Do Churches’ actions warrant leaving?
May 2, 2019
Recently, several Christian denominations have undergone changes in policy and scandals that go against the beliefs of many of their members. The Methodist Church recently passed a movement condemning homosexuality, and the Catholic Church has come under fire for abuse of nuns and children. Members of the two denominations provide their perspectives on the issues and how they plan on reacting.
Methodist church wrongfully votes to oppose gay marriage and clergy
A general conference was held from February 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri that ultimately voted to uphold the current stance in The Book of Discipline, which constitutes the law of the United Methodist church.
“No part of The Book of Discipline generates more controversy than its teachings on homosexuality,” Guilford College United Methodist pastor Matt Smith said. “The Discipline tries to strike a moderate position. It begins by affirming that all people are of sacred worth and United Methodists are called to be in ministry with all people.”
The teachings are decided upon every for years at the general conference by all Methodists , from the ones in Africa, to the ones in the United States.
“The general conference is the supreme authority of the church,” Smith said. “We have bishops who interpret The Book of Discipline, but this is the only group who speaks with authority.”
There were three options up for discussion– The Traditional Plan, The One Church Plan, and The Connectional Conference Plan.
The Traditionalist Plan, which is the one that passed, requires every annual conference to enforce the ban on performing gay marriages and ordaining ministers who are gay.
The One Church Plan states that no bishop, congregation, or pastor is forced to act contrary to their convictions.
The Connectional Conference Plan would replace the denomination’s five current U.S. jurisdictions with three “connectional conferences.” The present geographical jurisdictions would be given the opportunity to identify with a conservative, centrist, or progressive connectional conference. If a church doesn’t want to follow its connectional conference, it would have the freedom to join another.
“Some were heart broken and some were relieved when the plan passed,” Smith said. “Hopefully we can be kind and loving even when we don’t agree.”
I was baptized in the Methodist church as well as my mom, brother and grandpa. But, sometimes, change is necessary. With this issue dear to our hearts, my mom and I have chosen to explore new denominations of Christianity, ones more inclusive to all people. We believe that if someone is called to serve, he or she should not be prevented from doing so solely based on sexuality. Marriage also should be based on love and discriminating against couples who have already faced challenges is not the way to spread Jesus’ teachings. Some churches are more supportive of liberal views which is why my mom and I have decided to leave the Methodist church.
Catholic abuse scandals should not define the Church
I’ve grown up in the Catholic Church, I was baptized when I was five months old. I attended faith formation classes for as long as I can remember, and I have received the Eucharist. My parents also gave me the choice to be Confirmed, to choose a different religion or to choose not to be religious at all.
I chose to be confirmed.
Since I’ve grown up in the church, I don’t know a lot about other churches, but I still feel Catholicism is what I believe in. Despite the saddening occurrences with the abuse of nuns and children within areas of the church, I don’t see it as a reason to remove myself from the church.
The unfortunate abuse of power within the church does not define Catholicism as a whole. As well, the Catholic church is not the only place it happens; it happens in schools, workplaces, in other organized religions and more. It’s an abuse of power within a large institution. It is horrible that it happens, but everyone must work towards a solution to prevent these horrific occurrences from happening again everywhere.
People may think I’m some horrible person for defending my religion, but what others may view my religion as is not what it is to me.
I chose to be Confirmed for many reasons. Not only did I choose it to be confirmed because I agree with most of the beliefs of my church, but also my church has such a strong community. It is more than Jesus and me– it is Jesus and us. We spend time together in prayer, at masses, at communal dinners, in classes, youth groups and so much more. With such a universal church that accepts everyone– no matter their race, language, culture, economic status or for some churches, their sexual orientation or gender– it should not be defined by horrible people.
I will not let those who abuse their power and go against the Word of God change or alter my faith. As I have grown up, my faith has only strengthened.