Andy Miller III
Cover Image for Disaffiliation Isn’t Over with Tom Lambrecht

Disaffiliation Isn’t Over with Tom Lambrecht

April 25, 2024

Because 25% of United Methodist Churches have disaffiliated it could be tempting to think that that process is over. On today’s podcast I talk with Tom Lambrecht, VP of Good News, about the General Conference that is happening in Charlotte right now. We talk about the legislative proposals on the table that will enable churches to be faithful to their biblical convictions.

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Welcome to the more to the story. Podcast, I'm so glad that you have come along and many people have been wondering now that we are in this phase where there's a breaking within the United Methodist Church to the global Methodist Church and the dozens of other denominations and independent functions that churches have had. We've wondered like, Okay, well, what's going on now in United Methodist Church. And it's there's some

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Andy Miller III: very important things that we need to bring up, that we hope will be of not just concern, but of interest to people. For them to pray for this general conference as it's happening. So we're gonna cover that on today's episode. But first, this podcast is brought to you by Wesley Biblical Seminary, where I serve as academic Dean, and we are developing trusted leaders for faithful churches, and we have people across a host of

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Andy Miller III: Wesleyan denominations at Gold Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church and all sorts of others as well, and we would love for you to think about coming to our seminary. We have bachelor's master's doctoral programs, a course of study program for the global Methodist church

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Andy Miller III: and a host of Elay initiatives as well. So you can find out more about that at Wesley Biblical Seminary, I should say Also, I'm thankful to my friends at Wpo. Development, who helped make this Podcast happen. They come alongside churches, schools, nonprofit organizations and help them with capital campaigns, feasibility studies, mission planning studies.

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Andy Miller III: And they've done that successfully for more than 250 organizations, and I've used them on a number of occasions, and I highly recommend them to use. So you can find out more information about them

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Andy Miller III: in my show

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Andy Miller III: Finally, I'd love for people sign up for my email list. I send regular content out to people. It gets you aware of some of the things that are happening kind of in the Pan Wesley and world at the same time? If you sign up for that email list. I'll send you a free tool called 5 steps to deeper teaching and preaching. It's a 45 min teaching and kind of like a guide. A 8 page Pdf. Document that you can use to craft your own messages or Bible studies

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Andy Miller III: that go deeper into God's Word with the aim of coming up with a creative way to present that to people God's called you to serve

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Andy Miller III: all right. I am so glad to welcome into the podcast somebody. I've never had on before. I I can't believe I never have. We've never met in person, but this is Reverend Tom Landrick, who serves as the Vice President for Good news for United Methodist, and he's an elder in the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church, Tom Welcome to Podcast.

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Thomas Lambrecht: It's great to be with you, Andy. Thanks for the invitation.

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Andy Miller III: You're welcome. Well, you're coming to us. Live from Charlotte. Right? I believe you're there physically right.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Yes, it's a beautiful city. We're enjoying being here.

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Andy Miller III: Well, Tom, I those of you, those people with my audience who are familiar with what's been happening in I Methodist church, and we've covered that on the more of this story podcast for the last several years we've talked to Robert Fro, who serves with you at good news. We've talked to various bishops in the Gmc. People who've worked through challenges in the Umc. Some people who have stayed in. We've covered some of those stories as well, but many people, and I would say, mostly people. My audience

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Andy Miller III: probably are connected to churches that have disaffiliated one of those 7,500 churches that have disaffiliated, or other denominations that are more evangelical. Some might call more conservative.

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Andy Miller III: and in light of that, people might think, well, what do we need to think about the United Methodist Church. Now we we've left. There's not, you know. It's it's kind of in the past. Let's focus on the future. But I I think there's some really key things happening, and I'd love for you to help us know why you and good news are present

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Andy Miller III: at the General Conference at this point.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, the reason we're here. Andy is because of the African, particularly delegates and the the African part of the United Methodist Church.

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Thomas Lambrecht: You may know that Africa makes up actually what now more than half of the membership of the United Methodist denomination.

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Thomas Lambrecht: They are underrepresented at General Conference. They only have about a third of the delegates here. But, they are a very important and integral part of the United Methodist Church.

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Thomas Lambrecht: and you know you have covered the fact that that in the Us. Many churches have had the opportunity to discern their future, to determine whether the United Methodist Church is the the appropriate denominational connection for them, especially in light of the changes that are going to be happening here at this general conference and that same opportunity to discern their future has not been granted to churches outside the United States that are part of the United Methodist Church.

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Thomas Lambrecht: and especially in Africa, where? In many cases the bishops have kept their churches in the dark, not shared information. Have forbidden pastors from even talking about what's going on, and

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Thomas Lambrecht: prevented people from understanding the issues. And so we're here at General Conference to promote the idea that

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Thomas Lambrecht: General Conference ought to give churches outside the us the same opportunity, the same right to discern their future and disaffiliate if they choose. That was given to United Methodists in the Us.

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Thomas Lambrecht: we see it as a matter of simple fairness and justice, and that what what we've been able to take advantage of ought to be made available to Africans as well.

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Andy Miller III: So why is it legislatively that they were not able to get out? Is it just social in the sense that bishops are keeping information as you indicated? Or is there actually like a mechanism within the book of discipline that's keeping them from having that opportunity to disaffiliate.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, you may be aware that the the process for disaffiliation in the Us. Was based on a particular paragraph in the discipline called paragraph 2553, that allowed local churches to vote by a 2 thirds vote to disaffiliate if they chose to do that. And that paragraph was passed at the 2019 General Conference.

