Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Am No Longer a Candidate for the Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church

Today, the District Committee on the Ordained Ministry terminated my candidacy for the ordained ministry.

They did so explicitly in retaliation for my reporting of the corrupt activities of my District Superintendent.

In fact, it's amazing how brazen they were their reasoning. They didn't even pretend to be acting as Christians. They didn't hide their rationale. Nor did they, or the District Superintendent, dispute a single detail of my allegations against the DS.

It was all about power and protecting the institution from criticism.

So, three and a half years of my life, hundreds and thousands of dollars, and enormous efforts by me and my family are now poured down the drain because of shameless corruption in the Church.

I thought about writing on this blog everything that the District Superintendent did, and the resulting cover-up by the Bishop, but I have relatives in the UMC. And they have asked that I not name names or go into detail on my blog because they fear retaliation. And given the mafia tactics that I have seen in the Church, this does not strike me as an unreasonable fear.


Elizabeth said...

:( So sorry John!

Matt said...

John, I would like to express my sympathy with what must be a very frustrating situation for you, but I can't think of what would could be said to make anything better.

I would also like to add my thanks for having the sincerity and courage to speak out for what you believe to be the right thing, even though it is not the easy thing.

I will pray for you and your family.

Wesley Sanders said...

My prayers are with you, your family, and our denomination. May God bless you on your journey, even if it isn't quite the journey you had in mind.

The Ironic Catholic said...

John, I'm sorry. That doesn't say enough, but it needs to be said.

Is it possible to become a candidate in a different conference? or perhaps something you don't want at this point...?

DogBlogger said...

I'm sorry, John.

Jeff the Baptist said...

I'm sorry for your misfortunes and I hope things turn around for you soon.

Brett said...

We've never met, but you have a friend here. I will be praying for you and the family.

James O'Kelly said...

I'm so sorry!

But remember, brother, this denomination has abused truth-seekers and whistle-blowers from the start. Just google my pen name and learn the truth about "Bishop" Asbury's historic abuses of power.

A united method said...

I'm so sorry!

But also remember, this denomination is not evil incarnate. You are talking about particular people in a particular conference and obviously a very particular situation which few of us are even aware of.

I hate that the UMC has taken what should be a wonderful process of discernment and made it a political tool with you as the victim.

But also remember the UMC is made up of people who are trying as hard as they can to seek the face of Christ. I hope through this painful experience God will put you exactly where he wants you...because after all, your hope should never lie in anything short of Jesus Christ.

Even soem of us in the UMC still believe that.

if I can help in any way, let me know.

John B said...


My heart breaks for you. Please don't think that God has the closed the door to full-time ministry because this door is closed.

We need young, courageous pastors like you and I hope you will explore the idea of seeking ordination in another conference.

Michael said...

I'm a little speechless, but I will say that there is no such thing as education, even a UM seminary one, wasted. The Lord will show you the way. I'm sorry for what you've apparently had to endure, but I am also not very worried about you. You'll land on your feet.

Nathan Stitt said...

Words fail me.

Brian said...

aww man that hurts. Is there another direction to go and not be denied your calling?

TN Rambler said...

I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry to hear this news. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers.

Keith Taylor said...


Look at this a great opportunity.

A methodist pastor in London started a mission ministering to the poor and downtrodden in the Victorian times. He got some second hand army uniforms, got them cleaned up and started feeding them, and marching them around the city teaching them Christian discipline. A bunch of upity methodists didn't like it and worked to get him reassigned to a country church outside of London, knowing that if he went away, his mission, and his lower class folks he was helping would go away. When the pastor objected, the Bishop laid into him and berated him. He told him he had no right to reject his authority as Bishop to reassign him. The pastor, knowing that his missionary work was far more important than the Church politics, looked up at his wife in the balcony of the church where the annual conference was being held, and then, turned around from the that bishop and forever walked out of the Methodist Church.

The Pastor's name was "General" William Booth and the mission and church he founded became the Salvation Army.

Over 100 years later, the Salvation Army ministers to Christians on every continent on the globe.

On the contrary, where is the Methodist Church in Great Britian??? And what was the name of that Bishop???

John, you have and you continue to minister to me on a daily basis. God Bless you and your family.

RERC said...

