THE BARNABAS PLAN
A ministry designed to strengthen the outreach of Christ United Methodist Church,
Memphis, Tennessee & the United Methodist denomination.
God has chosen to use the United Methodist Church as a tool to reach the
world for Christ. We celebrate the historic and ongoing ways that the grace of God is
communicated through this denomination. But the UMC has severe problems.
We affirm the work of godly, courageous men like Dr. William Bouknight,
our pastor. Throughout the history of the Wesleyan movement God has used people like him
to guide, strengthen and renew the church - people with vision, integrity, determination
and clear Christian commitment. Dr. Bouknight and others in our congregation have urged
Christ United Methodist Church to take new, measurable steps to participate in the renewal
of our denomination.
- The question now before Christ Church regards our response to the struggles of our
denomination. After much discussion, prayer and research, the leaders of the Majority and
Minority Reports of the Task Force on Apportionments and Bill Bouknight are recommending a
new plan of action. Several things influenced the formation of this plan.
The plan addresses three urgent concerns:
Many people in our church are only now learning of the pains and errors
of the UMC. To these people the formation of a new committee may seem appropriate.
However, many other faithful church members have been "fighting this fight" for
years, even decades. A just response at this time has to be more bold and effective than
the formation of another committee. The question is "how shall Christ Church respond
to these problems within our denomination?"
As we approach the crisis of our denomination we remember the words of
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The Kingdom of Jesus goes forward on principles which
sound absurd to society. But within this Kingdom of love there is a provision for
accountability due to the brokenness and sinfulness of humankind.
One accountability step that has been discussed is the redirection of
some of the apportionments that Christ Church is asked to contribute to the work of the
denomination. The discussion regarding the redirection of apportionments is not meant to
convey an anti-United Methodist sentiment--no more than the scalpel of a surgeon is meant
to convey animosity toward the patient during an operation. This step or other actions are
not expressions of judgment, but rather expressions of frustration, sadness, and Christian
accountability. We are hoping for denominational renewal in order that this God-created
"tool" can be even more effective in the hands of the Creator.
The Barnabas Plan does not recommend a redirection of apportionments by
Christ Church at this time. The drafters of this plan reached a consensus not because the
redirecting of apportionments is claimed to violate the Book of Discipline or because of
the negative consequences that our congregation and staff might have experienced if that
dramatic step of accountability was taken. Rather, redirection of funds is not considered
to be the appropriate action in 1998 because our congregation has not sufficiently pursued
other, available alternatives to attain the desired objective. The church is called to
follow Christ's teaching on church discipline (accountability) found in Matthew 18. If
redirection is ultimately chosen, this step must come only after substantial reconciling
efforts by our congregation have been spurned, denied or ignored.
The Barnabas Plan calls for expensive, time-consuming work by our
congregation. This plan challenges Christ Church to aggressively work within the system of
United Methodism. Many people in the denomination may disagree with our concerns, but
those concerns will be voiced. If the plan is followed a clear message will be
communicated to the leaders of the United Methodist Church. If this plan is carried out,
and the leaders of the denomination do not respond, other accountability steps will have
to be pursued.
The Barnabas Plan is not a face-saving compromise. The plan is a genuine
effort to follow Gods will. The plan is named in memory of the disciple Joseph in
Acts 3. He was renamed Barnabas which means "son of encouragement." It is hoped
that the Barnabas Plan demonstrates hope and the belief that our encouragement can make a
difference in the witness of the United Methodist Church. May God help our congregation
and denomination engage in the task of making, maturing and mobilizing disciples for Jesus
Christ. The entire world stands before us!
II. WE BELIEVE
Christ United Methodist Church is a Memphis family united by our common
commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, our Savior and Lord, to the authority of
Scripture, to participation in the Holy Spirits work in our world, and to Wesleyan
doctrine and theology as defined in our Book of Discipline.
We believe, as Scripture and the Discipline hold, Jesus is "the
very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father" (Art. II, Articles of
Religion), the "eternal Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, born of
the Virgin Mary" (Art. II, Confession of Faith), whose atoning work on the cross
allows believers to be reconciled with the Father. The acknowledgment of Christ as Son,
Savior and Lord and the authority of Scripture are non-negotiable essentials of the
Although emotion can cloud communication and decision making, Christian
brothers and sisters can disagree in love.