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Thomas Lambrecht: At the same time another provision that was passed at that conference said that that legislation that was passed there would not take effect in the areas outside the Us. Until one year after the next General Conference, which was scheduled to be in 2020, a little over a year after St. Louis.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, of course, you know that the Pan pandemic disrupted that. And so the General Conference has not met until now.

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Thomas Lambrecht: and so the provision for 2553 never took effect because it expired at the end of 2023, and General Conference hadn't met, and therefore, it never went into effect.

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Thomas Lambrecht: We think that the Council of Bishops could have asked the Judicial Council to allow for an exception to that policy. Because of the extraordinary circumstances of the the pandemic and the postponements.

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Thomas Lambrecht: But they chose not to do that. And so that's why it never went into effect.

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Andy Miller III: Gotcha. So now they're in the now they're in place. So the actual legislation would just give that that opportunity to any for any Church to disaffiliate with two-thirds vote.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, there's actually 2 proposals that we're promoting here. That we're both submitted by African delegates. One is to allow an annual conference to disaffiliate an annual conference outside the United States. And this is because, especially in Africa, they tend to operate in unison on these kinds of issues make decisions by consensus. And so it is far more likely that a whole annual conference would decide to disaffiliate

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Thomas Lambrecht: than individual churches, and and it would keep them together and and help them to be a strong church moving forward, so that that is one proposal and it would give that opportunity to an annual conference. The other proposal is to extend the provisions of 2553 for another several years, and make sure that it applies outside the United States as well as inside. And that way

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Thomas Lambrecht: churches individual churches who are in an annual conference that decides not to disaffiliate

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Thomas Lambrecht: those individual churches, could then disaffiliate if they wanted to.

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Andy Miller III: So of those 2 options. Are they both possible, or do you prefer one or the other.

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Thomas Lambrecht: They're both possible. We're promoting both of them, and we would like to see both of them pass.

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Andy Miller III: Gotcha. Wow! That is, be it'd be so interesting if that happened particularly like on the the first one that you mentioned at the annual conferences, leaving, it seems, like those who want to promote a progressive agenda, would be glad

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Andy Miller III: for the African churches to leave which would then increase their opportunities to then be able to forgive me for just as the easy word to say it liberalize the book of discipline, I mean, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it be to their advantage for other churches, for for conservative churches to leave.

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Thomas Lambrecht: You would think so, Andy. Unfortunately, they, they don't quite see it that way. I think that they they think that

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Thomas Lambrecht: that the African churches are being misused by conservatives in the US. To promote a US. Problem.

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Thomas Lambrecht: which is, you know, basically disagreement over the issues of homosexuality and and sexual morality

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Thomas Lambrecht: and and that they're being manipulated. And therefore, if they had their own ability to choose, they'd continue to choose wrongly because of the manipulation manipulation.

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Thomas Lambrecht: So they they believe that that it's not good for the churches in Africa to lead the United Methodist Church, and that therefore they they don't want to promote that opportunity.

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Thomas Lambrecht: What they're doing, what they're doing instead is promote promoting this idea called regionalization, that would allow each part of the Church to create its own reality. So you could have different standards for ministry. Say, in the Us. Versus Africa, you could have different standards for teachings on marriage, a different definition of marriage itself.

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Thomas Lambrecht: differences on all these things could be

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Thomas Lambrecht: so that the Us. Can like run the church the way it wants to in the Us.

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Andy Miller III: Aye.

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Thomas Lambrecht: African run the church the way they want to in the Africa, and therefore they think that allows everybody to live together and not have to go through the disaffiliation.

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Andy Miller III: It's been interesting to note that other denominations have tried to follow that SIM same line my former denomination, the Salvation Army. That's certainly one of the moves that's being made by those who want to see the Salvation Army adopt. A liberalized sexual ethic would be the same sort of thing. Well, let us just do this here. If it's fine for you to keep your truth over here, we'll have our truth on this side. It. I I'm curious that as that's ha happening like what?

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Andy Miller III: What is the best case scenario? What's the best way they can position it like. So they're talking about region. Why would regionalization be good

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Andy Miller III: for those in in the central conference?

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Andy Miller III: And from their perspective, like play devil's advocate here like, let's let's make give the best case scenario of what they're thinking.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, it would allow the each, each region of the church to

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Thomas Lambrecht: create church that is more compatible with their own culture and traditions and customs and things like that.

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Thomas Lambrecht: As in in agreement with its countries, laws and individualized.

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Thomas Lambrecht: so that it's not a one. Size fits all denomination.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And I also think that they're concerned about the issue of colonialism, and how in the past, you know, the U. The United Methodist Church has been mainly a Us. Center denomination with missionary outposts.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And now that you know Africa has more members than the Us. Does, you know.

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Thomas Lambrecht: the the Us. Shouldn't be telling Africa how to run the church.

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Thomas Lambrecht: So that's that's another strong argument that they make.

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Andy Miller III: Well, it it seems like then, if they would, if that was really the case, they would listen to the th those in the other side. So what's a problem with that? Then what's the problem with that line of argument.

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Thomas Lambrecht: So the problem with that line of argument is that it. It sets up the church to disintegrate. Basically. What's unique about Methodism is our connectional nature, that we operate through connection with one another, and that that that connection reinforces each other and allows ministry to be multiplied.

