These conversations are not statements of our doctrine as expressed in the Book of Discipline, nor are they guidance provided by the Study Commission on Doctrine (SCOD), but they are intended to be open and respectful discussions on various present-day topics. Our intention is not to limit discussion but to elevate it by assuring that God’s love and respect is always expressed. For more information click ABOUT.
GENDER WAGE GAP

GENDER WAGE GAP

April 6, 2017 By dwayman

Due to our FMC value of treating men and women with equality, some of this generalized study of the pay gap may not apply.  However, there is much that does.  Here is the conclusion of the article:

“Finding church-wide solutions

In that vein, Simmons encourages churches to intentionally include women in those committees and councils and denominational efforts. “If they have a diaconate, another board, a finance board, board of elders—make sure that there are women who are part of the human resource effort,” she says. “Make sure that there are women there who can make the case: not women who will agree with the men, but women who will make the case. . . . You don’t see enough women in those positions that determine salaries and bonuses and work hours and how you get ordained. You don’t see women in those positions. And until that changes, much of this will never change.”

According to Simmons, another key step in the path to change concerns awareness and discussion among male clergy and staff—not just female. “You have to do both,” she says. “You have to talk to women, but you certainly have to talk to men.”

In her interactions with male pastors, Simmons has “help[ed] them understand what is just, what is fair, and—when their budget increases—who to take care of first, because these are the people who are doing the heavy lifting.”

Ultimately, however, “until women are willing to join the fight for their own liberation and proper pay,

BT Roberts OPEN OPPOSITION TO ALL WRONG and INJUSTICE

BT Roberts OPEN OPPOSITION TO ALL WRONG and INJUSTICE

April 5, 2017 By dwayman

In 1860 our Free Methodist founder, Benjamin Titus Roberts, wrote in the April EARNEST CHRISTIAN that:

Open opposition to all wrong and injustice is another element of Scriptural righteousness. Many who will not do wrong themselves will countenance it, at least indirectly, in others. This is usually the first step in a loss of virtue. They who, for the sake of party interest, personal relationship, or any other cause, is silent when they should reprove, will soon apologize for, then justify, then approve, and, if occasion serves, perpetuate the wrong from which, at first, their moral sensibilities revolted. 

Often as we live our blessed lives due to Christ’s work in us, we can live in that blessing without speaking out against the injustice and wrong so prevalent in our day.  These convicting words, written 157 years ago, remind us that Christ calls  us to an active participation in bringing justice and mercy to our world.

Our 2015 Free Methodist Book of Discipline says it this way:

¶3221       Worth of Persons

We are committed to the worth of all humans regardless of gender, race, color, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.

The  Old  Testament  law  commands  such  respect  (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

CELIBACY and SINGLENESS

CELIBACY and SINGLENESS

April 5, 2017 By dwayman

Celebrating and Supporting the Lifestyle and Gifts of Celibacy and Singleness

By: Cameron Shepherd Beyenberg

Identity and Isolation

On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States of America (SCOTUS) decided with a 5-4 split decision that same-sex couples can legally and civilly marry in each state throughout the nation. While this decision stimulated a celebration amidst the LGBTQ community, it has prompted a dramatic reaction from the Church in America as well. For those denominations and congregations that have not sided with this ruling, the conversation has been difficult to say the least. Some have written articles of warning to the Church declaring that if they do not make the right steps, same-sex couples will attack them with lawsuits.1 Others have written ways to explain that although these congregations and religious bodies who do not believe in same-sex marriage are safe, that the decision is a spiritual attack on the American Church.2

With all of this stated the foundation of the conversation seems to be faulty and missing key factors that can aid to a healthier, Biblical, and Christ-centered/Missio Dei perspective. First and foremost, as a Christian, my identity is rooted in Christ: in His birth, life, teachings, actions, death, resurrection, ascension, and promises. As a child of the Most High King, I recognize that there are certain attributes in this world that contribute to how I can be described.

IMMIGRATION – LOCAL CHURCH

IMMIGRATION – LOCAL CHURCH

April 4, 2017 By dwayman

Our congregation on the Westside of Santa Barbara is blessed to be bi-cultural and bi-lingual.  This congregation has resources for all churches during this time of fear and anxiety about immigration.

In a recent report to the conference leadership team, pastor Rich Sander wrote:

 Pueblo FMC partnered with the Trinity Episcopal church to bring a forum to Santa Barbara regarding the Sanctuary movement and practical next steps for congregations. In SB, we’re meeting again this coming Wednesday as we form an inter-faith coalition that stands with the immigrant and refugee. Below is an overview of what we learned at the forum from speaker Alexia Salvatierra. First, I wanted to reiterate that what we have learned is that its more important for us to be in the work of “changing hearts and minds” than going full-steam-ahead on protests, declaring sanctuary, and/or housing immigrants/refugees. While all of the latter are important, chances are that they are much less needed than the former. Our main goal is to lower anxiety. Easy ways to do that are found in the web site. I’ll go over the documents and their usefulness: 1) Rights/Derechos – One of the main ways we can help immigrants and refugees is for them to know their basic human rights as well as the rights that are afforded to them with regard to arrest and/or entrance into their homes. This card is easy to print out and laminate; anyone can use it when they are being questioned, arrested,
ASSISTING IN IMMIGRATION

ASSISTING IN IMMIGRATION

April 1, 2017 By dwayman

There are those who think we should not assist our people who need legal help in their immigration.  However, the love of Christ compels us to help those who are in need.  It is explained this way by Larry Roberts:

“The Free Methodist Church – USA is joining 14 other evangelical denominations to form the Immigration Alliance —a national effort that equips local churches to provide legal services to under-resourced immigrants.