Christ Church and the United Methodist denomination are in need of
The concerns regarding the deviation of some in our United Methodist
family from traditional Wesleyan doctrine, and the corresponding deviation from the
churchs positions on homosexuality and the sanctity of life are not new concerns.
Some faithful men and women have been acting on these concerns for decades. Other persons
are only now learning of these issues. Christ Church became a greater church when she
began to invest the time of its members in mission, not just their money. In dealing with
the doctrinal and ethical challenges of our denomination, a few members of the church have
given significant amounts of time. However, the larger percentage of our congregation has
been uninformed and uninvolved. Faithful response to the current denominational challenges
must involve the education and mobilization of a much larger portion of our congregation.
Christ Church is called to be faithful to Christ. If there was a
conflict between loyalty to Christ and loyalty to our denomination, faithfulness would
call for obedience to Christ even if it meant disobedience to the denomination.
These concerns are urgent. Children are being killed through abortion
every day. The same sex union movement is growing and being accepted in our secular
culture. Errant doctrine is being taught as truth and thus people are being given false
hope, while Jesus continues as the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). An appropriate
response by Christ Church must include concerted action, not just more committee meetings
There will be a cost to our faithfulness in discipleship.
We feel that we are in agreement with the vast majority of United
Methodist Christians, though many may be unaware of the doctrinal and moral crises of the
denomination. Others within this majority are choosing not to take any action though they
have enough information to be deeply troubled.
United Methodist Christians often speak of our fellowship as
connectional. This is true, but a Christians first connection is to Christ Jesus.
Her first covenant is with the Lord God. His first book is Gods book. The first
voice we should heed is His. This priority may at times put us in conflict with Christian
family and friends.
Bishops are key in the renewal of our denomination. In The Pastoral
Statement from the Council of Bishops this spring they clarified their position on the
state of the church. They called for "renewed commitment to our doctrinal foundations
as contained in the Articles of Religion, the Confession of Faith and Wesleys
Sermons and Notes." They also called all "to ground the churchs actions
more deeply in the foundational doctrines and theological task as set forth in the Book of
Discipline." We celebrate their affirmation, but we must now lovingly hold them
accountable and encourage them to hold each other accountable.
We have a responsibility to be a part of the renewal of the United
Methodist denomination. We cannot close our ears and only focus on our local and
III. WE SEEK
We urge all official representatives of the United Methodist Church to
proclaim and uphold the basic doctrine of the Church and the position of the Church on the
ethical issues of sanctity of life and human sexuality as described in the Book of
We seek some recognition by Bishop Carder and the Council of Bishops
that there are representatives of the UMC who have taught doctrine and performed in ways
that are inconsistent with the "essentials" of our faith and policy as described
in the Biblical witness, Wesleyan theology, and the Book of Discipline.
We urge Bishop Carder and the Council of Bishops to provide
accountability to persons officially connected with the UMC who knowingly and persistently
take such actions and encourage others to do likewise. The Service of Consecration of
Bishops (The UM Book of Worship) challenges those in this office "to guard the faith,
to seek unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church."
We want our congregation to take some kind of action that will unify our
congregation, be effective in accomplishing the agreed upon goals, and not needlessly or
prematurely place our clergy in jeopardy under the Book of Discipline.
IV. WE ACT
In keeping with the principles of church discipline found in Matthew 18, and in order
to encourage the Bishops, Boards, Agencies, and other official representatives of the UMC
to remain loyal to the doctrine and ethics of our Wesleyan faith and discipline as
described in our Book of Discipline, and in order to make our contribution to the renewal
of the United Methodist denomination, Christ Church will:
Create a new standing committee to direct the renewal ministry of Christ
Church--the Barnabas Committee. This group will organize prayer for the denomination, do
research, respond to questions, distribute information, confirm or clarify
"hearsay," receive ideas, recruit volunteers, draft resolutions, and organize
and publicize other opportunities for involvement. The Barnabas Committee will work in
many different ways to encourage renewal in the United Methodist Church including:
Send vocal and informed laity and staff to the open meetings of the
General Board of Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society.
