the usual suspects,’ and the prophet Samuel had the most fun of his ministry when he “hewed Agag into pieces before the Lord.” Facebook commandos with incendiary remarks, energy poured into criticisms, questioning of motives or integrity, and definitions of success measured by how “we” flattened “they” waste spiritual energy and don’t honor God.
- I did not join the WCA…to snuggle in a ‘Bible-believing church’ that knows better than focus on ‘social gospel’ stuff best left to politicians. I pastor a church that decided, even before I arrived, to remain in the heart of the city, knowing that the biblical definition of a ‘regional church’ is one located where the poor can reach and attend. “Bible-believing Wesleyan Christianity” has produced a church that feeds tens of thousands of meals, tutors, provides summer sports for kids on the margin, partners with underserved schools for Fine Arts and mentoring support, offers the only faith-based ministry to AIDS-HIV patients with limited resources between Chicago and St. Louis, aligns with the Mexican consulate in Chicago to provide legal assistance to over 1,000 Mexican citizens each year, runs a free clinic, provides free clothing and supplies to hundreds of needy families…and all in the name of Jesus. And the church is doing is all because of its commitment to an unapologetic evangelical Wesleyan Christianity. Anything else falls under the judgment of Matthew 25:41. Look it up.
[Watch for a Companion Post: “I Joined the Wesleyan Covenant Association… for These Reasons”]
*Dr. Bob Phillips retired July 1, 2017, as Directing Pastor of First UMC, Peoria, Illinois. Bob is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Illinois, with advanced degrees from Asbury, Princeton and St. Andrews (Scotland). He retired with the rank of Captain as the senior United Methodist Chaplain in the US Navy in 2005.