Circuit Rider's Cauldron

Circuit Rider's Cauldron!

A Boiling Kettle of Controversy!

Music Title: Sleep Walk

Ooops! The Kettle Is Boiling Over!

Here we go!!

Circuit Rider's Cauldron Index

Let's Just Focus on the "Good" That Is Being Done!

Once in a while you hear a statement being made that there is a lot of good being done by the church in the world, and that we shouldn't be giving attention to the actions of a few which result in a lot of press coverage as well as division and conflict, etc! Just stress the good things that are happening and avoid any mention of the negative stuff -- got to be "positive" at all times, right?
Usually such statements come via members of the UMC hierarchy and/or UMC media people. Sounds good, but the problem is that these people aren't facing hard reality and in some cases are likely major contributors to the crisis! A member in my family has been diagnosed with cancer, and guess what? When he goes to the doctor he is not told that his eyes are in good shape and his ears are working fine, and his heart is beating at a good rate -- his nose is doing a good job, his fingers and toes are functioning fine and doing good things! Oh yes, his elbow and knee hinge joints are working just fine also -- the way they are supposed to do! Instead, for some reason that "negative" doctor focuses on the cancer and how to exterminate it -- not just a few cells, but TOTALLY and COMPLETELY, because if it isn't eliminated, I don't have to tell you what will happen!
A Post Script: The family member was my brother in law who was diagnosed with cancer last March ('99)-- he went to be with the Lord on June 14, 1999 -- the cancer spread rapidly into many areas of his body -- God permitted him to see some angels just before his leaving to cross over to the other side, and he testified to that, also noting he had no pain whatsoever as he saw these heavenly beings! Physical cancer will kill the body, and it doesn't matter how many good things are going on in other areas of the body -- spiritual cancer will kill a church if not totally removed and exterminated, and it doesn't matter how many "good things" are being done at the time! But it is becoming more painfully obvious as time marches on that we will not learn the lesson will we?

Back in the 60's I wrote a letter which was printed in the UM Reporter which stated among other things that the Methodist Church (before the "marriage" of '68) was suffering from "a cancerous spirit of apostasy!" I took some flak from that -- doesn't matter though -- that's what the problem continues to be, plain and simple -- only difference, the cancer is more widespread than ever! If the body is to live, get rid of the cancer!

Just a few years after the "cancerous spirit" letter I asked a DS who was known to be an "evangelical" if he believed there was apostasy within the United Methodist Church. His quick reply was, "Most certainly there is!" I then asked him if he would be specific and state where he felt it was, to which he replied that he did not want to comment on that! Are these people drilled on that phrase also -- "I prefer not to comment at this time!" :-(

Just Wondering Department

Ah, About That ‘holy union’ Ceremony!

[Note: the following was written just after the January 16 fiasco in Sacramento CA]

Now that the ‘holy union’ event of January 16, 1999 has taken place with much hoopla and all that stuff, what might we expect in weeks and months ahead as we approach UMC’s General Conference in Y2K? Don't forget the advocates of same gender sexual relationships are now on a big roll and they are just beginning to really throttle up.........!!!!

Favorable media coverage, both religious and secular – it was a "love" filled event described at times as "...more like a soulful ‘love-in’ than a solemn worship." It will be highly heralded as a good thing which will encourage more persons who are “same gender oriented” to come out of the closet.

The bishops of the UMC have a lot of responsibilities, including enforcement of the Discipline when it comes to pastors committing chargeable offences! Look for hedging, foot dragging, excuses, ploys, slight of hand, sidestepping, intentional delays regarding clergy who chose to violate the UMC Discipline and publicly commit a chargeable offence by participating in and co-celebrating a same sex ceremony. And all this dressed in pietistic language -- you know, the use of terminology such as we are already beginning to hear about "letting the 'process' work" and the implication that if you comment in any way in negative terms then you "hate" those who are involved in what will be commonly referred to as the "ceremony of blessing!" It's quite similar to what a government politician does when he or she is in hot water :-((

There are at least those persons in the UMC that wonder how long it takes for this "process" to work -- sure doesn't take very long in my conference if a pastor indulges in adultery -- it becomes a red alert and the hierarchy begins to scramble more quickly than pilots running to their aircraft in a military crisis! Bishops have all the information necessary and verifiable "evidence" – so what’s the delay?

