Introductory Note: A Bishop's Day on the District was held in Johnstown PA at the Oakland United Methodist Church on Tuesday evening, February 28, 2012. I attended that gathering in the capacity as a retired elder and member of the Western PA Annual Conference. As part of preparation we were asked to read Bishop Bickerton's paper, "The Plan for Congregational Vitality," which is 18 pages in length. Not knowing what the format would be, I was prepared to ask at least two questions in light of what he had written in the paper. However, the format of the meeting was a bit different in that after his reading of Romans 8 and remarks which followed, he asked a series of questions for us to discuss in small groups of 4 or more and then make limited response. So I decided I would write him a letter and ask my questions through that communication. Since it would have been in a public setting if I had asked the questions at the gathering, I have decided to do the letter on my web site, sending him an email with link to the site. It may be that other United Methodists, both lay and clergy, will read it and be challenged to think on issues raised by the questions. There is a bit of risk in this as some may become intensely angry due to the nature of the questions, but it will not be the first time some have been extremely upset with content to which they have been exposed on the Circuit Rider's Range web site!
February 29, 2012
Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton
Western PA Annual Conference
Dear Bishop Bickerton:
I read and reread your reflection paper in preparation for the Johnstown gathering on February 28. You have given the members of this conference much to think about in regard to the issue of establishing a vital congregation. Certainly your description of our tendency to change Wesley's view of "the world is my parish" to "my parish is my world" is quite on target.
My first question is this: has it dawned on the laity and the leadership in the United Methodist Church that a large number of our congregations would be more vital if in fact this nation had not put in place a policy which has resulted in over 54 million unborn children being destroyed before they were born over the last 39 years? The United States' version of "Holocaust" has wiped out a few hundred thousand who would have become members of United Methodist Churches. The oldest of these would now be 39 years old and none of us with our very limited understanding can comprehend what their contribution would have been to the "vitality" of the United Methodist Church in their capacity as lay persons or in a number of cases as clergy whom God called to share the unsearchable riches of our Lord Jesus Christ!
But there is a serious problem -- an eerie silence has blanketed the United Methodist Church on this very critical issue. You mention in your paper as well as in remarks made last evening about malaria deaths in Africa and have at times given statistics in regard to numbers of victims from malaria. Why is that you and the Council of Bishops have never boldly stated and protested the fact that about 1 million or more unborn children are mutilated and murdered before they are born in the United States each year?
It seems the only "outrage" that takes place is directed to persons such as myself who have attempted to draw attention to this abomination that is simply an updated version of the ancient Canaanite practice of sacrificing young children by throwing them into the fire in an act of homage to the god, Molech! The Israelites got into deep trouble with God when they adopted the practice!
A few years ago a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry jumped on me about my web site and my posting pictures of aborted children. His question was, "Do you think God approves of you posting those pictures?" He then went on to add, "I wish I had been on the board when you went through the process." That was his way of saying that he would have given me a thumbs down as to elgibility for ordination in this conference. I tried to be kind when I replied in light of what I was dealing with. First, I told him that when I went through the process, he was still in training pants and his mother was teaching him how to brush his teeth and wash behind his ears! That was to help him get some perspective and that I hadn't just walked in the door as of yesterday, having been around the block a few more times than he. Second, I said that the real issue was not whether God approved my posting the pictures, but rather does God approve of this nation destroying over a million unborn children each year? This is a nation that makes the hypocritical claim in historical documents that all persons should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Obviously that statement no longer applies and has not for quite a long time!
And then there was the time I got a call from a district superintendent stating that the conference had been contacted about those pictures being posted and statements made regarding the ongoing destruction of unborn children. Since I have written personally to each active United Methodist bishop, enclosing a letter I have written to the president (I write on a regular basis), and raising the issue of millions of unborn children being destroyed, I assume the conference was contacted by one or more bishops. I was asked if I would put a statement on the site to the effect that the views expressed on the web site are not those of the United Methodist Church. And second, would I also post a kind of warning about the nature of the pictures and they are not suitable viewing for young children. So I posted the information on the first page of the site as requested. It probably is not to their liking especially since I used a flashing green traffic light graphic and mentioned that the "green light" position of the United Methodist Church is found in the Book of Discipline in the social principles section.
Again, I ask "Why the outrage as directed to me for raising the issue and publishing graphic evidence which God obviously labels under the heading of 'shedding innocent blood!'" Why is there not public outrage expressed against a government and its officials that support the practice -- against those mis-identified persons posing as MD's who are guilty of committing these heinous acts and become wealthy in doing so?
