Episode 115: The Once and Future United Methodist Church with Drew McIntyre and Ben Gosden

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Today, we will talk about what’s going on United Methodist Church, how it got to this point that's it's splitting in two and what is the future of the church. I’m talking with not one, but two guests. Drew McIntryre is a frequent guest on Church and Main and is the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ben Gosden is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Methodist in Savannah, GA and this is his second time on the podcast. We had a great discussion that is actually broken up into two parts. The main part is about the United Methodists in General and a smaller part talks about the former Bishop and writer Will Willimon, his role in the UMC and what it means to be an institutionalist. One quick note; Ben had some technical issues, which I tried to fix, but if there are still glitches that’s what it is.

I hope you enjoyed the episode. Just a reminder that it takes a lot to make great content like this available to you. Consider making donation by going to Church and Main’s website at churchandmain.org

Hey everyone. A quick note. I had originally planned to split up this interview into two parts, but there were just a lot of difficulties in trying to get this UM off and running and trying to split split things up. So in the end, I just decided to have the entire episode altogether as one. So where I talked about that there are two parts of this there is, there's just one. So with that, I hope you enjoyed this UM episode. I did enjoy actually taking part of it. Production wasn't as fun, but I did enjoy being able to interview with both then Andrew, So I hope you enjoyed this episode. Yeah, the Great Methodist Schism. This is episode one fifteen of Church and Maine. Hello, and welcome to Church in Maine. This is the podcast. It is at the intersection of faith and modern life. And I'm gonna Sanders your host. You know, it's been a while since I've really introduced myself, so I'm just gonna take a few moments here to tell you who I am. Um. I am entertained minister in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, and I passed her a congregation of Deeple of Christ Congregation in Roseville, Minnesota, which is a suburb of Minneapolis. UM. I was trained as a journal journalist, and I've had probably about fifteen twenty years of experience in UH communication, UM, social media, websites, all that, UM and so, but that training as a journalist has remained with me. So I kind of look at religion, especially mainline Protestantism progressive Christianity, where I am kind of found with a critical eye UM. And so that's kind of the point of this podcast is to look at mainline Protestantism UM from a unique perspective UM, and to kind of look at the stories of things that are going on. So. As I said, I am Dennis Sanders, UM, and this is a podcast on religion and public affairs UM. And recently I was surfing the web and I stumbled across the story about UM UM. St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, which is located in Plain, Texas, which is a suburb Dallas. UM. The six thousand member congregation voted this month to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church was one of the largest denominations in America, and St. Andrew is only one of five Methodist churches just in Texas that have either disaffiliated or are planning to affiliate. And that's according to the United Methodist News Service. The reason for the departure, well, it's the same thing that has caused splits among the Anglican Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians, and that is saying sex marriages and allowing gay clergy to serve in the life of the church. This in a news UH quote news press release. UH Senior Pastor Arthur Jones and Executive Committee chair Kathy King said this, Well, we have been prayerfully studying this issue, studying this for years. The time has come for St. Andrew to decide his own path. Now many conservative churches such as St. Andrew's already camping and they're actually going to to the newly formed Global Methodist Church. UM. St. And Andrew internestly is not going to join the Global Methodist Church, but will remain independent. Today we're going to talk about what's going on in the United Methodist Church, how it got to this point, and what's the future for the church. I am not going to be talking with just one guest, but actually too. UH. Drew McIntyre is a frequent guest here on church in Maine and he is the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. And I will also be talking with Ben Gosden, who is the senior pastor of Trinity United Methodist in Savannah, Georgia. And this is his second time on the podcast. And we had a great discussion that is actually going to be broken up into two parts. The...

...main part is about the United Methodists in general, and then we'll actually there's a smaller part where we'll be talking about um focusing on the former bishop and writer Will Willman, his role in the United Methodist Church and what it means to be an institutionalist. Um. Just a quick note, Uh, Ben had some technical issues, so we kind of had to stop and start a few times. I've tried to fix it the best I can, but if there are still some glitches, UM no, that's what it is. With that, let's listen to Ben and Drew. All right, Well, Ben and Drew, thanks for joining me today. Good to be here. Good to be with you again. Dennis and Ben. We've shared a lot of the same digital space before, but never actually interacted like quasi real people, so it's nice to to quote unquote meet you in the most real way that we have thus far. It really is. I'm hoping the interwebs doesn't blow up now because we have had so much Twitter interaction that they on camera and it's just it's it's mind boggle with you again, Dennis, all right, and good to be with you guys again both. Um. I think this has kind of started things off, is UM to kind of get your your viewpoint on where things are at in the Methodist world. Um, we're kind of in this run up to the next UM General conference, which is which is UM the twice postponed General conference. Um, how are things where do you think you see things going right now? Where? Where are we in the world? And I'll let you start, Drew, Yeah, sure, Um yeah, I think we are in a sort of slow moving you know, lava flow like schism due to a various and sundry causes. Because you know, there was this wonderful thing called the Protocol proposed, which I liked very much. I thought it was the closest thing to something indegable, fair and just all involved UM, and it seemed to have some momentum. But after not after COVID and not having a general conference, not being able to actually vote on that legislation. What what that's meant is that there is no across the board um understanding of method of churches saying goodbye to the UMC. And so it's been up to basically individual bishops and conference boards of trustees asked to what sort of um fees and other processes they want to put two churches that want to exit. So you have a mix of you know, in my view, some conferences that are in general kind of fair and clear about their process all the way to some where it's almost impossible practically for the vast majority of congregations to to leave if they want to, and in some cases clergy being treated more or less fair if they want to go, and some not being treated fairly. And I'm sure, like like Bennam and the others, I have friends on the ugly side of this on both sides. I have friends whose churches are disaffiliating and they're struggling, and friends who their churches disaffiliating and their remaining and it's just hard. It's hard on everyone. Um So it's it's really sad, and it couldn't it didn't have to be this way. And I'll stop talking there. Yeah, I think Drew's pretty spot on. The only thing, and I don't know if I would disagree with Drew so much as echo everything he said, but maybe say, as a child of divorced parents, the idea that this wasn't going to turn out this way, I think was idealistic at best. This was this, this was destined to be difficult. Um. I'm convinced now situationally, does it have to be as difficult as some conferences are making it or some churches are making it? Probably not, um. But as a whole, what we're doing is going through a process. And I know that that we can put an optimistic twist on It's multiple nation, it's not divorced and all that. But...