John, as I mentioned several posts back when you first brought up this topic, in my 42 years in the UMC I personally witnessed bad behavior by the hierarchy on many occasions. The behavior ranged from wrongdoing to inaction to incompetency to political machinations to relocating troubled clergy from church to church.
I feel for you in your situation; it sounds similar to what finally drove me from the denomination.
I'll repeat what I said earlier. There is life after the UMC. Hang in there spiritually and email me if you'd like to talk.

4simpsons said...

I'm really sorry to hear that. I hope your relatives come around and decide to fight for the truth. There is a lot of evil in the UMC -- the false doctrines, the pro-abortion and pro-"same sex marriage" groups and folks like you described. What a shame. I am so glad my church has doctrinally sound pastors.

Can you come to the Texas Conference?

Craig L. Adams said...

This is horrible, John. Like others here, I really don't know what to say. There are other ways to serve God than in the UMC, of course. The denomination is so dysfunctional, it is frustrating at times for those of us who do serve within it. All is not lost. A new direction needs to be found.

JD said...

Sorry to hear that John. Your love of the Lord along with your desire for the truth will ultimately guide you where you need to be. My prayers are with you and the family. Please continue to share your faith with the world...and us :)


Bro. Dave said...

You write: "So, three and a half years of my life, hundreds and thousands of dollars, and enormous efforts by me and my family are now poured down the drain because of shameless corruption in the Church."

I'm not real good with the whole sympathy/empathy thing. Sorry. But ask yourself: Have I been CALLED by God to be a United Methodist pastor? Do still I WANT to be a United Methodist pastor? (Honestly, at this point, you might not.) If yes, then find a way. Don't let one petty district committee screw up your calling / life's ambitions. Find others in your district / conference who support you and raise some H***! They may not like dissention, but they hate bad press even worse!

Will said...

John, I add my prayers with the others. I am sorry to hear about this. May God be with you.

Rev. Jeremy Smith said...

I have heard (and experienced) similar situations in the ordination process.

Our processes are the tension between inspired by the collective at General Conference (and funneling down the pipe to your DCOM) and the stupid petty meat-heads that implement the processes. But when someone like you takes on the institution, the entire process and the people in the process are aligned against you.

My heart weeps for you. May your own broken heart's pieces be swept up and re-created again when you find another niche that God is luring you to ministry...ordained or otherwise.

Marcel said...

John, so sorry for your troubles. I pray next year ends better than this one.

Anonymous said...

I think this sounds like something any newspaper or outlet would love to jump on.

Dan Trabue said...

Sorry, John.

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry! :-(

David said...

If I knew how to fight the power with or for you I would gladly do so.
What I can say with some pretty strong certainty is that the church is coming due for a serious overhaul and the signs, like this one, are only becoming clearer.
I value our friendship, and believe you to be gifted and called to ministry. In some ways I am sorry it is not in the UMC. But with episodes like these piling up in my memory I am beginning to see that we are not in a place to be in ministry as a denomination, but bunkering in for the shelling we are due.
As such I am grateful for persons and churches who are doing ministry and seeking to convey God's Word for the world today.
My peace I give unto you.

Larry B said...

Sorry to hear.

You have shown that integrity and ethics still matter. It's too bad the church hasn't always acted that way.

doodlebugmom said...

I am so sorry to hear this. Only visit your blog occasionally, but feel like I have "gotten to know you" a bit. I will be praying for you and your family.

Jim said...

The only words I can express, besides you're in my prayers, is what helped me through my failing in the ordination process....


Anonymous said...

"Right is right, even if no one is doing it, Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it"- St. Augustine


I'm a United Methodist lay person who has followed your blog for a about five years. I came to you when I found something lacking in our local church. In short, OUR loss; not yours! You will always be firmly in His grip; and in my prayers.


John Wilks said...


I am deeply sorry you've been down such a tough road. I will be praying for your.

If you need to vent to someone who must keep conversations confidential and who has no "dog" in the fight given that I don't know anyone in your AC or district, feel free to contact me.

the reverend mommy said...


Jonathan said...

John, I don't really know what to say because I don't know anything about the situation you are describing. All I can say is that I will pray for you. God bless.

jockeystreet said...