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Thomas Lambrecht: If everybody has their own book of discipline, their own standards that are different from each other, it will create, we believe, a process of evolution where the Church will evolve into these regional entities that are not as connected to each other as they are now.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And so it's important to to maintain some things that are in common amongst all the parts of the church.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Then, you know, we

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Thomas Lambrecht: we don't think that it's wrong for there to be different kinds of structures or different methods of worship or things like that in different countries. And obviously one needs to be cognizant of a country's laws regarding how property is handled and things like that. There's no objection to that. But the kinds of things that they're wanting to make regional in nature

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Thomas Lambrecht: are, are the foundational things like, what is the Church's teaching on things like marriage and sexuality? And what what are the standards for ministry? And and what what does that create? And so by by making those regional, it really creates? The kind of differences that lead to. I think a disintegration of our connection.

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Andy Miller III: I thought it was interesting a few minutes ago you said that they could define their own reality, and that's like a real philosophical statement. And I think that's true. What's happened? What happens in

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Andy Miller III: liberal theology in general, it happens in in churches that affirm like that we can create our own truths, and we can regionalize or localize whatever it is. We then, are altering truth like we think we think we're altering truth, and that that's really problematic for us, like, how can there be any foundation if everything is localized to the individual's subjective opinions?

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, you know, it's interesting. The church is always a little slow.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And the the whole push philosophically has been in the past toward post modernism, which is, everybody, has their own truth, and that's beginning to fade now. And and and philosophy is realizing all that you can't have, that. It's every there is a common truth that people can point to. But now, just at that moment, that's when the church is starting to get on the post

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Thomas Lambrecht: modern bandwagon and and adopt this idea of everyone having their own truth. So we're a little behind the times.

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Andy Miller III: Right now now, is there something else to connected to, even some of the regions that have had like? So I'm in Mississippi. And the church that I attend disaffiliated and 90% joined. The global Methodist church is fairly seamless. And the Bishop was I wasn't a part of the conversations, but it was seemingly

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Andy Miller III: pretty an easy process for them to follow through on. They had to be careful with what they're doing. Make sure to do everything right. But there's other conferences where has not been as easy, and there's been more punitive measures put in place. Is that something that's being worked on as well. At the at this general Conference.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Absolutely. So the the local church disaffiliation proposal is aimed at. S. Solving that problem. Of the 54 original annual conferences in the Us.

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Thomas Lambrecht: The vast majority say 80% of them handled the process in a straightforward way. It wasn't necessarily easy, but it was fair and churches that needed and wanted to to disaffiliate were able to do so. But there are about a dozen annual conferences that that made it very difficult for churches to disaffiliate. They instituted a complicated processes that hindered the process.

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Thomas Lambrecht: They added costs and fees to the process that price essentially price churches out of the ability to disaffiliate especially on the coasts, I mean the East Coast and West Coast Conferences.

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Thomas Lambrecht: A number of them added the the requirement that the church pay 50% of its property value.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And you know, property values in California and and New York and New Jersey are sky high, and of course

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Thomas Lambrecht: small churches in particular.

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Thomas Lambrecht: could not afford to pay millions of dollars

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Thomas Lambrecht: in order to disaffiliate, and so they were practically priced out of the market.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And so we think that's unfair. It was a misuse of the process

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Thomas Lambrecht: to prevent churches from disaffiliating rather than abiding by the intent of the process, was to give churches a fair opportunity to disaffiliate.

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Thomas Lambrecht: and there, in addition, there were some annual conferences where bishops and district superintendents and other leaders would say to the church. You know General Conference hasn't met yet. We don't know what they're gonna do. It's too early to disaffiliate. You can wait until after general conference, and then you can disaffiliate.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And so we feel like there needs to be an opportunity for those conferences that were promised, that

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Thomas Lambrecht: the ability to disaffiliate. And right now that's not in the book of discipline. And so we want to make sure that it is.

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Andy Miller III: So churches that didn't get out before last December. At this point even the United States can't get out.

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Thomas Lambrecht: That's correct. I mean, there are a few annual conferences that are allowing churches to kind of negotiate a way out. But but the the vast majority are being discouraged by their bishops and leaders from any kind of disaffiliation at all.

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Andy Miller III: There are several churches that are waiting

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Andy Miller III: to see, like I've I've been to some of these churches. I've talked to them where they'll some of the leaders have said to me, Well, if they ever actually change the discipline.

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Andy Miller III: then we'll leave, or if they they say, Well, we'll just wait to see when these type of things happen in our area. How do you respond to that? Like? What are the what are some of the challenges in that situation, and then I'm sorry second part of this question would be on the other side. Will will those type of churches that are waiting?

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Andy Miller III: Maybe in 10, maybe in 5 to 10 years. Could there be still an an avenue for them to leave? Is that what you're working on? Sorry I asked too many questions there. So okay, let's let's just respond to the first one first, like, what do you say to those folks who are are saying, well, I'll just wait for it to be explicit.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, it's gonna be difficult for them. For example, the Mississippi Conference. Put in this this idea that you don't have to get out. Now you can wait till after general conference, and there were, I think, about a hundred churches that have have waited

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Thomas Lambrecht: on their process, and then?

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Thomas Lambrecht: In January, they decided, oh, no! If you want to disaffiliate, you have to be been in the process by the end of March.

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Thomas Lambrecht: otherwise in

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Thomas Lambrecht: the point of waiting was to wait till after general conference, but now they're insisting that they go before general Conference, so they still don't know, and they the point of waiting was totally missed.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And I I think that's that's probably the case in other places as well that, you know.

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Thomas Lambrecht: We can see the handwriting on the wall. We know what's going to happen. We know that the church is gonna change its standards about sexual morality and its definition of marriage. That that group within the General Conference has a majority of the votes.

