What’s It Going to Take to Fix and Free the UMC?

Warning: United Methodist inside baseball ahead. One of the strongest selling points for the One Church Plan, (and one that I’ve made), is that it takes off the table the contentious, divisive debate over LGBTQ inclusion and allows us to focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world—the stated mission […]

Georgia on his Mind: George Whitefield and the Margins of Empire [from Englewood Review]

This review originally appeared on the Englewood Review of Books. Experiments flourish on the margins. It’s why visionaries and mavericks gather in places far from the watchful eye of social convention and official control. Think Donald Judd making his art and his mark in Marfa in ultra-West Texas. Think Brigham Young and the Mormons building […]

Jeff Sessions and the Things Church Trials Can’t Do

Church trials don’t create community; they create tribes.  And that’s got me concerned for The United Methodist Church. Some 640 United Methodists recently lodged a formal complaint against the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions, who is a United Methodist with membership in a Mobile, Alabama church.  Though it is almost so rare […]

Jarena Lee and the Day the Preacher Stumbled: Exhortation and the Methodist Future

The preacher was in trouble.  It’s hard to take the life out of the story of Jonah, but somehow he had. Struggling preachers are not unusual.  We’ve all had a Sunday.  Or several.  But in early 19th-century Methodism, including the AME branch of Methodism, (of which this preacher was a part), the official preachers had […]

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learned to Love the Reformation(s)

For many years, I taught Reformation history as part of the Course of Study School at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas.  I didn’t want the course.  My interests were medieval and contemporary, not the stodgy theological arguments of Luther and Calvin.  But there was a year when the regular faculty member couldn’t teach it.  […]

The Last Thing I Want to Talk About – Bishop Oliveto and the UMC

The last thing I want to talk about is the United Methodist Church’s legal wrangling around the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, who came to her office last year as a lesbian pastor in a same-sex marriage. Last week the Judicial Council of the denomination ruled that her consecration as bishop was carried out in […]