...what we're doing is we're saying goodbye to what was in order to turn the page to welcome something new, in which means that something is is dying to make room for something new. That's what changes. I don't I think we are are so especially in the main line, we are so shaped by the broader culture that we don't even know how to think and talk in other categories aside from left and right, your side, my side. The only thing I would add to that is I don't really watch much professional wrestling anymore, but I still sort of follow it. And there's a saying in the wrestling business that if it don't make dollars, it don't make sense. And the only reason that a denomination ostensibly built on the grace of God and its various manifestations would be so at each other's throat over this is because there there are a lot of assets and dollars to be had or lost. We're i think, is the same thing you saw in the Episcopal church break up and UM and the people who the people most dependent on denominational dollars for their livelihood are the people making the decisions about how gracious or not to be in these breakups and stuff. So a lot of these bishops and things like that, there their salary comes from not you know, as much local church funds, but like general denominational funds, they have every incentive to keep as many dollars et cetera in the in the pot as possible. And that's a little cynical, but it's also just how I see it. Was there a way or do you think that we've come to a point where the UM Native Methodists as it's construed or has been construed over the last fifty years, has kind of outlived its usefulness. One of my favorite seminary professors, Ed Phillips, said that you can always count on the Methodist Church to be the cutting edge of thirty years ago and and and the question for me is, in this phase of our life as an American institution, can we finally get ahead of ourselves and not be thirty years behind and figuring out what this next season of life is? And I wonder maybe we could, I mean this is optimistic. Maybe we could begin to model for the greater society what it means to disagree with each other, love each other and and and respect, whether it is to hold disagreements in the same denomination or bless those who want to to have a paralleled denomination but a different expression. I mean to me, how we treat each other in this is gonna say a lot for the new season of ministry. Are we out to win or we out to model what it means to love each other? So I don't know if I would say we've outlived who we are. I just think we're having trouble finding finding what traction on what that new new season of what it means to be Methodist is and how would you think about that? Drew? Yeah, I resonate with a lot of what what Ben just said. And I love Ed. Ed was my advisor at Duke before he went to Tokadler Um. I love Ed. Um. Yeah, I do think we're overdue for something. You know, there was a big effort, I believe in twelve, the call to Action to try to restructure us denominationally and reemphasize the local church more and um all this sort of good missional alignment, all the good buzzwords and things, and I think it actually would have been good. But it turns out that there are so many different um entrenched groups. That's the one thing the conservative wing of the church and the rowing at the church, and if you want to call it a different way in the institutionalist wing of the church could agree on is um not to not to change significantly. So that failed badly in so something has had to give. This in particular, that's sort of the sexuality debate, marriage debate in the church the last ten of twenty years. I think it's really boiled over. And if there is going to be something new in the life of the church. This question has to be cells in some fashion because eating up a lot of our energy and resources UM at the denominational level and everywhere else. I'm I don't know if I'm as optimistic as Ben is about if our denomination can be the model of how to disagree. Well, I think the local church can do that. I think that's very possible in the local church setting. I've seen some of that happened at my church, and you know, I'm in a place where i'm we had a kind of a kind of a town hall meeting recently about what's happening in the denomination. And my church is is um mostly progressive folks, you know, moderate to progressive...

...folks, but we have some conservatives there. And I was very careful to say, you know, this is this is not a story of heroes and villains, of good guys and bad guys. There are people of sincere faith that love Jesus and love their neighbor that disagree on this. And we're gonna be a church where we're staying in the UMC and we're gonna love o our members of the church and our neighbors who are LGBT. UM if you're someone that's still trying to figure out how you you know, how you understand all that with the Bible and your your understanding, We're gonna love you in the midst of that, wants to be a part of this community too. And it went great and it was you know, people were affirmed in that. And we had people stand up and say, you know, I'm I'm more conservative, but I love this church and I want to be here, and we said, we love you, we want you. You know that can happen at local level. UM. The problem is has been very put it very well. For better or for worse, we tend to uh mimic the larger culture, and as soon as you get a bunch of people that know each other in the form of general conference, it gets nasty very quick. Why do you think that we want to have heroes and villains? I shared this story. I grew up UM many different flavors of Baptist before I came to the Disciples UM, and I wasn't a church in d C. That was American Baptist UM and Southern. And it was at a time in the early nineties when, especially within the American Baptist m the issue on sexuality was also kind of roiling, and they decided to call um a pastor there that have been a member, but to to the staff, and she was someone who was very much in favor of lgbt Q inclusion, and that was controversy. And one of the members um in the kind regregation, who is kind of from the more evangelical part of that congregation, stood up and said, we don't agree. We but she's my friend, and you know we want to support her. Um. I don't see that type of thing happening in anywhere in our culture, especially the church. And it seems that we do have to want to have heroes and villains. Why why why is that? Why can we not find a way of seeing someone who disagrees not as a as an enemy, but as a as a fellow sister brother in Christ either one. I mean, I'll I'll say I've really enjoyed the work of Jonathan Height. I think it works prety important where we are in the US right now. And I when I teach, I teach Christian ethics on occasion different places, and often will start with him because he gives this interesting his sort of whole kind of moral foundation psychology I think gives us some neutral ways of thinking about how different people understand and construct their own morality. And I think absent something like that because we are disciples by cable news and pundits and podcasters, not not us, of course, we're the exception, um, because we're Yeah, because we're disciples by that and that those sort of vicious habits. I think we often are not capable of seeing each other as anything but here heroes or pure villains, and certainly that's been the case. I mean, you know, Uh, if you follow methodism on Twitter, it's it's a wild it's a wild time, as I'm sure you've both seen. Um. way, but I think it's another way in which, you know, the mainline tends to go with the culture for better for worse, and in this instance it's for worse. Yeah, I think, Um, that's a great way to put it through. I think that, Um, we're formed by story, you know, so to a degree, good guys versus bad guys has been a part of our formation since we were young. You know, it's easy, it's easy to put people in categories good guys, bad guys, white hats, black hats, you know, all that kind of stuff. It's it's just it's it's it's what we're formed by. I think there's that, But I also think it's easy and lazy and um not surprising that when we don't take the time to do intentional, hard things like build relationships,...