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Thomas Lambrecht: especially in the wake of the fact that that many delegates who were traditionalists have disaffiliated. So there are far fewer traditional delegates at the General Conference than there were previous years.

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Thomas Lambrecht: So it's pretty certain that that

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Thomas Lambrecht: those changes are going to happen.

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Thomas Lambrecht: And so churches that have waited.

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Thomas Lambrecht: they may find themselves in a very difficult position.

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Andy Miller III: So hopefully. This General Conference will come up with a mechanism for those churches once they realize this to still leave. So there, there's legislation that's proposed on that on that side.

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Thomas Lambrecht: There is, of course, of course, the centrists and progressives in the church are very opposed to that idea. They wanna turn the page.

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Thomas Lambrecht: They're done with disaffiliation. They're very frustrated and angry about the number of churches that disaffiliated. They never thought that as many.

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Andy Miller III: Oh, really.

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Thomas Lambrecht: 5% of our churches would disaffiliate. They thought, maybe 5%

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Thomas Lambrecht: and so you know the fact that 25% have gone, they've they view that as a tragedy, and they view it as the result of misinformation, that that good news and others are spreading, which is, of course, ridiculous, but they believe churches have been deceived, and they believe churches can't make a a good decision.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Or have made poor decisions to disaffiliate. They think some churches are more Baptist than Methodist, and they just want to be independent. There are all kinds of excuses that they give, for why churches have disaffiliated rather than looking at the reasons why churches do that.

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Thomas Lambrecht: But there! So the the bottom line is, they're very upset, and they're they're not willing to continue opening that door for continued disaffiliation. And so they're very opposed to the proposals that we put forward.

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Andy Miller III: Is a sense that it is maybe one of their arguments that it was the United Methodist Church that brought this here kind of like the old idea like you didn't build this road. You know, this was built by somebody else. You didn't build this church. It was the United Methodist church that did this all together. And so these are our assets. It's it seems like that might be the the point of power that's being leveraged. It just seems practical to me

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Andy Miller III: to let people leave if they realize that they no longer align with the denomination.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Well, you're right. It is about money and about, you know, having the perception of how many churches we have and that kind of thing. You know it's it's totally ridiculous to say. Well, this was built by the United Methodist Church. Well, the United Methodist Church has only been around since 1969.

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Thomas Lambrecht: Hey?

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Thomas Lambrecht: So so! And in most cases the congregation itself has built that con that church and that has built and provided for it and maintained it over the years. The conference in most cases has not put a penny into that local church property, and yet they're claiming that it belongs to them. Well, it they're saying

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Thomas Lambrecht: the money that was given to support that church was given by faithfully united Methodists of the past, and they wouldn't want it going to a different denomination.

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Thomas Lambrecht: except they don't realize that the people who gave that money 2030, 50, 75 years ago would never have encountered or or approved of the changes that they're making to the Book of Discipline and the changing in churches teachings.

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Thomas Lambrecht: So they they would have been right at the front row of those wanting to disaffiliate.

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Thomas Lambrecht: So it's a lot of disingenuous arguments.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah, for sure.

00:27:35.840 --> 00:27:50.540
Andy Miller III: Tom White, which some of the things are happening here. You're at the conference now it's going on. There's been some questions about what's happening with African delegates and the way that they've been provided for along the way those who haven't mail come give us an update. There.

00:27:51.140 --> 00:28:00.880
Thomas Lambrecht: So any in any normal year probably 30 to 40 delegates are unable to attend, because they're unable to get their visa to come to the Us.

00:28:01.517 --> 00:28:05.770
Thomas Lambrecht: And this is a real problem that's been in existence for quite some time.

00:28:05.860 --> 00:28:06.540
Thomas Lambrecht: But,

00:28:07.500 --> 00:28:13.249
Thomas Lambrecht: The problem was made much worse this time around by the fact that the staff of the General Church

00:28:13.270 --> 00:28:37.719
Thomas Lambrecht: has failed to send out the appropriate paperwork to delegates far enough in advance for them to be able to go through the process of getting their visas. In some of the countries in Africa. The wait time for an appointment to to get a visa is 4 to 6 months. Well, the delegates did not get their letters of invitation until about 2 to 3 months ago.

00:28:37.720 --> 00:28:55.730
Thomas Lambrecht: and so they were like past the window of being able to make an appointment. Some of them had to travel to other countries in order to get a visa appointment. Some were turned down. For that very reason number of Nigerians had to go to Liberia to get their visa appointment and

00:28:56.103 --> 00:29:17.640
Thomas Lambrecht: the consular office at the Embassy, said, Well, why are you here? Why didn't you get your visa in Nigeria and refuse to give them the the visa? So we anticipate that out of the 270 or so African delegates we're only gonna have about 200 of them present, and maybe even less than that

00:29:18.104 --> 00:29:23.790
Thomas Lambrecht: which is like double to triple the number of of people that normally are without a visa.

00:29:23.880 --> 00:29:27.999
Thomas Lambrecht: and we think that that was partly orchestrated

00:29:28.060 --> 00:29:29.120
Thomas Lambrecht: by

00:29:29.200 --> 00:29:34.760
Thomas Lambrecht: the powers that be, in order to keep down the number of African voters

00:29:34.820 --> 00:29:35.860
Thomas Lambrecht: so that

00:29:36.330 --> 00:29:39.470
Thomas Lambrecht: they can pass the legislation that they want to pass.