The next time membership numbers are reported just remember the fact that they could have been higher in number IF our nation had not engaged in a practice best identified as "Holocaust!" Equally great is the tragedy that officially the United Methodist Church is very silent -- not even a peep or a whimper! Why is it that we fail to recognize that this abomination can bring the wrath of God down upon us more quickly than anything else -- we do have a lot of sins going for us, but to destroy those for whom Almighty God has plans tops the list of abominations of which we are very guilty. I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet -- I am just a farm boy from a rural area south of Clarion PA, therefore I do not know if we as a nation have crossed over the line or not. But I will attempt to sound the warning as best I am able to do -- if we do not repent, then we as a nation and as a church are doomed!
On the defensive are those who attempt to say it is a "complicated issue" -- what is so complicated about tearing an unborn child to pieces and murdering it? A few of us have concluded this is an offense of the first magnitude in light of the fact that God claims to be involved in the formation of that child and that He has a planned purpose for it. Jeremiah 1, Psalm 139, and Ephesians 1 are extremely helpful to clarify the issue.
Bishop, you also make mention of the fact that we are a connectional church. I, of course, have heard that for nearly 53 years, from the time I started out in a small annual conference in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania known as the Erie Annual Conference to the W. PA Annual Conference of which I am a member at the present time.
We have been reminded repeatedly about the connectional system and responsibility to be a "loyal" United Methodist whether we serve as a member of the laity or at some level as a member of the clergy. What has not been honestly and realistically faced is the plague best identified as "infection within the connection!"
Perhaps this was best demonstrated recently in a publicly released statement by a bunch of retired United Methodist bishops as they called for deletion of the statement in our Discipline which declares homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching. This will open the door then for sodomites and lesbians to fully participate in the life and ministry of the church such as ordination to be clergy, to be in all positions of leadership, and ultimately to marry, adopt children and be considered "family" -- all this without mention made of repenting since that lifestyle is not considered to be "sinful."
There is absolutely no way such a position can be considered legitimate in light of God's clear revelation on human sexuality and how it is to be expressed and experienced. God has drawn the boundaries as to what is acceptable and what is not. Sodomy and lesbianism are an abomination. Unfortunately, because God's Word is not considered to be the final authority on life issues by some within the UMC, the denomination is being torn apart -- there can be no real reconciliation so long as there is a refusal to repent of what God has labeled an abomination!
I would hope, as you have opportunity to do so, that you would rebuke these for supporting the sodomite/lesbian agenda even as you rebuked the rude customer at the Starbucks coffee shop in an airport just recently according to statements you made in your presentation last evening at Oakland UMC in Johnstown.
Our General Conference coming up soon will have to deal with this issue again. It should never have been an issue to begin with, if ALL pastors and laity agreed on the authority of God's holy Word. Perhaps our daily praying should include a prayer that God will purge the church of the element that sanctions what is abominable in His sight!
Thanks for listening a bit -- probably if this were printed out in the standard pages it would almost match your initial reflection paper in length, but there was no way I could reduce it. I left out a number of things as it were.
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church
AND Non-Affiliated registered voter, Cambria Co. PA
For further reference see:
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- Jesus Meets the "Committee!"
- Imploding Our Culture by Destroying the Young!
- Trashing Sacred Gifts - 21st Century Style!
- How to Dismantle a Culture in 3 Easy Steps!
- Applauding a Killing - USA Style!
- Atrocities? Well, It Depends on Your Definition of What Is or Isn't!
- By the Way, Did You Know???
- Social Security "Crisis" According to President Bush - December 16, 2004
- The Embracing of Death in the Cut-throat World of Politics!
- It's Unconstitutional to Protect the Life of An Unborn Child --Even When It's Ready to be Born!
- Missing: Millions of Contributors Who Could Have Made a Significant Difference!
- Bothered About U.S. Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners? There's Something Much Worse Than That!
- Giving God the Obscene Gesture!
- Who Should Be President When God Judges the U.S.A?
- Politics and The Loss of Over 1,000 Military Personnel in Iraq!
- USA on Judgment Schedule!
- United States Holocaust Gallery!
- Baby Parts for Sale!
- Justice Denied!
- Weapons of Mass Destruction? Why Does Bush Not Include ALL of Them?
- Portrayal of U.S.A's Hidden Horrors!
- President Bush's "Selective" War Against Terrorism!
- A National Rage Against Violence, BUT Not Always!
- Is the United States Going Down the Same Path As Samson?
- Popular Deities of American Culture!
- When God Uses the Heathen As a Whip!
- RU-486 -- The Final Nail?
- Why So Heavy on the Abortion Issue Anyway?
- Forget the Terrorists -- the 21st Century Canaanites Are a Greater Threat!
- Mr. President, We Need to Get Our Own House in Order First!
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