...we are more prone to put people into those categories. So take the story that you shared about the local church story. That's actually not an uncommon thing. I know a lot of churches who are trying to reconcile when they say we want to disaffiliate, but we love gay people. Now. I tend to fall in the category that says, I don't know if you really know what you're saying here, because you're saying two different things with what you're wanting to do and then what you're saying as a local church. But for them, they they're like, but we've got we we we would love the gay person who came here, who we got to know. What all they're saying is once we put a person on an issue, we're gonna love the person. My my issue is, why don't we do the hard work of putting names and faces on issues more so we can try to avoid this lazy way of of of of villainizing um each other, because for most of us, even in our difference that we know that we don't live in a world of black and white. We know there's nuance to everybody. The issue is we're just too darned lazy to actually, you know, make the effort to get to know it. So it's a lot easier for me to say, you know that Drew McIntyre, look at what he tweeted. Now I'm gonna assume fifteen things about him over one tweet, rather than like saying, let me get to know this guy a little bit, you know, surely, And and we're always more complex than our online personnas portray or the issue or the single issues that we may or may not support. So it's it's it's on the one hand, formation by story and on the other hand, lack of formation and in a discipleship that says I need to make an effort to know and love you before I judge you. There's a great Ted talk called the danger of a single story. You've you've probably seen it, but it gets at this and this idea that if we don't one thing about a person, we know everything else about them. And you know, what I often say is that the best thing about about Twitter is that it's not real life. And in the local church you do have people who are complex and disagree on things but still love each other, and um, you know, are are in the midst of figuring stuff out. And UM, I think that's that's so crucial. Um. I think Ben's right. I think if if you there's a laziness to the heroes and villains narrative, that and we see it a lot in the UMC, and we see it on both sides, right, So the a lot of times what I see is progressives can't picture um Methodist conservatives as anything other than sort of the hardcore ultra uh, you know, Calvinists who don't believe women in ministry and are completely fundamentalists, right, which is actually kind of hard to find in the UMC, even among our conservatives. By the same token, conservatives have a hard time picturing folks to the right of them as anything but sort of John Spong, you know, crazy liberal types. And they'll send a video, they'll they'll see something crazy on the internet and send it out and it represents all liberals or all progressives and so we we we do that, I think ause it simplifies things and if you're trying to raise money and raise hackles, then it's pretty effectively. Do you think part of it also is um? You know, in our in the wider culture, we have a lot of groups that in some ways rely on this kind of polarization. I mean they feed off of it and literally make money off of it. Um. Is that happening within the church? Are there groups that basically this is their livelihood and and that this is you know, for them to continue you kind of have to kind of keep the fires burning. Yeah, I mean there's groups I don't I don't know if we want to go through naming them, but but yeah, there's there's interest groups who have who have emerged um over the years, um that that fuel help fuel this, help push this money, a good bit of money. You know, it goes into I I think the generous thing to call them is para church groups. Um. But yeah, they yeah, they exist. Um, everyone's got a good motive to help restore the United Methodist Church, but everybody's got their own bills to pay to and survival is is the utmost skull yeah, and the institution has it as well. Right, there's this UM I don't know. Again, maybe I'm cynical. The hashtag b UMC stuff I find very uncompelling. UM the I don't know.

Everyone's got an agenda. And I say this to my church when we're talking about it, I say, the first thing you have to know is there is no one that's neutral in this conversation, including myself. No one is unbiased. Everyone you know has a stake in it in some way. And so be aware of wherever your information is coming from, because um you know, even all the ill I mean an example of this, and Ben feel free to disagree with me, because a lot of people do, and that's fine. One of the common refrains we're hearing in the UMC right now, especially from bishops and denomination leaders, is there's nothing to worry about because our doctrine doesn't change right now. To be fair, from my view, some conservatives are overstating this idea that like when the when the Conservatives leave, then within ten years the UMC is gonna start hating Jesus and denying the resurrection. That's all overwrought. Now, there are examples you could point to that are troubling, UM. But the response to that has been our doctrinal standards that are in the Book of Discipline never change, they can't be changed, and we're gonna always believe these things. The problem with that is it not as is that it's um. It is true, but useless. It's not a lie. It's that the doctoral standards don't matter if they're not actually functioning as standards in our seminaries, d coms, boards, ordain ministry, if they don't actually function as guard rails for us, it doesn't matter. If they don't change, they just have to be ignored. To me, that's a little bit propagandistic the way that those have been touted as don't worry, nothing's gonna change because we have standards on paper. To me, that's an example of the uh, the overstatement. I'll say, the institutionalist side of things. But it's happening everywhere and how is um. You know what has brought about this fear of changes in doctrinal standards. I think what what people are responding to is so I'll say to this, I've heard, UM, I know a lot of GMC folks, w c A folks that are that are really good people, super honest, etcetera, etcetera. UM. I've also heard from folks who were at these meetings what I would call at best over statements UM. And it's something like a professor at one of our seminaries set x ergo. The next preacher you get that comes from that seminary is probably not going to believe in the resurrection and not believe in Trinity or whatever. UM to this notion that because of particular a particular person went off the rails on doctrine, that the whole church is heading that way, some of that stuff has been overstated. As a response to that, the bishops others have been saying, well, we have doctrinal standards, and which is true. It's just kind of a useless data point. So I guess one of the things I wanna I'm curious about. I mean, we've been talking about the the UMC is to talk about the the global Methodist Church. What is you know from what you from what both of you have learned or as um in your respective conferences. What is it all about? How are they going to be governing themselves? How are things turning out so far? My conference actually has already named a provisional annual conference for the Global Methodist Church the South Georgia g MC. A few of them inst have joined it. UM. I think there's a president protein now who's a good friend. UM. You know, they haven't constituted yet, but they're they're having the beginnings of the makings of of sort of functioning as an annual conference. I assume if someone's moving there, they're going to try to do appointments in the spring. UM. I mean the GMC, really, the book of discipline is not that different than the current UMC discipline. UM. I mean there's some jots and tittles here and there, and you know, my friend who's our President pro tem of the GMC would probably say, you know, there's still things up to be decided, like it's not written in stone just yet. You know, there's it's still in process and formation and and all that's fine. I mean, I and then this is where I kind of have a little bias. I. I believe the GMC is forming to solidify people's views that UH marriage...