00:29:39.931 --> 00:29:48.580
Thomas Lambrecht: This idea of regionalization. Takes a 2 thirds vote of the conference to pass it because it modifies the Constitution.

00:29:48.840 --> 00:29:58.629
Thomas Lambrecht: and so they. We believe that they would like to see that number as low as possible on the African side, because they might vote against it, and

00:29:58.750 --> 00:30:02.819
Thomas Lambrecht: therefore scuttle the whole plan for regionalization.

00:30:03.250 --> 00:30:03.800
Andy Miller III: Hmm!

00:30:04.210 --> 00:30:05.299
Andy Miller III: Is there a.

00:30:05.640 --> 00:30:17.259
Andy Miller III: So with these people who have come and haven't been able participate, there's no way for them to participate, just as you and I are communicating over Zoom, or anything like that, they can't participate unless they're physically in the room.

00:30:17.680 --> 00:30:27.610
Thomas Lambrecht: That's correct and part of that is because of the the fact that there's committee meetings and things like that that take place, that people interact that way, and the the

00:30:27.860 --> 00:30:36.639
Thomas Lambrecht: the logistics of setting up the denominational meeting for the remote participation would be very difficult.

00:30:36.700 --> 00:30:39.759
Thomas Lambrecht: And it's also true that in Africa the

00:30:39.810 --> 00:30:52.364
Thomas Lambrecht: Internet reliability is questionable. Sometimes we have trouble, you know, meeting with people that we are serving together with in various boards and committees that we work on

00:30:53.235 --> 00:31:05.669
Thomas Lambrecht: on a particular day. Oh, the Internet's bad today, I'm not be able to participate that kind of thing. So it's really difficult to do virtual as well. But we believe that if if

00:31:05.960 --> 00:31:06.980
Thomas Lambrecht: the

00:31:06.990 --> 00:31:13.899
Thomas Lambrecht: leaders had listened to the Africans who were asking for these this information way last fall.

00:31:14.040 --> 00:31:17.470
Thomas Lambrecht: and if they had responded appropriately, then

00:31:17.540 --> 00:31:20.620
Thomas Lambrecht: the visa situation would be a lot better today.

00:31:20.870 --> 00:31:21.750
Thomas Lambrecht: Yes.

00:31:22.590 --> 00:31:35.200
Andy Miller III: I participated in a a couple of Gmc. Convening conferences West, a Biblical seminary. We've been at as many of them as possible, and as somebody who's new to the Gmc.

00:31:35.200 --> 00:32:01.479
Andy Miller III: This just seems like a spirit filled environment. And there's occasionally, like a couple of legislative pieces that need to happen. And it's been fairly smooth as we've observed them. But it's this is a a true kind of like, doesn't as somebody who's new, just seems like a a really strong Christian conference of brothers and sisters in Christ coming together and then making a couple of decisions. So I don't have the context for what annual conferences or general conference has been like.

00:32:01.480 --> 00:32:27.199
Andy Miller III: So I'm curious what the A. A. We just in some of my audience won't be familiar with even the term conference, they would think, Oh, okay, I go to the Catalyst Conference, or I go to a Youth Ministry Conference. But this is a legislative body, a general conference that goes to make decisions. But there is a a a side to this that is like a conference. Where there is worse there are worship services. There's engagement with speakers. There's motivational type of

00:32:27.290 --> 00:32:48.699
Andy Miller III: aspects of what it means to be a part of the denomination. And then there are, of course, more probably the function is a legislative funk function. So you've been to many of these, Tom, how do you describe what's going on in that room? Even spiritually from this sense of like coming together, if with a unified function like what's what's it like? And how's it different from other general conferences?

00:32:49.810 --> 00:33:05.460
Thomas Lambrecht: So you're right. It is a combination of worship, event and legislative gathering it. The whole idea of conferencing is based on Wesley's idea that that as that, one of the means of grace is what he called Christian conferencing.

00:33:05.530 --> 00:33:06.760
Thomas Lambrecht: and that is,

00:33:07.280 --> 00:33:08.889
Thomas Lambrecht: in his usage.

00:33:09.420 --> 00:33:25.999
Thomas Lambrecht: People meeting together in groups to talk about their faith and understanding it in a community rather than as an individual, and that we can learn from one another and that kind of thing. But it's kind of morphed over in in the denomination to Christian conferencing is how we

00:33:26.120 --> 00:33:44.890
Thomas Lambrecht: solve problems. It's how we make decisions. It's a. It's a legislative process that is very much like. How Congress operates at times. And some of the same political dynamics that we find going on in Congress

00:33:44.930 --> 00:34:09.330
Thomas Lambrecht: also affect the Church's legislative process as well, and that's particularly seen in over the last 2530 years. The push to liberalize the Church's teachings on marriage and sexuality has created this kind of tension between different groups within the Church that manifests itself in the legislative process

00:34:09.400 --> 00:34:12.829
Thomas Lambrecht: because you have to vote up or down on things.

00:34:12.889 --> 00:34:14.380
Thomas Lambrecht: and it becomes

00:34:15.050 --> 00:34:24.740
Thomas Lambrecht: a contest and a point of tension, so that I would say that the intensity of the conflict reached its

00:34:24.920 --> 00:34:39.019
Thomas Lambrecht: high point in 2,016 at the General Conference there, which then led to the 2019 General Conference, that reaffirmed traditional teaching, and that was like an explosion in the Church

00:34:39.030 --> 00:34:54.589
Thomas Lambrecht: of controversy and certain parts of the church just decided. We don't agree with this decision. We're not gonna live with it. We're not gonna abide by it. And so that really has led to them the disintegration of the denomination in that sense.