Keep our District Superintendent and Bishop informed of our work and
Begin work now on resolutions for the meeting of the Memphis Annual
Conference in 1999 and the General Conference in 2000.
Make information readily available to our membership so that they have a
conduit to act on their concerns. This will also involve easy access to the staff person
that is directing our renewal ministry. The Christ UMC home page on the Internet will be
used to give updates, addresses, phone numbers, etc. of persons, boards and agencies.
Include an update on Christ Churchs participation in the renewal
of the United Methodist Church at each regularly scheduled Administrative Board meeting
and communicate same in Tidings. The reporting should include progress as well as
Involve youth and young adults in discussions regarding action steps
that our congregation may take. Across the world and the centuries youth have generally
led movements of renewal, revival and awakening.
Coordinate and expand our involvement in The Confessing Movement within
the United Methodist Church.
Invite Bishop Carder to participate in a seminar at Christ Church on the
topic "unity in essentials." The dialogue on unity sponsored by the General
Commission on Christian Unity has illumined the doctrinal/theological chasm in United
Methodism and has clearly stated the extremes sustained in the Church. In response to the
commissions paper "In Search of Unity," we ask Bishop Carder to address
our church and community.
Give input to the General Council on Ministries. They are working on a
"common vision" that they will propose for the denominations mission and
ministry at the General Conference in 2000.
Explore the procedures and reasons for bringing charges or otherwise
holding accountable representatives of the UMC as provided in the Book of Discipline. Be
prepared to use the provided methods and help others do so as well.
Give input to the Connectional Process Team which was formed by General
Conference in 1996. Among other things they are exploring new ways to fund the work of the
denomination. The hope is that a way can be found which will allow local congregations to
have some decision in the support they will provide for the various aspects of the General
Churchs structure and ministry.
Participate with other United Methodist members and groups who will be
petitioning General Conference to restructure the church to provide accountability from
the Boards and Agencies.
Use our connections with UM churches in other countries. Offer them the
chance to create and submit petitions to General Conference with us.
Encourage Bishop Carder to respond to Bishop Talberts recent
statements regarding same sex unions. Bishop Talberts comments seem to be a breach
of the covenant that the Council of Bishops created in their last meeting. His statements
also seem to dispute the Pastoral Statement signed and released by all the bishops
following that meeting.
Write Bishop Talbert and all the other bishops in the Western
Jurisdiction and respectfully voice the concerns of our congregation regarding same sex
unions in light of the teaching of the Book of Discipline and the Scriptures.
Ask Bishop Carder to talk with us about his view on partial birth
abortion in light of Scripture and the Book of Discipline. Encourage him to communicate
his concerns with Dr. Thom Fassett, the General Board of Church and Society and the
Council of Bishops.
Write Dr. Thom Fassett and the Board of Directors of the General Board
of Church and Society and respectfully voice the concerns of our congregation regarding
partial birth abortions in light of the teaching of the Book of Discipline and the
Ask Bishop Carder and the Council of Bishops to respond to statements
and actions emanating from the Women's Division of the Board of Global Ministries that
deviate from biblical teaching and ignore the theological doctrines in the Book of
Staff Parish Relations Committee of Christ Church will need to provide
professional and support staff assistance for the work of the Barnabas Committee.
As a human organization the United Methodist Church will always have
struggles due to the sinfulness and limitations of its members and leaders. However, we,
the Administrative Board of Christ United Methodist Church, feel that it is not
unreasonable to expect some measurable, positive response to our stated concerns by the
leaders of the denomination. In keeping with the Barnabas Plan, the Administrative Board
will periodically evaluate the response of the denomination and take action as it deems
appropriate. If, after a reasonable period of time, Christ Church sees neither an adequate
response nor substantial improvement by the denomination and our efforts to renew the
denomination have failed, the congregation will seriously consider using the redirection
of apportionments or other methods to restore the denomination. Consistent with the
accountability guidelines Jesus provides in Matthew 18, after the other reconciling steps
have been taken, a faithful and loving response involves more radical action. Due to the
structural changes necessary for denominational renewal, it may be the end of the year
2000 (after General Conference) before significant progress is achieved.