...is between a man and a woman only, and that ordination UH is to be observed by UM heterosexual or nonpracticing homosexual persons. Those are the two main drivers forming it. And the reason I say that is the GMC Book of Discipline. Other than those two things really are not that different than the current UMC discipline. I think there's probably some clarity around some theological language with with UM, you know, the vision for ministry and beliefs. UM. I think there are some very brilliant scholars in the GMC who are taking this as an opportunity to really build upon some some language to add clarity to to their theology, which is not a bad thing at all, But from a practical standpoint, UM, I mean, there's some little things here and there. But again I'm careful not to say these are written in stone just yet, because I think some things could change or be be applied differently. UM, and I have some friends pushing pretty hard for some clarity around things like the sacraments. There's a lot of practical theologians in the GMC in the early days forming these things, and it's doesn't It's like a square peg and around hole when you get people who are overly pragmatic trying to trying to define how to administer the sacraments. What I just said is very is to administration is a practical thing, but it comes from such a deep and rich, mysterious theology that needs both clarity and depth and all these things that that the pure pragmatists among us are like, Yeah, I don't have time for all that deep. Let's just let's just say we're gonna not baptize babies, or let's say we will, or let's say we do dedications, or let's say. And I got friends who are like, dude, I'm Wesley, but you better get some clarity around these sacraments before I join your your your denomination. So there's a lot of things in flux Um. Still, I think there's some interesting things like term limits on bishops um, more localized authority and appointment making, more flexibility around connectional giving. Although Drew, this is where my cynicism comes out. All my GMC friends are like, we're not praying apportionments for two years and there's not I'm like, talking to me inten fifteen years, taught to me inten fifteen years. When y'all, when y'all actually have people you're paying for whose jobs it is to keep your connection together, and talk to me about how you don't have any apportionments. Still, you're gonna have something. If you're gonna be connectional, there's gonna be money involved that at some point you're gonna have to say, yeah, guys, we kinda Otherwise you're just a congregationalist movement and that, and they don't want to be that. And I appreciate the folks who are pushing to say no, we have to be connectional here. Um So, so I'm skeptical that the flexibility on apportionments are gonna be long term. I think it's a nice thing to get you in the door. I also, I also contend, now this is just speculation for me, there's a selling point on there's no trust clause in in the GMC. That's another one that I'm like, Mmmm, talk to me inten fifteen years and tell me that there isn't some involvement of property and accountability at some point, because how else do you ensure that a church stays accountable to a connectional body. Now I'm sure there's all kinds of arguments whatever, but I'm just saying practical purposes, I think some form of some property involvement could probably coming to play for the GMC at some point, just like I think some form of connectional giving will eventually increase to some point that leaving thing out drew. No, No, I'm glad you got to the party differences because I was gonna say that the theology outside of the marriage stuff. I think you're You're correct. There are some and I said this to my church at our town hall. Look, there are things the GMC is doing that I I think are are right. Like I a dead horse have a meeting for a long time. Is that our version of my tinerancy is something that was irrelevant fifty years ago and should be done away with, I think are what we do for see, how we deploy clergy leadership is is stupid. Frankly, Um, I think think it was in a meeting one time where I actually said some big muckety muck like I don't want to hear about innovation from people that are committed to this system that was outdated seventy years ago. Um, just for those Methodists, how would you define itinerancy? Sure? Tinerancy you know goes back to the John Wesley going on horseback from from community to community, spreading the gospel in the American frontier under Asbury and his his followers. UM. It was the system where I tenerant elders. Um.

We we're sent from place to place, you know usually uh, we're called a circuit um instead of being in one place. So your preacher didn't have a local church. The preacher went from this community to this community, this community. And the best thing about that was it encouraged a lot of lay ownership and my leadership. UM. It was also a system that was designed for a single minute on horseback who died by forty UM. It was not designed for clergy couples, UM, people who were married and had kids and families and UM. If you're wondering if this is personal to me, it is because as I was going through the ordination process, I kept being told that UM, having a spouse who was also a professional was UM somehow made my calling less then or made me less committed to my calling. And I took it a little bit personally. So I still feel feelings about it. But that's what we mean by its itinerancy. So it's what now. What it means is Ben and I, when the bishop calls, we have to go where we're sent within the bounds of our conference. UM with depending on your context. Little to know, maybe input from either the clergy person or the the church really depends on the bishop and the DS. Is that is that a fair description? Yeah? Um, so you know, the GMC not having that, I think makes a whole lot of sense. I think clergy and churches should have, you know, more say and who who comes because you know, my d S who's awesome, has like a hundred and fifty churches. There's no way she can know the culture of all those places and who's going to be a good fit and who's not. Um. So that's that's one example I have a lot of respect for. There were some really brilliant minds in the GMC, and some of my friends and professors or people that help write that provisional book thing, they call it the Book of Doctrines and Disciplines. UM. So I think it'll be it'll be interesting to see how how things go in the future. You know. One of the things I keep being struck by is, um how many of my colleagues are deeply concerned and bothered by the formation of the GMC. And I've been a little annoyed at people who never seem to be bothered by the continual failure and dwindling of the U m C are deeply concerned about the formation of the GMC, and to me, it's just total distraction. I would much rather try to build in my own house than worry about what else what someone's doing in a in a new place, that they're going to bless them, let them go. We're gonna be neighbors. We need to be able to get along the same way that you know tech our Anglicans in America need to be able to get along and love each other. Yeah. Why do you think that people get upset about them? And I've seen this in there. I was serving on staff um a local presbytery on staff, but you know, not a Presbyterian, but you know, people were upset about that body that was created out of the split from the Presbyterian Church USA. Is it that they're just mad that people are leaving, or that the money is going or what is it that makes them are all upset? I think we're always jealous of the new thing. It's jealousy, you know. I think it's it's insecurity and this jealousy, you know, we you know that that meme where the girl is walking and the guys walking with her and he's got his head turned and there's a pretty girl behind him, and it's always like a thing about like you know, we're we're the girl who's walking, you know, getting jealous that some clergy and churches are looking at this new thing, going oh, I want to be a part of that um And we can call it all kinds of things, but you know, I think there there are some nuances to how we handle it that some have not always operated with utmost integrity, and I think that's problematic. But I just think we get hurt feelings because change is hard, um, you know, by the same token you know, GMC folks or message boards or videos. I don't know where all the stuff roots from anymore, but you know, spreading things like you know, the Methodist Church is about to deny the virgin birth and the lordship of Jesus. It's like, no, we're not. You're just saying stuff now to to just frighten people like to me. And I feel this way about both institutionals who want you to stay you and see and GMC people who want you to go. Is if you feel like you have the truth on your side, then why not just speaking openly and honestly. Why do you have to either make up stories or spread of falsehoods or or or try to...