00:34:54.760 --> 00:35:00.769
Thomas Lambrecht: And and so at this general conference you have that same kind of tension

00:35:00.950 --> 00:35:02.080
Thomas Lambrecht: there are.

00:35:02.520 --> 00:35:21.156
Thomas Lambrecht: There's a lot of anger at those who have disaffiliated. There's anger at those who like us who are still around promoting the opportunity for disaffiliation to continue. We're regarded as those who are trying to destroy the church, and so

00:35:22.090 --> 00:35:36.769
Thomas Lambrecht: you know there there is that hostility and animosity toward us that we feel, and and I think it. It probably will be manifested in some of the debates that come about later in the conference. We'll have to wait and see.

00:35:37.159 --> 00:35:48.020
Thomas Lambrecht: It. It may depend on the the the vote difference, I mean, in 2019, it was very close vote for for a church meeting. It was 53 to 47%.

00:35:48.080 --> 00:36:03.420
Thomas Lambrecht: And so if it's that close again. Then, you know, there's that's a recipe for the tension to exacerbate. But if if the vote is more lopsided in favor of one group or another. Then the tension is probably not. Gonna get that high.

00:36:04.980 --> 00:36:19.330
Andy Miller III: What about the worship, sir? Well, by the way, I just want to stop before I talk about the worship services. Thank you for being there. Thank you for, hey? This is this is one of these. Prophetic like calls that you and Rob Renfro and others have taken on like

00:36:19.490 --> 00:36:46.809
Andy Miller III: how not many people are willing to say, you know what? I'm gonna go into a place where there's a lot of people who probably don't. Not only do they wish I wasn't here? They probably wish I wasn't even alive like, so so thank you for having the courage to stand in there, and particularly in light of those who are seeking opportunities to leave and to really to serve serve the church as a whole. So I just wanna thank you, Tom, for doing that.

00:36:46.810 --> 00:36:58.040
Thomas Lambrecht: Well, we feel that that's part of our calling. And certainly we're doing it out of appreciation for the African delegates in particular, who, year after year after year have come over here.

00:36:58.180 --> 00:37:05.780
Thomas Lambrecht: endured much hardship to do so, and have voted to maintain the scriptural position of the Church.

00:37:05.830 --> 00:37:24.769
Thomas Lambrecht: And if it was, wasn't for them, we long ago would have capitulated to the culture and so so, because of their faithful witness over the decades we feel like we owe it to stick around and help them as much as we can. And so that's what we're doing.

00:37:25.440 --> 00:37:38.639
Andy Miller III: Beautiful since. Can you talk to me about the the worship context? There was one picture that was going around on various social media pages yesterday that had a yoga page, and some I don't know, some some

00:37:39.100 --> 00:37:51.680
Andy Miller III: other things I can't, can't quite explain. I don't quite know what they are, so what's what's the tenor like the the spirit in the room in a worshiping context? Is it? Is it moving in a direction of a liberalization there, or what? What do you see?

00:37:52.330 --> 00:38:14.815
Thomas Lambrecht: Well, worship is always been. On the cutting edge of liberalization in the church United Methodist Church, at least. The the terms of the music that's picked in terms of the symbolism and the actions. I mean, for example, we had a native American person get up at the beginning of the worship service yesterday, and

00:38:15.860 --> 00:38:24.879
Thomas Lambrecht: go to the different directions of the compass and invite the spirits, presence and all this, through a native American kind of ritual which

00:38:25.300 --> 00:38:32.189
Thomas Lambrecht: that that kind of thing happens, and that's been happening for probably more than a decade.

00:38:33.200 --> 00:38:54.010
Thomas Lambrecht: it's interesting that when people introduce themselves. They are now having to name their race, their agenda their pronouns things like that. That's just part of the norm now. And so it's it's strikingly in the direction of a a much more progressive denomination.

00:38:55.270 --> 00:38:57.630
Andy Miller III: So they have. They even say they're race.

00:38:58.140 --> 00:39:03.949
Thomas Lambrecht: Yeah, like, I'm a, I'm a black man from from so so and so country. And

00:39:04.800 --> 00:39:05.769
Thomas Lambrecht: yeah, my.

00:39:05.770 --> 00:39:07.400
Andy Miller III: Downs are black. Okay.

00:39:07.400 --> 00:39:12.133
Thomas Lambrecht: Right, or identify as male or female, or whatever

00:39:12.660 --> 00:39:13.370
Andy Miller III: Gotcha.

00:39:14.230 --> 00:39:17.650
Andy Miller III: So there are probably some people in the room

00:39:17.660 --> 00:39:31.760
Andy Miller III: who would still align with a orthodox position on human sexuality and their the churches that they come from would would be very surprised at that. To me it's like as you're sitting there seeing these type of things.

00:39:31.960 --> 00:40:01.290
Andy Miller III: it is obvious where what the trajectory is for the United Methodist Church. It's W. What do you say to folks who are still just saying, Well, you know we have to stay in fight. We're gonna stay down we're gonna go down with this ship. Maybe somebody just called to that. But I was just, and I'm not. I'm not trying to just win an argument here. It's more out of like a spiritual concern for folks who are maybe putting themselves in a difficult place. W. How do you respond to your friends who are saying those making those type of arguments.

00:40:01.770 --> 00:40:10.429
Thomas Lambrecht: Well, there's different kinds of traditionalists, I mean, there are some traditionalists who believe that they they hold traditional positions on all these issues.

