Commentary on Current Developments Within the United Methodist Church
This website, founded and maintained by Rev. Christopher Ritter of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference, includes an exceptional compendium of many news sources related to the United Methodist Church separation issues as well as cogent and thoughtful commentary from Rev. Ritter. One of the best go-to locations to stay up to speed on what is happening.
Good News Magazine, a publication of Good News (which was founded by a pastor from Elgin, Illinois!) has long been the voice of evangelical and traditional United Methodists. The bi-monthly magazine contains news but also great pieces of theological reflection, contemporary local church ministry, and awareness of trends in the larger church and culture. Always a great resource and uplifting read.
United Methodist Communications, the official news source for The United Methodist Church, provides a daily email summary of developments in the denomination. Some of these are stories regarding local church ministry, but they also generally include the major press releases regarding development in the emerging separation of The United Methodist Church. Subscriptions to the daily news summary are free via email.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association website provides a wealth of information and inspiration as well as notice of upcoming events globally, nationally, and regionally among the rapidly-developing network of traditional United Methodists.
The Positive Prospect of the Emerging Separation in the United Methodist Church
An Evangelical Perspective on the Division in the United Methodist Church. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2018). This brief volume (just 104 pages) surveys the distinctions between evangelical and progressive expressions of Christianity through divisions on Biblical Interpretation and Authority, Sexual Ethics, and Mission of the Church. Important background for understanding why we have arrived at the impasse of irreconcilable differences within the United Methodist Church. The authors include helpful Q and A sections in each chapter.
Deeper Dive: Resources on Theology, Ethics, Scriptural Understanding
By Witherington, Dr. Ben, "Gender Matters: Human Sexuality and the Bible Yet Again". Excellent article (20 pages) that reviews the recent history of Biblical interpretation within the United Methodist Church and ways in which the current debate regarding LGBTQIA+ matters in the United Methodist Church often mask much deeper issues that have brought us to the impasse of irreconcilable differences.
By Gilson, Rachel, "Born Again This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith and What Comes Next". In this powerful and personal book, author Rachel Gilson describes her own unexpected journey of coming out and coming to faith... and what came next. As she does so, she addresses many of the questions that Christians living with same-sex attraction are wrestling with: Am I consigned to a life of loneliness? How do I navigate my friendships? Will my desires ever change? Is there some greater purpose to all this?
By Bennett, David, "A War of Loves: The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus". As a younger man, David Bennett saw Christianity as an enemy to freedom for LGBTQIA+ people, and his early experiences with prejudice and homophobia led him to become a gay activist. But when Jesus came into his life in a unexpected way, he was led down a path he never would have imagined. An engaging testimony and mature personal reflection on sexuality and faith.
By Collins, Travis: "What Does It Mean to Be Welcoming: Navigating LGBT Questions in Your Church". Travis is a former missionary and currently Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. His local church structure and government may be different from United Methodism, but his grappling with issues around inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in a local congregation is clear and helpful.
By Ongley, Mark: "Into the Light: Healing Sexuality in Today’s Church". Look around your church on a Sunday morning and every face you see will likely have struggled or be struggling with some kind of sexual brokenness. While recent cultural upheaval has focused squarely on homosexuality, sexual brokenness presents in many other ways – infidelity, sexual abuse, incest, emotional adultery, sexting, and sexual addiction…to name a few. Into the Light is written to begin a biblically grounded and theologically informed discussion of the beautiful gift of sexuality. This resource is well-suited for individuals, small groups, Sunday School classes, and all-church studies. This is not a political statement, but a resource to help congregations open a long-closed area of need with compassion and grace.
By Hirsch, Debra: "Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality". Nothing has exposed the gap between the church and the broader society quite like the cultural argument over sexuality. Redeeming Sex provides a wholistic, biblical vision of sex and gender that honors God and offers good news to the world.
By Gagnon, Robert: "The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Text and Hermeneutics". An exhaustive review of the particular Biblical texts related to homosexuality, the history of their interpretation, and the unanimous witness of the Scripture throughout. Gagnon also engages the contemporary cultural conclusion, even among the progressives within the church, that the Bible is irrelevant to the current debates concerning sexuality. This is a technical volume for those who seek a detailed and scholarly resource to answer the question, “What does the Bible really say about sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular?”
By Hays, Richard B.: "The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics". A classic work on Christian ethics by an Emeritus Professor of New Testament at The Divinity School of Duke University, Hays’ book, particularly Part Three (“The Use of the New Testament in Christian Ethics”) and Part Four (“The Pragmatic Test: Living Under the Word”), specifically takes up the use of lethal force in the defense of justice, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, ethnic conflict, and abortion. Hays provides a comprehensive lens through which the New Testament forms a basis for our ethical commitments in current cultural controversies.