...shame Just tell the truth that you think you have. You know, there's all kinds of ways of manipulating conversations. You know, we're not going to allow this. We are going to allow this. And I'm like, if you're up there telling the truth, why do you need to fix the conversation just speaking? There are plenty of issues in the um See what I having to make some up? Oh yeah, oh gosh, I'm with you there. I mean, don't please, We're gonna firm the apostles creed, but there's a whole lot of other things that we need to get to work in all like yesterday. Well, that actually brings me up to the next question is then, what is the future for the UMC post excuse him or break up or whatever we're calling this. I asked good question because I mean which part? Because I think the quote unquote post is gonna last for probably the next two quadrennia. I don't think we we I don't think we get to the post until that's me um. I think I think what we have begun is not anywhere close to being finished in terms of splitting. Um, my speculative assumptions are that two things will happen at the General Conference, and this is about all the room they have for parliamentary procedure and committee work in a two week span. We're methodist, which means that we're very methodical, which means we love nothing more than to make everything a uniform process, whether it's our hymnal, our book of worship. Will make everything uniform as best we can. And so I think General Conference, because people say, what do you think, you know, will the language get dropped? I don't think so. I think what will happen is they're gonna take what's happening in in spots and circles and certain areas of the connection and try to make it uniform. And so paragraph three, which has an expiration date on it, that has the terms and conditions for disaffiliation, I think they will try to quote unquote make it the law of the land and and make the process of disaffiliation more uniforms so that a church in South Georgia which really follows very stringently paragraph and nothing more that that the same process can be held in another conference where right now they're adding cost and and and hurdles and fees and things like that. So I think they're gonna try to uniform the process, to leave to say, here's the window, here's the process. Everybody has to follow the same thing by the same token. There are areas of the connection that currently are observing a sea season of abeyance, where weddings are happening, ordinations are happening, same sex weddings and lgbt Q ordinations, and basically the conferences are turning a blind die saying we're just we're giving abeyance, no charges. So the language hasn't changed in the discipline, but the abeyance is in effect. I think in abeyance across the board is going to happen as well, which would then put the power into the hands of the local church and the annual conference. Churches would then choose, are we gonna do weddings now knowing that our pastor won't have charges for this season, or where our annual conference boarder ministry put up lgbt Q um uh folks for ordination and will we pass them. So that's where the two things are handled, and and that abeyance I think is going to get UM put into effect across the board. I don't think any language change happens until Drew. Do you think it happens differently? No, You're you're guests is as good as good as mine, and UM, I think you're right that it's not gonna happen quickly. I think in terms of the UMC in the next ten twenty years, probably the most impactful thing will be what do the majority of the African conferences do? You really don't know? People think that, well, Africa is more socially theologically conservatives, so I was gonna leave was actually much more complex than that for a variety of very complex and so we really don't. I don't know. UM, I think that will be the most impactful thing in terms of when does language change? If so, UM, what does that look like? Things like that? You know, I I suspect that in the same way that we're sort of following the Episcopal and pc USA and Lutheran playbook, but ten twenty years later, I suspect it will be the same thing with us. And what that means is UM further institutional decline. Most likely on the on...

...the broad scale, UM possibly will find new things to fight about. This has been true. And you know in the pc U s A they moved on to to fighting about divesting from Israel in their funds and various things. So unfortunately there are you will need something to fight about, and so we'll probably find some new things to fight about. I still believe that I still believe in connectionalism. I still believe that denomination serve a purpose. And if you don't listen to the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast, UM, I often say that the only thing worse than organized religion is disorganized religion. So it's frustrating as denominations can be. Um. As I told my church, like, we need to have some kind of accountability. There needs to be someone above your pastor that if I go off the you know, go off the rails one day, um, that can you know, or have some kind of deep personal crisis, there's someone that says they need to take a take, take five, take a break for right now. Um. So as in some ways cynical as I am about the institution, I do still see it serving a valuable purpose. And the other piece of this is and I tell us to my friends all the time, I have some friends are like, you're you're staying, but you see all these things about the U m C. And yes, I still feel all those things about the UMC. But it's also the place to which I'm called. It's where I was baptized and ordained, and it's where I'm I'm called to be for now. And there's also nowhere to go. There's not some kind of problem, whether it's the problems of old institutions, the problems of new institutions, the problems of no institution. Uh, there are no problem free situations. It's just a matter of choosing what set of problems you want to deal with any given done. Yeah, what is going to happen with agencies and things like seminaries, um you know, publishing house with Big Coke's Barry or some of the other things are those? Is there something that just has them as a part of the UMC, or or do they choose or what happens? I think a lot are broadening some regulations and rules of good examples of the United Methodist Women renamed themselves the United Women in Faith, anticipating that they wanted chapters in both denominations. West Path our our pension agency they've been ahead of everybody for ten years. Westpath quietly announced I think ten years ago, Drew, you may know better that that. They just quietly said, hey, y'all know we can support more than one denomination. And at the time everybody said, oh, you mean in the pan Wesleyan movement. And now they're going, Now we meant when you guys split because they knew it was coming to UM seminaries are gonna be fine. They're all the you know, the good news about United Methodist seminaries. For for many of them, there's a few heavyweights who have so much endowed money that they will navigate and can almost operate independently. Now some smaller seminaries will will struggle and need to kind of navigate how that unfolds for them. UM a lot of the conference wide agencies, you know, or I'm a part of a couple in South George. I'm sure Drew's part of some in North Carolina. They're already beginning to talk about how are we going to have a board that's made up with GMC members UMC members so that our vision can can cross. I mean they sort of know these things are kind of coming. I think the smart ones are going to get ahead of it to say how can we grow and really use to split as a multiplication. Um Uh. Those who get to doggedly you know, um in one camp or the other have they have to be careful um that they don't end up marginalizing themselves out of the future. M hm. Another example of that, I think it's happening in most places. But like we have a a Conference Foundation, which is where a lot of Mephist churches have their endowments and investments, like like my church does the same thing with Westpath. Those agencies are are saying, hey, if you go GMC, we can we can still be your you know, your investment people will still take care of your money for you. Um. I think denominationally, there were recently some big budget cuts past I mean a lot of that denominational infrastructure has um is. I think is struggling because apportionments and giving is is. I think it has been consistently down and ironically, one of the things they tried to do in ten years ago in what they called to Action, was to pare down a lot of the denominational structures and bureaucracies. Um. And we're doing it now. Just you know, in a slower and less intentional way. So I think a lot of that stuff publishing house will still will still be around, but um but probably struggle. Um yeah, I think there's just gonna be less less things to pull from. It'll be interesting to see...

