Foreword

Acknowledgements

Julie

Visible Problem Indicators

Stewardship

Agents of Change - Issues

Institutional Dynamics

The Institutional and the Local Church

Operative Theology

Prognosis for the Future

Revival - What is Needed?

Closing Remarks

Chapter Six
The Institutional and the Local Church

It is understood that in the workings of organizational entities, there will be friction and misunderstandings. But we have encountered multiple instances where this seemed excessive, as if the local churches were being abused. Several case studies which exemplify a variety of problems between various people in the institutional church and local churches: Ocracoke UMC on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina (Appendix N); First UMC of Omaha, Nebraska (Appendix O); Salem UMC of Lodi, California (Appendix P); St. Francis UMC in San Francisco, California (Appendix Q); First UMC of Kingsburg, California (Appendix R); First UMC of Marietta, Georgia (Appendix S); and Camp Ground UMC of Fayetteville, North Carolina (Appendix T). For instance, at Salem UMC of Lodi, California, 27 people were notified that they had been removed from the rolls of the UMC. Following are three others with more summarized information:

High Point District (Western North Carolina Conference). According to information given to us, Richard Crowder, superintendent of the High Point district, closed Randolph Hills UMC, a viable, working church, and turned it into his own district office.

Seibert UMC, Seibert, Colorado (Rocky Mountain Conference). As the situation was reported to us, the D.S. went into the local bank and asked to look at the account for the Seibert UMC. The clerk informed the president, who attended that church. The D.S. was told, that there was no way that he would be permitted to look at the account. The people, alerted to this action, opened other bank accounts with no direct connection to their church and operated from them. They then safeguard their assets, accumulated sufficient funds, purchased their church from the conference, and then formed an independent church.

Hillrose UMC, Hillrose, Colorado (Rocky Mountain Conference). As the situation was reported to us by Mr. Gene Peterson and Mrs. Jo Ann Windolf who belong to the church, the members of their congregation had accumulated $16,000 to pay for repairs on the building to the roof and the windows, and to paint the church. According to Mr. Peterson, the people are farmers and that money "came pretty hard" as he put it. A pastor that they had (and who did not have legal access to the church's bank account) took the money and cleaned out the safe deposit box; later the conference sold the parsonage. Subsequently, the district superintendent locked the doors of the church and left town. Since the people had keys to the building, they would open it on Sundays and have their own laity-led church services. When officials from the conference found out about this, they changed the locks on the building. Through subsequent negotiations, the people bought the church for $8,000 (which they termed a "ransom") with a note signed by Mr. Peterson. Mrs. Windolf, who is a farmer's wife herself, said, "People just don't know to what lengths they [i.e., the conference] will go to get their hands on property that isn't theirs." The people had bought the land and the building, paid for its upkeep, and cared for it over the years. Both indicated that the people of the church are pretty bitter over what happened. As a result of these and other actions in the conference, they projected that other United Methodist churches in the area would soon close due to decreased attendance: Snider (3-4 people), Antelope Springs (3-4 people), and Willard.

In personal correspondence, how many times do we see letters begin or conclude with "Grace and peace" yet the words and actions that follow reflect the opposite? This dissonance seems to apply to "interconnetionalism."


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