00:40:10.510 --> 00:40:29.740
Thomas Lambrecht: But they believe as long as they're able to function freely within the denomination, that that they can stay. And you know, one word for for people like that is a compatibilist person. They're willing to get along with others. And and it they don't believe that the Church, changing its teaching officially

00:40:30.065 --> 00:40:46.030
Thomas Lambrecht: impacts their own personal ministry at all, or at least not very much. And so they're willing to stick it out. And that's one kind. The there are others who who want to stick it out because they do want to be a faithful witness or the scriptural truth.

00:40:46.080 --> 00:41:03.560
Thomas Lambrecht: And in the midst of the denomination there's even some. There's a new group that's just started of of young mostly men. But young people who really do wanna take back the denomination. They? They feel like they're called for the next 40 years to to enter this battle.

00:41:04.020 --> 00:41:20.849
Thomas Lambrecht: and what I say is, you know, we've been doing this for 50 years. The renewal groups, I mean we. This group has accused us of giving up too soon. But but we've been doing this for 50 years, and yes, we've been able to hold off

00:41:20.980 --> 00:41:36.070
Thomas Lambrecht: the official changes in the Book of Discipline until now. But we've seen the church culture evolve in a much more liberal direction, and, as you point out, the trajectory is, is definitely in that liberal direction. And so

00:41:36.434 --> 00:41:59.119
Thomas Lambrecht: we get it got to the point where we thought, do we wanna invest our life and ministry in trying to salvage it a nomination? Or do we wanna invest our life and ministry in promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so we made that decision. And I think that's partly what led to the formation of the Global Methodist Church was that that we felt like

00:41:59.620 --> 00:42:05.709
Thomas Lambrecht: it wasn't worth the fight anymore. Trying to hang on to a denomination

00:42:06.224 --> 00:42:17.080
Thomas Lambrecht: especially in light of the the vast disobedience that was going on, and the lack of accountability, the lack of governing structure in the church.

00:42:17.584 --> 00:42:21.810
Thomas Lambrecht: It just didn't make sense to invest ourselves in that effort

00:42:21.850 --> 00:42:33.190
Thomas Lambrecht: any longer when we should, could really be devoting ourselves to building something new that that promotes the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that we can relate to.

00:42:33.420 --> 00:42:42.284
Andy Miller III: Yes, beautiful. I think that that's that's the the picture of where we're going. It's not just what just what we're leaving, but what we're called to become.

00:42:43.133 --> 00:42:50.000
Andy Miller III: If the legislative process goes the way that you would prefer, and that good news is promoting

00:42:52.550 --> 00:42:57.899
Andy Miller III: And if you're able to make these shifts in the denomination.

00:42:57.900 --> 00:43:26.199
Andy Miller III: What what do you see? Is the future of good news, then would W. Like? I'm curious, cause you all have been working for so long with this W. If you're able to get a way out. What would you all continue to serve? I mean, I know you can't speak for the organization as a whole. I know there's like a leadership structure and a board, and that kind of thing. I'm just curious. It's been such a benefit, I mean, yeah, I can. I could think of a few things you might be able to do. But I'm curious what what you all are seeing as your future, as an organization.

00:43:26.550 --> 00:43:31.870
Thomas Lambrecht: Well, the mission of good news has always been to bring renewal and reform to the United Methodist Church.

00:43:32.750 --> 00:43:38.639
Thomas Lambrecht: If we are no longer part of the United Methodist Church, that kind of changes things.

00:43:38.790 --> 00:43:39.515
Thomas Lambrecht: And

00:43:40.600 --> 00:43:52.759
Thomas Lambrecht: I'm at the point of personally retiring from ministry, and so it, there would need to arise another generation of people with a calling. But but if

00:43:52.800 --> 00:43:56.929
Thomas Lambrecht: if if we're not within the United Methodist Church. Then where are we.

00:43:56.990 --> 00:44:00.849
Thomas Lambrecht: and what is our mission and purpose? So I think

00:44:00.960 --> 00:44:18.538
Thomas Lambrecht: that it would be fair to say that that we believe our mission will have been accomplished through the formation of the Gmc. And the faithfulness to the gospel that we see there, and it might be an opportunity for us to celebrate that and to

00:44:19.150 --> 00:44:21.759
Thomas Lambrecht: bring the ministry of good news to a close.

00:44:22.020 --> 00:44:23.450
Andy Miller III: Wow! Interesting.

00:44:24.196 --> 00:44:46.400
Andy Miller III: In in, you know, there's other other. Some some United Methodist churches have landed in other denominations in in our area. The Congregational Methodist Church is has grown as as a in live disillations, as has the Association, Independent Methodist, the Free Methodist Church, and the like. So there's there's been many way in in. Some, of course, have chosen to remain independent.

00:44:46.705 --> 00:44:55.569
Andy Miller III: But yeah, that's that's helpful to consider that there's this. Now this new phase to be able to say, we did what we did, and we we accomplished the

00:44:55.600 --> 00:44:57.560
Andy Miller III: purpose for which God raised us up.

00:44:58.830 --> 00:45:10.266
Thomas Lambrecht: Well, you know the it's interesting that in institutions always lend towards self preservation, preserving the institution, but that that's not godly. I mean

00:45:10.690 --> 00:45:11.430
Andy Miller III: Wow!

00:45:11.430 --> 00:45:15.489
Thomas Lambrecht: There comes times when the institution needs to say, Okay, this is what

00:45:15.670 --> 00:45:19.830
Thomas Lambrecht: what God has used us for, and He has accomplished

00:45:19.920 --> 00:45:22.809
Thomas Lambrecht: is purpose through us, and our purpose is done.