...if the GMC does our own publishing house or if they sort of use c BED that's kind of there. Yeah, I don't know. And the GMC has a couple of seminaries that I would imagine would would kind of migrate that way and sort of be quote unquote GMC seminaries. Not not that they would affiliate so much as GMC friendly seminaries kind of give them a niche in the market. Um. People don't like market language, and I get it, but I mean this is capitalism at work too. I mean, this is this is the free market playing out. I mean, you know, you you you either find a way to continue in the market. You you broaden your customer base, or you find such a good niche that you know that you're not going to have a customer base drying up anytime soon, or you do what the Episcopal Church has done and make their you know, seminaries only able to serve episcopal student and they're clothes there, you know, closing rapidly. A lot of those tech seminaries are dying off fast, you know, even like Duke, for instance, and United. I went to Duke for my m did and United for my demon and both of those places have said, you know, we are already a pan Wesleyan an ecumenical institution. We're going to continue being that we want to, you know, like like Duke has an Anglican House of Studies that has both tech people and acting to people. I think Duke and a lot of other places are gonna still try to serve both GMC and UMC folks. Now there's some seminaries where I don't think GMC folks are gonna go to UM. I don't think that we need thirteen seminaries. I think some of them probably needs to need to say bye bye. In some cases you have a seminary with a very large endowment and very few students. UM they might, they might hang on, but I don't think we need There's no way that we need the same number seminaries that we had forty years ago. UM. But some of that will sort itself out. Yeah, Candler has done. I'm a double Candler degree, and Candler has done the same thing. And there's so much endowment money, and I mean they their dean was quoted recently and saying, of course GMC students are gonna be welcome here. UM. I think Drew touched on it, though, you know, UM will GMC students choose to go to every United Metist seminary. I don't know. There's probably gonna be something that they're gonna migrate toward more than others, just like there's gonna be more UMC post separation. UMC folks are gonna migrate towards some more than others. That's the market work in itself out you know that there, it's on the it's on the seminaries to do a good job of creating abroad UM a broad base. I also I love a good ecumenical seminary. Candler has Anglican studies, Black Church studies. I mean, there's a number of different studies there. UM. But I also don't think a seminary necessarily has to call itself a one stop shop for all. You know, it's okay to specialize UM in certain things. I mean that's where that's where the market will kind of work itself out too, So yeah, I think some of that too will be I mean, in the next few decades, are we going to keep requiring m DIBs? If so, for whom I mean? I I suspect that again, if things continue apace, then we'll see in the UMC and more what we see in the m E and the Zion in Baptist circles, where you have more and more by vocational clergy and and less and less emphasis on a three year professional degree that a lot of folks can't afford at the rate that clergy are paid in most places. I think you'll see more UM things like course of study that are ways of educating clergy outside of that three year master's paradigm, which I love and value. But there's a few and fewer churches that can afford clergy with that kind of education and death and there's interesting hybrids sort of on the horizon to I'm convinced when St. Paul Seminary had to sell its property, they then moved into the property owned by Church of the Resurrection. Mhm. I'm convinced Adam wasn't just doing that to to do do you know, do a solid for a seminary. I think that that, if needed, part of the long range vision of Church of the Resurrection would be some kind of formal theological education and beginning a relationship that could just eventually merge over time into what could be a new way of doing seminary. Oh, I definitely. I they haven't said it publicly, but I definitely think Church of a Resurrection has tossed that idea around um. So it could be some interesting ways that we look at how do we educate pastors moving forward. I mean, there's interesting creative things out there. There's certainly plenty of evangelical, non denomin examples of pastors that started their own quote unquote Bible colleges or seminaries. So say Adam would do it, and I'm sure he would with more integrity.

Is the next Jerry Fallwell, and it's in St. Paul's the next Liberty. But that model exists, it just hasn't been predominant in the main line. Well, having gone to the leadership into two at Church of the Resurrection, I could see that type of happening um, which actually would would be a fee change of seminary kind of. I think when criticism, especially of mainline seminaries, that that sometimes they haven't always served the church well or been connected as well to the church. And here is one that's literally connected to the church and could be something that could be very beneficial, not just for for Methodist, but I think throughout mainline Protestantism. M hm. Well, I think Ben and I had experiences somewhat similar that we both went to seminaries that are still very focused on training local church clergy that they're are a lot of seminaries, especially mainline seminaries that I would say are and it's again for market reasons that you name been they're as much about producing clergy for the local church as they are producing chaplains or nonprofit specialists or you know, community organizers, sort of public activists kind of all the above. Um. So I think that really varies place to play. Has been and I both went in places that are very much trying to produce effective clergy for the local church. Go ahead, some story. I would just say I also went to a seminary, and that was a luther seminary in St. Paul Um that's very much geared towards the local church. Um. It's a seminary nearby another mainline seminary, which would be United is very much, very different. UM. It would be more the activists kind of route for United UM. And that's it's not my cup of tea, but that's kind of where they're they're headed. And that you're talking about United of the Twin Cities, is that? Sorry? Yes, United Cities, which is a which is a United Church of Christ seminary, and as opposed to United in Ohio, which is the United Methodists, very differently. I'm sorry I interrupted you, Ben No. I was just in a similar vein going to say that one of the things I'm most proud of recently out of my alma moderate candler is that UM they have recognized through the success of the Online Doctor Ministry program, which has done gangbusters. I got my dm M through that, but they now offer a fully online MDF program and and part of that is to be able to reach local church pastors to let them stay in the local church to do their ministry while they get their theological education. So we have the benefit of an intern right now at my church because she's in one of their their first cohorts UM for the end of so UM. Yeah, I mean just just trying to have trying to have that heart for the local church. And and Cambler also has gone through seasons that that there were complaints that it was a getting a little too ivory tower. UM. But but I think there's been a pendulum swing back now towards you know, we got to get people out of here and into the local church. So and it was that way when I was there too, it was it was moving in that direction. Well, I want to actually move on to UM in the time that we have left. Something that is of interest to me UM. And it's kind of talking about one of the leaders in the umc UM that's well known and that's well Williaman speaking of the academy. Huh yeah, who was Yes, because he was actually the had a dean chap at the Duke Chapel Chapel Duke Chapel um UM later became the bishop I believe of North North Alabama Conference UM. And so he's had a he's made his mark in the church. UM. I think his niche is very much UM kind of post liberal UM that he very much shares a lot of things that I would say it would be more on the liberal side of the church, but also um, at least from my viewpoint, has a kind of somewhat orthodox understanding of the faith as well. UM. But I wanted to get your opinion about him and how is he with his effect on the church? UM, because of course I'm when I look at William, and I'm looking at him from as an outsider, um, non Methodist. What has his role beIN within the church or do you think his role has been in the church? Um as Methodist pastors do.

