A commentary on 'A Call to Repentance,' Lakeland Ledger article



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

12-13-2005

When given the opportunity to respond to a bishop's words, it is always undertaken with fear and trembling. Every pastor in this conference answers to the bishop. I am sure that is why there are not more critical responses. Thus, the lack of criticism breeds a notion that the bishop is right. When, in fact, manny people are just afraid to speak up. One could argue the merits, or lack thereof, of the war backwards and forwards. I am sure I don't have the space to refute every point of Bishop Whitaker's comments, and there are some I agree with. For the fact is, bishops get the attention and notice, so their voice is heard as speaking for all United Methodists whether true or not. My biggest problem with these controversial positions in a politically charged nation is that it turns so many people off to the United Methodist Church. After all, is our primary mission, as we have been reminded over and over lately, to reach people for Christ or to make people Republicans or Democrats? When we ask why our membership numbers continue to decline, can we not ask honestly and deeply whether or not our self-righteous social and politcal stands turn off people and at the very least distract us from the primary mission? Or are we too assured of our own "rightness" to even consider that many of the people we serve in Florida may legitimately and genuinely believe differently? I am afraid that perception is reality, and a political stand such as this creates a certain perception of The United Methodist Church, which may not be conducive to bringing people into our churches.

James Renault
First United Methodist Church, Dade City




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