00:45:23.129 --> 00:45:40.149
Thomas Lambrecht: We need to be E. Even in the local church. We need to be willing to say this time of this ministry is over. We need to start something new God's doing a new thing. That doesn't mean we need to hold on to all the old things we've been to. So I think that's a healthy perspective.

00:45:40.150 --> 00:46:04.209
Andy Miller III: Oh, it's wonderfully hell! I I wish that we could hear that, and so many on many other fronts as we think about what it means to be an organization. Even some churches that have move move to a place where they really are dead if they're not gonna make changes. And I had Tom Rader on my podcast a few months ago, as he was encouraging churches to think about what it means to now. They have this moment of disaffiliation. Well, what do you do with that?

00:46:04.300 --> 00:46:10.879
Andy Miller III: And we we discussed his book, the autopsy of a dead church or deceased church.

00:46:11.040 --> 00:46:11.670
Thomas Lambrecht: And he said.

00:46:11.670 --> 00:46:14.299
Andy Miller III: You know, one of the things you can do is

00:46:14.300 --> 00:46:41.615
Andy Miller III: you can give your building to another church. You can sell your assets, you know, liquidate your assets and then use them for kingdom purposes, and just recognize that there's other things. I don't know what that would mean for good news, but I'm encouraged to hear the way that you're thinking about. I know it's not an announcement or anything like that, don't. I'm not taking it that way, but I I appreciate the way that you all through the years to Jim Heidegger. Was it Kaiser Kaiser Kaiser, who is a founder?

00:46:41.900 --> 00:46:42.230
Thomas Lambrecht: Yeah.

00:46:42.230 --> 00:46:53.849
Andy Miller III: It's a wonderful testament to the work that you all have done, and it. There's other other churches. I think other denominations might need similar groups to rise up to help to serve those churches.

00:46:54.223 --> 00:46:54.690
Andy Miller III: Well, yeah.

00:46:54.690 --> 00:47:06.730
Thomas Lambrecht: You. You know the the the same controversy that has beset United Methodism is is coming to the Free Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Church, and other denominations that are more conservative bent.

00:47:06.790 --> 00:47:09.339
Thomas Lambrecht: and so that that may indeed be true.

00:47:09.890 --> 00:47:11.349
Thomas Lambrecht: But that's not us.

00:47:11.630 --> 00:47:12.870
Andy Miller III: Yeah, that's right.

00:47:13.100 --> 00:47:23.399
Andy Miller III: Well, thank you, Tom, for your service. Thanks for coming on this. On our podcast I'll have one last question. This is completely unconnected to General Conference, or let me just give you, is there anything else you like to say about General Conference?

00:47:24.660 --> 00:47:28.578
Thomas Lambrecht: I think we've pretty well covered the waterfront probably more than people wanted to know.

00:47:28.840 --> 00:47:29.760
Andy Miller III: Okay.

00:47:29.760 --> 00:47:50.099
Thomas Lambrecht: But we do appreciate their prayers. Prayers really sustain us during this effort. It's a 2 week slog through this process, and many late nights, early mornings, and and a lot of intense effort. And so we do really do appreciate the prayers of people and and the ability of them to hold us up before the throne of Brace.

00:47:50.360 --> 00:48:08.589
Andy Miller III: Amen, and we need to do that. So more to the story listeners. Let's do that. Make sure. Taking time just because you might have disaffiliated, or your denomination, or your church isn't experiencing this at this point. There are churches that need to disaffiliate and need the mechanism legislatively, legally to do that. So pray for Tom.

00:48:08.590 --> 00:48:28.399
Andy Miller III: Pray for the delegates who are there who are supporting these processes, that that good news is supporting. So we we wanna do that, and we will do that, Tom. I always asked a question. Is there more to the story of Tom? A lot of people know you through the work that you're doing a good news. Your work in ministry. Is there something that you like to do in your spare time that people might not know about you?

00:48:29.000 --> 00:48:45.439
Thomas Lambrecht: Well, I started out my career life as a music teacher, and I play music, and I've I've led worship for many years, and in a local church. And so I really enjoy the musical expression of of my faith. And that's a part of me that that I really enjoy.

00:48:45.600 --> 00:48:46.910
Andy Miller III: What instrument do you play.

00:48:47.550 --> 00:48:59.489
Thomas Lambrecht: So I I in college I played trombone was my main instrument, but after that, when I began began to be a worship leader. I picked up the guitar, and and so I've been playing that for many years as well.

00:48:59.910 --> 00:49:02.010
Andy Miller III: Oh, fun! Well, I'm a trumpet player.

00:49:02.270 --> 00:49:03.220
Andy Miller III: I get.

00:49:03.510 --> 00:49:03.800
Thomas Lambrecht: You!

00:49:03.800 --> 00:49:10.190
Andy Miller III: I? Yeah, there's not as many avenues to to use it in the church, but when you get the chance to play, it's great.

00:49:10.470 --> 00:49:10.940
Thomas Lambrecht: Kind of like.

00:49:10.940 --> 00:49:20.649
Andy Miller III: Thanks. So much for your time and the work that God's called you to do, and your obedience to His call in your life. It means a lot to me, and I know many people are blessed because of the work that you've done.

00:49:20.990 --> 00:49:26.680
Thomas Lambrecht: Well, thank you for having me on, Andy. It's been a pleasure to Co. Talk to you, and appreciate the connection with your people.

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