Let you feel that first, since you're you're you're a dukie. Yeah, I'm unfortunately that is our nickname. UM, I'm curious. I'm curious to your bin's answer, because you know, it's it's easy for me to think that that will has had a major voice in the church because he's been so connected to Duke and so many of our our clergy in my state, my conference have been either taught by him or uh, you know, disciples by his books and things like that. I mean, you know, will I think, for a long time was on a lot of lists of most effective preachers in America, etcetera, etcetera. Been very influential, particularly the book Resident Aliens. He and Hawer wass wrote together. Um, if I'm not mistaken, he was. He's not formally a scholar, He's certainly has the chops to be a scholar if that was the vocation he'd chosen. Um. He wrote a pretty advanced book on Bart's preaching. It's probably the most scholarly thing he's written. Um. He I don't know. I don't think he passed. Heored that long, but he became dean of the chapel and was dean of the chapel duke for a long time and taught there, wrote a ton of books, and then was later a bishop I think for it was the only a bishop for one term? Or was it too I think was it too okay? Um? And I heard varying reports on how much people enjoyed having having will as a as a bishop. Um. What I think it's been interesting about Williman. And I've seen this with a number of leaders, And I'm trying to say this in a charitable way. You know, Will always presented himself as a bit of a radical and in various ways. Um, you got that sense and resident aliens and other stuff. You know, Will's got that classic like he comes off as this folks he's Southerner, but he has this like a serbic biting with you know that that comes back to to get you if you're not looking for it. Um. And it's brilliant in a lot of ways. Great communicator always, you know, we always presented himself as this radical, especially with that peace and Christian century about the the UMC break up. To me, a lot of folks that I thought were sort of radicals have turned out to be more institutionalist than I would have guessed. Um, and I would put will in in that category. I don't know that I disagree with a whole lot in his piece in particular, I just don't know what his goal was, because if his goal was trying to convince people not to break up, I don't think he was very successful. If his If his goal was to find some you know, win, some way to encourage people not to to lean out rather than to lean in, I don't I don't know what rhetoric classes he's taken. I don't think he was convincing anyone, um to, you know, to to take a second thought before stepping out the door. Um. That's my two cents, you know, Um, he's uh an older bishop you've seen a lot more than I have. So there's probably stuff he knows that I don't. I just don't. I just don't know what he thinks he's serving other than getting applause from the people that are agree with him by a piece like that one in Christian century, Yeah, Um, I was a big Williaman fan at Candler, big Williaman and higherwas fans. So the post liberal thing, I guess made me a little different. Um. You know, you get into your different theological traditions, Um, Candler tends to be a little bit more in the neighbor tradition. You know that this house one pastor and and and lead, but but do so within society and the church. And you know there's there's also within Candler's tradition. Um. Theologically, you know, there's a lot of influence from from from a number of scholars in the very I call them the ist traditions. You know that that have emerged. Um, you know, um womanist, Um, just various different traditions. And part of that is to kind of bring in all these different voices of of corrective um thought, so that the academy is shaped by more than just old white men, which turns out is really a good thing that that we don't have just old white men shaping the academy. Um. So so at Candler, you know, the post liberal thing. You know, it was a little different. And um, of course Hirawason Williman, two white men, uh that there was some suspect with with friends and we had a good time bantering back and forth about it. I think that I loved that, not not so much for Willman and Hiro wasas in retrospect, but how they built upon traditions of people like Dietrich von Hoffer and Carl Bart um. Bart is probably for me the most INFLUENTI with theologian of my academic upbringing. UM.

And I also say that um now, as somebody who's ten months in recovery um uh in alcoholics anonymous and in and in recovery from alcoholism, that the twelve steps themselves, that that has given me a spiritual transformation over the course of this year. You know, comes from the Oxford Club that Bill Wilson got fascinated with. And the Oxford Club, you know, has definite theological ties and sent and and similarities to um the Bardian tradition, you know, the second step to say that that a power greater than ourselves is all that can save us. That's Carl Bart. You know that God is wholly other and comes to us in a salvific way. Right. So that's where my fascination with William and kind of you know, building on that for a contemporary age, you know, sort of came out. I'm kind of Withdrew. Williaman, uh, in many ways is the Flannery O'Connor of the church, you know, to tell such a folksy storytelling way that has this punchline, you know, um, like Flannery O'Connor that someone's gonna get shot or or the grace of God is just gonna shock you to death or you know. That's what Williaman aims for. And and and there is that there is a theological truth to that that God's grace is shocking, that it that it that in order for us to change, we have to be shocked into it a lot of times. And so I've always appreciated Williaman for that. I tend to be a little cynical, I think Williman, I mean, Drew, I I'm probably more cynical than you about the Christian Century article. I loved everything Williman had to say. The whole article is wonderful. What do I think the ultimate goal was? Will Williman has had a standing invitation that pretty much anything he ever wants to put in Christian Century has gone in Christian century. And it's not accidental that that article is a synopsis of a new book that launched some forty five days later. Williaman gave you a primer to his new book he's selling on the Split Period. Like I think, I think it was a great It was a wonderful article. I loved it. I disagreed with parts of it. Just like Willioman is the scholar, just like Williman is the bishop that I've heard. You love him one minute, you hate him the next, but you appreciate him for how smart he is. I think the article was just a great celebration of who he is and and and then at the very end, now go buy my book that's coming out if you want to read more. Like I think it's a great sales Yeah it was. It was a trailer for his upcoming absolutely was. Yeah, he's so more methodist pastor could ever hope to sell. So he's no dummy. He knows what he's doing. Yeah, Well, it's funny because I think um in setting this up we I talked told you I listened to um three podcasts EPI so of the Crackers and Grape Juice podcasts with him, and it pretty much was just exactly what you just said. It was kind of a preview of his book m hm. And so it's kind of the same thing. He's a master familory teller too, master storyteller. Will Williman is for the world what I think the he embodies what the South is for the world, which is this complicated, quirky, brilliant people formed by fire and story, and he conveys it to the world. And I love it how he he comes in with these and you think that accent and that old man, little gristled voice, and then the punch line is so good, and it's like, yep, that's what that's what the South can give the world, right there is will will What you know, what what you said about the that what you loved about Williman and Hower wass A lot of that was was their connection to someone like bart resonates a lot with me too, and it's it's an important name that when we're talking about post liberalism as a theological movement. The liberalism there is not so much what we think of as political liberal political ideology, but more it means something more like modernity or enlightenment. Um. It's very much connected to Bart's associated with the Yale School, people like Hans Fried, George lindbeck Um, Lindbex. The Nature of Doctrine is sort of the main kind of book that leads that movement. People like Williman howerd wasas others. A lot of folks ended up at Duke studied at Yale with those folks, and it's a very significant I think theological movement will be interesting to see if it lasts another generation. But at its best. What I liked about it, and this is very true for Bart is you know Bart Bart took a baseball bat both two sort of you know, liberal real...

