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Concerned Laity of Heretic Bishop's Churches Ask Where's The Recommended Dialogues To Deal With Heresy

NIC VOICE Letter to Active Bishops of the United Methodist Church

The grass roots laity movement NIC (Northern Illinois Conference)  VOICE concerned about the dismissal of the complaint of heresy against Chicago Methodist Bishop Joseph Sprague and ongoing doctrinal concerns within the United Methodist Church has reached out to all active bishops requesting a response regarding the implementation of recommendations made by the response team in the dismissal.

Following is the text of the letter in its entirety.  The letters were mailed to each bishop on September 5, 2003 and included 51 authorized signatures by both laity and clergy within the Northern Illinois Conference and other conferences throughout the United States:

NIC VOICE is a growing network of concerned laity whose purpose is to provide balanced information and dialog within the Northern Illinois Conference of the UMC about Doctrinal Issues raised by the Bishop Sprague Complaint & Dismissal.   In the six months since the dismissal, NIC VOICE has been educating laity with our web site and by offering the Watershed Moment Presentation at locations within the Northern Illinois Conference.  The web site has generated interest in the UMC throughout the United States and countries around the world.

During our presentations and through comments to our web site, we are being asked questions regarding the Supervisory Response Team Recommendations. 

So far, we've had to advise that we are unaware of any public dialogue led by the Council of Bishops.  We would appreciate your help in responding to questions about the status of the following two Response Team recommendations: 

1.       Response Team Recommendation 1:

“Bishop Sprague and the complainants participate in a third party facilitated dialogue on the theological and doctrinal issues presented in this case. Further, we recommend this dialogue be open to the public. The purpose of the dialogue would be to discover and explore the points of continuity or disconnect between the traditional and new interpretations of our doctrinal statements.”

Question:  In keeping with the first recommendation, has this third party facilitated dialogue begun?

Question:  If not, when will it begin and what is the format to permit the involvement of laity?

2.       Response Team Recommendation 2:

“The Council of Bishops take immediate steps to enter into serious theological reflection on issues of Christology, Biblical authority and the mission of the Church. Further, we recommend this process be open to the public and bring to the table persons to represent the wide range of theological thought present in our denomination. Further, we recommend the Council develop means to invite the entire Church into similar study and reflection. In effect, this process was begun when several bishops made public responses to Bishop Sprague’s lecture at Iliff.”

Question:  In keeping with the second recommendation, has the Council of Bishops proceeded with a public “serious theological reflection on issues of Christology, Biblical authority and the mission of the Church” specifically related to the doctrinal issues raised in the complaint

Question:  If not, what are the plans to proceed on this and how will the Council “develop means to invite the entire Church to similar study and reflection”?

We would appreciate your thoughtful responses to these questions, which we intend to share with our network and those who have signed this letter.  For your reference, the Supervisory Response Team document and additional information about NIC VOICE is enclosed in the print copy that you will receive by mail, and links are provided for you in this email.

In the name of Jesus Christ,


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