What Happened to Trust and Persevering Commitment?
By Dr. Maxie Dunnam
Two news items today (June 8, 2022) got my immediate attention. Former Kansas resident Allison Ficke-Ekren pleaded guilty to leading an ISIS wome
n’s battalion. A former teacher, she converted to Islam and left the U.S. She has been training women and girls (including her daughter) to fight and plan terrorist attacks. The second news item was of the FBI seizing the electronic data of retired Marine Gen. John Allen as part of an investigation of his connection to illegal lobbying on behalf of Qatar in 2017. I think the reason those news items got my attention so quickly was that the evening before I had learned that some of the leaders in the United Methodist Church who had helped develop and supported THE PROTOCOL OF RECONCILIATION AND GRACE THROUGH SEPARATION, were publicly announcing they were no longer committed to the Protocol. In what some termed miraculous, a team, representing all the multiple facets of division and leadership within the church, acknowledged the reality of differences in theology, biblical interpretation, and disciplinary practices within the UMC, had developed the PROTOCOL. It provided a pathway for amicable separation of churches within the denomination. My mind is awhirl! Where is trust and persevering commitment? Doesn’t this “betrayal” confirm our need for something like the protocol? This past Sunday, Pentecost, I preached at Christ Church, Memphis, and shared my personal conviction. People who know me and my history in the United Me
thodist Church are sometimes surprised about my position on some issues and my confidence that revival is coming. Some are surprised that I now believe separation is essential and can be redemptive. For decades, I have worked as hard as any lay person, minister, or bishop in the church to preserve unity as we have struggled with issues that have been painfully dividing us. Pentecost was a good time to share because I believe the Holy Spirit has the power to bring healing for our anguish and rescue life from the painful jaws of division and doubt. The Holy Spirit of God signals a time of restoration, awakening, and revival. Pentecost was a missionary event and the Holy Spirit is the chief evangelist. I believe revival is coming because I believe the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our day. I have had conversations with two of the persons who shared in developing the Protocol and have announced they no longer support it. They assure me that, though they no longer support the Protocol, they are more keenly aware of the intensity of division and know that some form of separation is essential. As we move ahead in our conversations and life together, let’s pray and believe that revival is coming. Our missionary God has sent his primary evangelist, the Holy Spirit, whose power cannot be denied. Who knows? Separation and the new Global Methodist Church may be one of the vivid signs of that revival!