...small l liberal German theology, modern theology. And he also was very much not in the fundamentalist camp. Right. So I've always thought of myself as a Bardian in the sense of not being either fully comfortable with the sort of modern liberals, not comfortable with fundamentalists. And so I like will and how are either they're at their best when they're refusing these categories and complicating them for us. Where will has disappointed me and I think recent years is again to me, he just sounds like we're in this polarized church and this person who theologically has been so good at resisting categories and complicating things, when it comes to his actual leadership role in the church, he sounds like one more bureaucratic functionary defending the system. And I just really thought he was a more interesting person than that. Yeah, and they're they're postliberal sort of twist was born in the late nineteen eighties, and a lot out of it was in response to the neo Christian coalition type movement where conservatives pushed the government, and as Williman has said numerous times, I love the phrase that that you know they embodied, you know that every time the church gets in bed with the government, we always hate ourselves the next morning. And so that that neoliberal expression is really born out of a how can the church function as this city on a hill inside of a broken nation? Not how the nation is the city on the hill, but how the church is the city on the hill um that shines with light and and and and carries the flavor of salt Um. That was what what I fell in love with Williaman and Hierowa's for it is fascinating because in a in a going back to the Academy, you know, in many ways Hiawas became very much the institutionalist and how he shaped Duke Divinity School, which since he's retired, Duke's had some upheaval of culture and things, and a lot of is coming out of how Hieras was so influential with how the Academy was shaped while he was there, and Williaman in a similar way to how the church um was shaped and informed and and and it's almost like they carried this dirty little secret that they wanted all of us to be a bunch of radicals and resident aliens. But they were really in on the the institutions themselves. The RNY there is that you know, how As ended up an episcopalian right and for all of his stuff about you know, the poor and power. I mean, how can how could you imagine a church more aligned with American power? Yeah? Uh? Now, all that said, like a lot of my teachers, even undergrad were students of Hower Wass and I'm I mean a lot of a lot of debt to that whole line of thinking. But I do think again, like the same thing for how was the challenges where the rubber beats the road. It's been true for Williman, and I just I think as a bishop, I don't know that he's been able to be the the outspoken outsider in the way that he thinks he has been historically. Mm hmm. When I kind of just to wrap things up, here is one final question, because you talked about him being an institutionalist. Um, isn't it's really a bad thing to be an institutionalist. I say, no, Drew might disagree. Um, yeah, I think there's some there's some nuance to be had there. So in the same way that the Yale historian of Christian Thought Euroslav Pelicans said, Um, tradition is living faith of the dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Which I love that turn of phrase because I love tradition. I don't think I'm a traditionalist. I think we need institutions, and institutions have value. I think I heard um who is the first things guy? Um? No, before him, the name is escaping me. The Catholic that used to be Lutheran. Oh, man, Yeah, I'm talking about new house than you. Yes, yeah, I think it was a new house that said. Um, you know, institution is just a term for something that has social endurance, right, something that lasts longer than a generation is an institution. We need institutions. Institutions are valuable. I don't like how reflectively and unthinkingly anti institution anti institutional our culture is now all that I believe in institutions, but they're in the same way that I love and value tradition. I'm not an institutional list in that UM what I see as an uncritical alignment of...

...my beliefs with whatever best serves the institution, and what I see in a lot of my my colleagues, especially again in the sort of hashtag b U m C, like like, the existence of the GMC doesn't mean that everything in the UMC is awesome? Does that make sense? Like, just because there's this thing over here that I disagree with doesn't mean everything in my in my in my camp is great. And so that's what I mean by institutionalists just sort of reflexively defending the institution that you're a part of UM in a sort of ad nauseum way. M hmm, yeah, I was just quickly to pay you back. I'm kind of Withdrew. I always think about Naudiabolts whatever said, you know, you can't innovate a tradition and until until you're deeply immersed in it. And so insofar as the tradition shapes and forms us, I appreciate the institution. Now, how that plays out in everyday matters can be frustrating, um but that endurance piece is huge, and to be a part of an institution that can endure is not nothing. UM do. I always love it. No. In fact that I'm gonna pull this one from one of my favorite uh of nfl UH pundits is Mike Florio Pro Football Talk, and Florio just went on a rant one day about how the league office got some scandal wrong and they're basically covering up to protect and all this, and Florio said, you know, the reason he's an ex lawyer, and he's like, the reason I am so hard on the league office is because I love this game so much and I want to see this sport be the very best version of it. Absolutely possible that the sport changed his life and he wants to only see it move forward. And every time that they cover up scandals and stuff, it's holding it's holding the sport back from being what it could be. And so my only frustration and institutionalism is if we can't get out of our own way to be the very best denomination in tradition possible. Because I'm so grateful for for what it has been, for what it is, and and hopefully for what I can help it be. UM. So if I'm critical, it's because I love it UM and I know and I know Drew's the same way because we we we trade barbs and have a good time on Twitter, and and but I know, deep down, you know it's a church. We love UM and so you know, we can blow off steam and be critical, but but at the end of the day, hopefully it comes out of a deep love. Yeah. That's that's where we'll put down the the The fire needs a fireplace, but it has to stay about the fire and not the fireplace. And that's the sort of tension I think we're naming. When you need to attend the fire, you have to have a fireplace to do that, but the point is not the fireplace. To point is the fire. Yeah, all right, well, I think that that is a great place to end this conversation. Ben, Drew, thank you so much. This was, even with all of the glitches, a very enlightening conversation and I'm glad was able to have this time to chat with you all. Good to baby Dennis too, Drew. Thanks Dennis, you had nice to get the chat done from Well, that is it for this part of the episode on the and I am Methodist Church UH. Stay tuned for a small part bonus episode where Ben Andrew will talk about will Williman and institutionalism. And also before I let you go, just a reminder that it does take a lot to make great content like this available to you, So I hope that you will consider making a one time or regular donation to Church and Maine and you can do that by going to UH the website at Church and Maine dot org. That is it for this episode of Church and Maine. I'm Dennis Sanders, your host. Thank you so much for listening, Take care, god speed, and we'll see you see ye.

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