The Damnation of Theron Ware, by Harold Frederic (1896), is the fictional tale of a sheltered Methodist minister who is suddenly bombarded with new theories of biblical criticism, exposure to Irish Catholic practices, and the allure of emerging ideals of the “modern woman”—all of which shake his religious foundation.
The General Conference of the United Methodist Church convened in Tampa last week. I’m not one of the 988 delegates who have descended on Florida to do the work of our church, nor of the 4,000 hosts, bishops, pages, translators and myriad lobbyists there to help. My participation is limited to following the proceedings from 1,000 miles away.
Still, my emotions have been all over the place. And judging from Twitter and Facebook, this roller coaster of highs and lows is almost universal among those who are there. The stakes feel high this year, higher than usual.
their careers or standing in the United Methodist Church, at least 164 clergy and six
congregations from Long Island to the Catskill Mountains and southern
Connecticut are vowing to marry same-sex couples.
As the sour economy and aging buildings wreak havoc on church budgets, United Methodists are trying to get ahead of the problem and assess the health of their congregations in a bid to reverse declining fortunes.