But in the Cal-Nev Conference, things are more than a bit different -- let's see now -- at least 95 Cal-Nev clergy participated in the same-sex ceremony (and some persons are downplaying this by trying to play the percentage game -- those clergy as compared to the total number of UMC clergy who haven't done the same-sex thing -- about 150 out of a total 53,600 clergy -- further, we are told this only amounts to about 1/3 of 1 percent -- good thing our doctors don't play that game with cancer cells and healthy cells in the human body! You know, suppose your doctor said the ratio of cancer cells in your body is only about 150 for each 53,600 healthy cells and he or she would say, "Nothing to worry about -- no treatment needed!" Come on -- let's hear it -- how would that sit with you?). So then, file individual complaints, do the investigative thing, determine if the complaints warrant charges, and if so, then go to trial with 13 clergy peers as 'jury' in each individual case -- as suggested in another place here on the Range, there is real potential for clogging the system and bringing this so called "process" which is being highly acclaimed to a screeching HALT!!! Ah, yes – let the "process work" – take a few dozen "No Doz" tablets folks, lest you fall asleep while the "process works!"

UPDATE June 28, 1999! OK, what did I just tell you -- read all about it in The Sacramento "68" -- ah, not sure what happened to #69 -- maybe he or she slipped through the proverbial "cracks!" -- but then, before this is all over, maybe a lot more will have slipped off to wherever and we'll have to hire a few people to keep the Book of Discipline dusted off, throw out the old '96 version, and replace with the new '00 version as this process moves on at an Indianapolis 500 pace!??????????

If and when the trials ever take place, what can we expect by way of an outcome? Don't be surprised that in a number of cases the outcome will be similar to a fox on trial for breaking into and creating a bit of chaos in the chicken coop – the judge is a fox, the defense lawyer naturally is a fox and the members of the jury are foxes – the prosecutor's chance of winning is about the same as a snowball's chance of survival in that Place which is denied by a lot of theologians and pastors, and the outcome is somewhat predictable – change identity of the players to a UM minister on trial for performing a same-sex union ceremony which is supposed to be a chargeable offense according to the August ’98 ruling of the Judicial Council! Un huh – we’ll see the "process work" won’t we???? Let’s see, there is an appeal "process" too is there not? Why one could drag this thing out longer than those death sentence appeals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?

In light of the news release on the famed Sacramento "68" and information regarding persons involved, could there be such a thing as "conflict" of interest here? Maybe the fox in the chicken coop thing isn't as far fetched as one would first think!!!!!

A step up in the application of tactics which portray those who oppose same sex "unions" as being homophobes, bigots, unforgiving, unloving, self righteous, etc. – you know, all those flattering labels which say, "We same gender couplers are not the problem – it’s those Bible thumpers and their homophobia affliction that cause all the division and strife within as well as outside the church!" Look for editorial writers to play a prominent role in this "strategy" -- and often they will present a Jesus interpreted as One Who had no real convictions of right and wrong -- always gentle, meek, and never offending anyone at anytime. Overlooked will be the fact of the occasions of His anger, His vocabulary at certain times with those who had rejected God's plain revelation of truth, His dealings with those who had made His Father's house a "den of thieves," and His labeling of a certain political leader which was not intended to be gentle or flattering!

A concentrated and well organized effort to remove all offensive references to same gender coupling which presently appear in the UMC’s Book of Discipline. Much "politicking" will be taking place between now and General Conference in Y2K! Listen for voices which are considered among the "big guns" of United Methodism to increasingly speak out saying that the statements must be removed because they are "excluding" a number of people from the ministry of the church, blah, blah, blah…..!

The "No Lines in the Sand" philosophy will be promoted strongly – you know, let’s just "live and let live" (or is it “Let’s just love and let love!”) – be one big happy family living in the same “house” – if need be, we’ll have separate “rooms” as is being suggested repeatedly these days – ah, no more fighting and shouting and accusing and pointing fingers and…..???????

Oooops – almost forgot – oh yes, we can expect that there will be a number of United Methodists who will make their exit from the denomination with a shrug of the shoulders and a statement roughly translated that says, "I’ve had it – enough is enough – I’m getting out!" Hmmm – it has been observed that even rats will abandon a ship at a certain stage as it sinks – smart little critters aren’t they? – echoes of Titanic!!!!

And who knows what else will break loose?????

OK, things are beginning to happen -- the "Sacramento 68" (now down to 67 due to one being killed in a car accident) will be the focus of open hearings in order to determine if charges should be filed -- this is just at the complaint stage -- get more details at Hearings of a Different Kind! -- this is in the area known as Circuit Rider's Behind the Scenes Peek! -- lots of other stuff there to look at as well!

