A House Divided

*This is a piece I wrote on May 13, 2013. I don’t know that there have been many times when I would say I have been “prophetic” but…


As part of #DreamUMC turning 1 year old, individuals have been encouraged to blog on one topic together. The topic is:

Is Schism the best future for The UMC? Why / Why not?

My guess is that I will be the odd-man out but that’s ok, hasn’t been the first time and won’t be the last I’m sure. Perhaps it will provide a different angle to an interesting conversation.

Historically The United Methodist Church has been on the forefront of pressing social issues, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries around issues such as the institution of slavery, the role of women in the Church and on through the Civil Rights era. This is not to say that we, by any means, have been perfect along the way. Our “walk” has not always followed our “talk.”

I’m wondering if once again The United Methodist Church has the opportunity to be an example on the issue of homosexuality, though perhaps not how you might guess. Is it possible The United Methodist Church could demonstrate what a graceful transition into a new denomination might look like? I’m not suggesting which “side” should chart a new course but rather if there is a way we might facilitate this, for either “side,” while demonstrating and living in the grace that is so foundational to our theology?

With the quickly approaching conference season of The UMC and the division that has become more apparent following General Conference on the issue of inclusivity, I can’t help but wonder if it is only a matter of time before one “side” or the other will leave due to its perspective on this issue. The words of Jesus come to mind, “a house divided against itself will fall” (Mthw 12:25; Mk 3:25; Lk 11:17). Under our current “united” structure, I believe the hurt will only become deeper as individuals continue to press the issue, an issue that will not be going away anytime soon. We all share the goal of “creating disciples for the transformation of the world,” but the longer we remain divided, the more energy we all spend away from this mission.

Would the creation of a new denomination free both “sides” to do ministry in the way they feel called, respectively? Could a graceful creation and transition into a new denomination alleviate the hurt? Or would it cause more? What might another resolution look like?

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts, I hope you feel welcome to share and brainstorm with me.

Matt LipanUMCComment