Conservative African Methodist Denounces the Racism of Progressive American Bishops

As part of the lead-up to the United Methodist Church’s special session, the Reform and Renewal Coalition Breakfast was held on February 23 in St. Louis. One of the breakfast’s keynote speakers was Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, dean of Gbarnga School of Theology at United Methodist University in Liberia. In his thoughtful, nuanced speech, Dr. Kulah held the progressive American Bishops’ feet to the fire over their patronizing racism.

In case you missed the news, the United Methodist Church is holding a special session of the General Conference. Over the course of the three-day session, the 864 General Conference Delegates will discuss and vote on the Council of Bishops’ proposed Commission on the Way Forward. In a nutshell, the Commission on the Way Forward offers three paths the denomination could take regarding same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ ministers. On one side, progressives are urging full affirmation of LGBTQ individuals and their full and complete integration into the life of UMC churches. The other side, of course, is seeking to obey the Bible’s teachings on sexuality and marriage. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess as to what the UMC will look like on the other side of the special session, which ends Feb. 26.

As part of that larger conversation, the Reform and Renewal Coalition consists of a group of conservative Methodist organizations. As a group, they have been active in denouncing how progressives continue to hold the UMC’s theology hostage. As a general rule, Methodist churches on the African continent are conservative. They are also fed up with the patronizing racism of the American bishops.

After calling for Methodists to stand firm in their commitment to biblical sexual ethics, Dr. Kulah gave this pointed rebuke:

And then please hear me when I say as graciously as I can: we Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.”

Let me assure you, we Africans, whether we have liked it or not, have had to engage in this debate for many years now. We stand with the global church, not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.

We stand with our Filipino friends! We stand with our sisters and brothers in Europe and Russia! And yes, we stand with our allies in America.

We stand with farmers in Zambia, tech workers in Nairobi, Sunday School teachers in Nigeria, biblical scholars in Liberia, pastors in the Congo, United Methodist Women in Cote d’Ivoire, and thousands of other United Methodists all across Africa who have heard no compelling reasons for changing our sexual ethics, our teachings on marriage, and our ordination standards!

We are grounded in God’s word and the gracious and clear teachings of our church. On that we will not yield! We will not take a road that leads us from the truth! We will take the road that leads to the making of disciples of Jesus Christ for transformation of the world!

I encourage you to read the full text of Dr. Kulah’s speech (you can do so by clicking here). It’s excellent and contains much truth that Christians of all denominations should heed. It also serves to highlight the hypocritical racism of progressive Methodists who love to talk about diversity yet who demand that people of color quietly obey them.