Same Gender Sex Lifestyles Can Be Transformed!

The same gender coupling crowd likes to cry "Foul!" when it is reported that Jesus Christ has touched and transformed some of their own -- it's like, "Jesus, don't go meddling in our lives!" And then the media culture (both religious and secular) is reluctant to publish the facts on these happenings - doesn't look good for those pushing the same gender coupling lifestyle on our culture! For a couple of miracles in this area of life visit Ann Paulk and John Paulk! Also, check out Family Research Council June 2 Release! Now for those of you who don't like this, take your complaint to the One Who changed these people, and see if He agrees with your objections to what He has done in bringing peace, purpose, and hope into their lives! But before you do that, maybe you best review what He went through to make those miracles possible - look at Amazing Grace - All for Us!!

Philip Wogaman of Foundry UMC in Washington DC in his commentary on Christian morality and hate crimes (UMNS #636) states, "After years of reflecting on this issue and getting to know gay and lesbian Christians whom I have come to respect, my own thinking has changed. I no longer regard all homosexual behavior as necessarily pathological or sinful, as I once did. I see too much evidence to the contrary."

Hmmmm - it's this growing use of terms such as "gay Christian" and "lesbian Christian" across the nation and within the church that causes one to ponder a bit! For instance, is it then legitmate to use the term "fornicating Christian" or "adulterous Christian" -- that is, one might be fornicating even on a daily basis, but one can be a Christian at the same time, or if one is practicing adultery on a regular basis, one can still be a Christian? The key, of course, would be for such persons to say, "I'm committed and I love my partner(s)!" Or how about "thieving Christian" or "abusive Christian" or "brawling Christian" or "boozing Christian" or "murdering Christian"? "Oh yes, I'm a Christian but I like to steal, or abuse people, or brawl, or get drunk, or kill people -- but I'm a Christian and I'm committed!" Some would feel that such terms are -- do I dare say it -- ok, I will -- "incompatible!!"

Alvin Mentions Sex!

"Hmmm -- it is painfully obvious that you earthlings are in conflict over the matter of your own sexuality! It most certainly dominates your culture in so many ways -- it is used to sell anything from your primitive mode of transportation referred to as automobiles to your breakfast cereal! You can't seem to have entertainment without applying a lot of material that is sexually oriented, and that usually depicting a violation of God's moral code on sexual expression and experience! Excuse me, I didn't mean to expound at length on this right now, since I have already been to the Pantheon Two area of U.S.A. 'gods' on Parade and have mentioned how this matter of sexuality is viewed where I come from. It is best, if you haven't been there yet, to start at Pantheon One of U.S.A. 'gods' on Parade and then move on to Pantheon Two and after that to Pantheon Three! I will see you there, and of course you can return here after your tour there is completed. I must say that this Range is a most unusual place, but the Circuit Rider has been a most gracious host and has told me to stay as long as I want -- isn't that kind of him?"

On Aug. 24, 1998 a United Methodist News Service headline read:

United Methodist Church considers gambling a 'menace to society'

The article began with the following statement:

Gambling, according to the United Methodist Church's Social Principles, is a "menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive to good government."

I move to amend the above headline and statement -- instead of using the word "gambling" we shall use a better word that more accurately describes what a real "menace" in society is, so that my amended headline and statement with the new substituted word would read:

United Methodist Church considers abortion a 'menace to society'

Abortion, according to the United Methodist Church's Social Principles, is a "menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive to good government."

As many as will adopt the amended statement with the new word please signify with the uplifted hand -- thank you -- those against the amendment -- ah, I see a few hands raised against the amendment -- most seem to belong to members of the UMC hierarchy -- thank you -- the amendment does overwhelmingly prevail -- in case you are wondering, it was the vote of the laity that did it -- mighty fine folks with a real sense of right and wrong!! Now please notify your bishop and the secretary of your annual conference -- go ahead, and make their day!

Ah, if you would like to see what a contribution abortion does make in our society -- oh yes, it does do something for us, but you won't find too much coming out of the United Methodist Church and its officials as to what that significant contribution is!! Just go to Human Life Is Sacred. You can return here after taking a look at how abortion is enhancing our society!