“There is clearly a deep need and a demand for these services,” FMCUSA Chief Operating Officer Larry Roberts said. “Because these services are of such high importance to those who need them, this is a powerful opportunity to bless those immigrants amongst us and introduce them to our churches and our Savior through the relationships that can be built in this process.”

The Immigration Alliance launched Tuesday, Oct. 21, as a coalition of evangelical denominations — including the Free Methodist Church – USA and fellow Wesleyan Holiness groups such as the Church of the Nazarene and the Wesleyan Church — that represent more than 28,500 congregations. The alliance is committed to multiplying the number of sites across the country providing low-cost, high-quality immigrant legal services over the next three years.

With more than 22 million foreign-born, noncitizens in the United States – and with only 12,000 private immigration attorneys and 2,800 nonprofit immigration attorneys and accredited staff in the United States – the need for trustworthy, authorized legal services has never been greater.

CULTURAL HUMILITY

CULTURAL HUMILITY

April 1, 2017 By dwayman

In the medical world the language of Cultural Humility is replacing Cultural Competence.  Often Cultural Competence is seen as being an end point – where a person is assumed to now be competent in providing medical (pastoral) care for persons of a different culture.  However, the recognition that every individual is culturally unique (as well as unique in their spiritual journey), we should be humble in discovering who this unique person truly is.

This video is a short two minute explanation of how to use Cultural Humility:

JUNIA PROJECT

JUNIA PROJECT

March 31, 2017 By dwayman

The Junia Project is led by two Free Methodist women:  Gail Wallace and Kate Nunnelly.  It is a resource for great articles on Women in Leadership.  You can find their website here.

Here is their greeting:

ABOUT THE JUNIA PROJECT
Welcome, and thanks for dropping in!

We are a volunteer community of women and men advocating for the inclusion of women in leadership in the Christian church and for mutuality in marriage.

We believe that when interpreted correctly, the Bible teaches that both men and women are called to serve at all levels of the Church, and that leadership should be based primarily on gifting and not on gender.

 

 

Excerpt from: GOD’S LOVE EXPRESSED AND EXPERIENCED

Excerpt from: GOD’S LOVE EXPRESSED AND EXPERIENCED

March 30, 2017 By dwayman

This is taken from the larger work published here:  God’s Love Expressed and Experienced

“An important premise of Wesleyan Theology is that we have faith in God that is not driven by fear, but rather by trusting in the power of God’s sanctifying work. This faith provides space in the individual’s life as well as in the church for God to do His work. According to the Pew Study of 2013, 51% of persons who self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are actively involved in religion.2 The opportunity to care for such persons and trust in God rather than fear, judge or exclude such fellow seekers is our God-given opportunity. The deep longing of every person’s heart is to be accepted and loved. This longing is not only a longing for God’s love but for the love of family and church just as we are. When the church singles out particular groups of people from full inclusion in the community of faith, the church refuses the prevenient grace of God. To experience the saving and sanctifying grace of God, every person needs to know that he or she is loved by God, by God’s family and hopefully by their own parents.3 Each person also needs to experience the support of a community that is willing to listen to the pressures and tensions of his or her inner self, or soul. Though not all pastors and congregations may understand particular pressures and tensions in the inner life of a lesbian,

LGBT – ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

LGBT – ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

March 29, 2017 By dwayman

Annotated Bibliography of Select LGBT References

Rev. Bruce N. G. Cromwell, Ph.D.
SCOD 2013

Bell, Rob. Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007.

Rob Bell is, well, Rob Bell. This is a very readable and compelling book that is more about relationships than sexuality per se. Roughly 200 pages (when you include the end-notes, Scripture citations, and the like) it’s a book that I’d certainly recommend but not one that necessarily speaks loudly into this particular conversation. Could it help someone improve their marriage? Absolutely. Could it help us in formulating a compassionate response to the LGBT question? Perhaps, but not directly.

And to be honest, the fact that it’s Rob might turn some people off. I like this work of his. I don’t remember anything in it that made me squirm or get queasy. But it might not be the best thing for some people to be handed a book but someone whose name is inflammatory in certain circles. Just a thought.

Brown, Peter. The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1988.

I first read this work while working on my doctorate in Patristics. Peter Brown is a genius when it comes to Christian antiquity, and I pretty much trust his analysis and scholarship at face value.

HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH HISTORIC (all)

HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH HISTORIC (all)

March 29, 2017 By dwayman

HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH HISTORIC – Complete document
What Does the Tradition Component of the Quadrilateral Have to Say Regarding the LGBT Debate?

Free Methodist Study Commission on Doctrine, 2014 Dr. Bruce N. G. Cromwell

Philipp Melanchthon, the great German reformer and quite possibly the first systematic theologian of the Protestant movement, famously said, “In necessary things, unity. In doubtful things, liberty. In all things, charity.”1 As debate surrounding the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) community grows and intensifies, such counsel is no doubt wise and necessary.

While in graduate school I read John Boswell’s work, Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe.2 Boswell gained prominence in 1980 by receiving a National Book Award for his investigation into what he saw as a historically accurate overview of homosexuals, their challenges, and their freedoms up to the fourteenth century.3 Within Same-Sex Unions he tried to demonstrate that in the first millennium of the common era communities had, within the structures of Christianity, actually allowed same-sex couples to cohabitate and live functionally as married. Talking about the cultural ethos of the Greco- Roman world and the development of marriage rites and liturgical practices, Boswell attempted to demonstrate that examples of the recognition and blessing of same-sex unions are neither novel nor exceptional. Unfortunately, his argument lacks a smoking gun and conveys no conclusive proof. We all read from a particular bias, with particular cultural and religious assumptions. Boswell, who sadly died from AIDS- related complications shortly after the release of Same-Sex Unions,