Good News, an evangelical caucus in the United Methodist Church, reports that some pastors whose churches redirected apportionment funds as a protest of their bishops' support of homosexuality are allegedly being harassed by district superintendents.
Some church leaders are protesting a "Statement of Conscience" signed by 15 liberal bishops at last year's quadrennial general conference, grieving over the denomination's vote to reaffirm traditional teachings on homosexuality (CT, June 17, 1996, p. 58).
Some district superintendents are "pistol-whipping" pastors of the churches and accusing them of disloyalty, says James Heidinger, president of Good News. The group did not release the names of the pastors, churches, or district superintendents.
"Right now we are not taking any action other than making people aware that this is going on and expressing our concern," he says.
Other evangelical United Methodist laypeople and clergy are opposing pressure to become more tolerant of homosexuality by releasing a statement, "The More Excellent Way." The document urges Methodists supporting homosexual practice and marriage to find avenues other than "United Methodist pulpits, boards, agencies, educational institutions, and other affiliated entities to express their views."
A. F. Mutti, a United Methodist bishop from Topeka, Kansas, who fronted the "Statement of Conscience," expressed surprise at the allegations.
"This is the first I've heard of it," he told CT.1