From Circuit Rider Archives:

Excuse me for interrupting your tour of the "cauldron" -- you'll have to admit -- this is some mixure!! What you are about to read is a response the Circuit Rider made to a pastor who took issue with him on some things he had written. His name is omitted for obvious reasons. The Circuit Rider is always writing letters to someone -- editors -- the President (on a regular basis) -- members of Congress -- bishops & D.S.'s -- he even wrote to the President of South Korea years ago and told him to ignore a bishop who had gone all out to label S.K. a vicious police state (while keeping his mouth shut on the terrors of the Communistic regimes of the time) and that the bishop did not speak for all United Methodists. Lo and behold a bit later the Circuit Rider got a letter from the President of S.K. along with a box of books giving a lot of details and pictures of the country and its culture. The bishop in question, by the way, eventually was forced to resign his position for a reason I won't detail here. Anyway, the letter you are about to read will fill you in as to why the Circuit Rider spent a major part of his career out in what may be described as "the sticks in the middle of nowhere!" Just keep moving south -- there's lots more to see and further adventures all over CR's Range! Enjoy!


Thanks so much for your response. As previously indicated there has been a wide variety of responses covering the entire spectrum of views.

If I really didn't care about the state of the UMC I would not bother writing much of anything much less being a part of it!

I had many an opportunity to leave the former Methodist Church and later after the "marriage", the U. M. Church. Attractive opportunities to go into more conservative church groups upon invitation from pastors there, independent situations, a small independent mission group with work going in Brazil (where I traveled on 2 separate occasions) opened up time after time. Close friends, both laity and pastors, left the church and urged me to do likewise. But in spite of all that I never felt that God was giving me a "green light" to leave, but rather stay put and preach and teach His Word in a denomination fast moving into a state of decline!

I intentionally stayed in a small congregation ministry which meant working in the frustration of circuit situations -- not that I was in a sense "condemned" to do this because of incompetence, but again I believed that was what God wanted me to do. I was offered a station appointment many years ago with the opportunity of course to climb the "ecclesiastical ladder to success" but I turned it down with the response to give it to one of the frustrated females who felt she was getting a raw deal in the appointment process or some guy who felt he couldn't really do ministry unless he was in a station appointment.

Part of my reason for such a decision also was that I guess I was sympathetic to the small congregations -- I was tired of seeing them hammered again and again by some DS's trying to lay a guilt trip on them for not doing more, when in fact many of them were doing more on a per capita dollar basis than were the big churches -- I know because I set up a spread sheet one time years ago and checked out apportionment payments on a per capita basis -- very revealing!!!

And there have been times they haven't been given the voice they deserve to have in spite of the fact that there is supposed to be a "democratic process" ????? at work. Also they aren't fairly represented at the Cabinet level -- what DS has any real length of experience in small congregations? By way of contrast, I had a total of 37 years which qualifies me to know more about small church ministry than the Bishop and members of the Cabinet all put together -- no brag, just fact!! Perhaps the attitude that too often seems to prevail is reflected in the statement of one DS who referred to the small churches as "third rate churches" -- hmm -- I didn't know such a thing existed until "Dr" so & so said so!!

All of that is to say that I'm where I am because I feel that is where God has placed me and fortunately He will render the final decision on my life's work -- no DS, no bishop, not the Cabinet, not the Council of Bishops, nor the General Conf of the UMC -- it's a good thing it is that way -- I could be in a big pile of trouble!!!

But this one thing I also know -- if the United Methodist Church could recapture the fire, zeal, unity and passion it once possessed in the days of Wesley and later in the early days of this nation, this world would be impacted in a way that would stagger the mind of one who tried to comprehend it all!

But then I guess that's what we are to be about, right?

Thanks again for taking time to share -- now you know a bit as to where I'm coming from. May God's best be your daily portion as you proclaim Jesus Christ to be a living Savior Who offers forgiveness and hope to a very troubled and confused world.

Still contending (Jude 3,4)
Clayton D. Harriger
Retired Member, W. PA Annual Conference

Oh, as Detective Columbo so often says, "There's just one more thing!" Circuit Rider has found another part of the Range to do some more construction -- this place will be known as his Archive Center! That's right -- it will house a collection of his usual controversial correspondance and commentary related to issues of our time! Just click on the Comments Button below and you will go directly to the Center. When you are ready to leave (and that could be very soon after arrival) just click on the color underlined "Return to CR's Cauldron" which will be found on the south side of the Center and continue your travels -- pssst -- want to know something? The Circuit Rider says he's been having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have!! That statement of course is not original with him, but rather with a highly controversial portly personality of talk radio fame!

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Copyright 1998, 1999 Clayton D. Harriger