It's odd. You could be standing in line behind me for an hour somewhere, and I probably wouldn't recognize you... but I've been reading your blog long enough to feel that, on some level, I know you. I often disagree with you-- sometimes profoundly-- but I've come to respect your integrity and commitment even when we're on opposite sides of an idea.

This truly sucks.


~c. said...

Hundreds and thousands of dollars for ordination?

Olive Morgan said...

As a regular reader of your blog, I am very sad to hear of your experience. You will have my prayers as you lick your wounds and seek God's guidance for the future. At my advanced age I have seen that God uses painful experiences like this to change people and churches. Keep your eyes on Jesus, looking only unto Him. God bless.

wyclif said...

Although I'm not in the UMC, I hear you on the "mafia tactic"; sadly all too common in God's Church today.

Jeff Lutz said...

The light of God's truth will shine on this one way or another. I have witnessed this in youth ministries as well, it is always sad.

Jeff the misplaced Methodist

Rich H said...

I'll say what is probably already obvious to you: your task now is to discern (again) how God is calling you to ministry. Never a trivial task, it will be made more difficult for you because of the strong emotions you are feeling.

One challenge you may face is maintaining a group of Christian friends who can support you and help in your discernment and faith journey in this critical time. It's possible that your circle largely consists of United Methodists (especially as you have relatives in the UMC).

I know you're not asking for advice, but I'm in the midst of a somewhat similar situation: After 4 years of seminary and 3 years as a licensed local pastor while pursuing ordination, my license was pulled for largely political reasons. The isolation is the worst part, and it makes discernment virtually impossible.

Work hard to surround yourself with trusted Christian friends. Watch out for depression, and seek help if you need. Don't allow anger to dominate your heart.

Our God is a redeeming God! God wil bring good out this situation. This is true even if we cannot see how that is possible.

I pray to God will continue to bless you, and that your journey through the wilderness will be brief.

Paul Martin said...

So srry to read this news, John. Like other commenters I hope you find the place where you can make use of your obviously God given talents and graces for God's kingdom. Sometimes life really .....!

Greg said...

As others have said, I am very sorry to hear about this horrible situation. Your blog has allowed us all to know you in an interesting way that wouldn't be possible in previous ages. Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing. Our lives are richer for it.

I would also suggest that people like 4simpsons stop using this as an opportunity to "poach" John. Let's NOT be like Job's friends and just sit with our friend in as much supportive silence as the internet allows.

willdeuel said...

I am truly saddened by this development, and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Finish that MDiv and spend lots of time in silent prayer and meditation. Remember that God doesn't always show us the Way by opening doors in front of us; the Way closing behind us is often the best we get.

Though we often disagree, I am convinced that this is the United Methodist Church's loss and not yours.

Love you, brother.

trekkerjay said...


I have just read your post and am truly sorry about the outcome of your meeting with DCOM. Having read all the responses to this point, there are other readers who have said things better than I think I ever could, and there is much wisdom in all these words.

Yes, it sucks... big time!! But as difficult as it may be, and as another commenter said, try not to let anger dominate your heart... it is ok to be angry, but don't let it take over in you and become the basis from which your thoughts, words and actions now come.

Keep yourself focused on Jesus, and continue to seek His will... nothing is ever wasted in our lives - God uses all of them... the good and the bad. Your efforts and your seminary education will not be wasted either!!

As I have said in other conversations with you, if God has called you to ministry [and I believe that He has], God will use you [in spite of the DCOM or the UMC]!! Although this DCOM has terminated your candidacy, it has not terminated God's calling on your life, nor has it terminated your being used by God in ministry. Please do not give up, as it might be so easy to do at this point, but continue to seek to discern where God is leading you and how God will use you.

E. Stanley Jones once said, "When every other way is closed, the way of prayer is open." This is so true... prayer is always open to us, no matter the circumstances... and try not to be too hard on God... did you ever think that God might not be too happy with the DCOM either?

I love you, brother, and your wonderful family also [even though I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting the newest member]!! Stay strong in your faith and allow God to guide your steps and to bring healing and peace at this time when it may seem that nothing makes sense.

I will continue to keep you and your family in prayer, that God will bless you with better times and a clear path in this coming new year.

Creed Pogue said...

Obviously, this is a difficult time and I express my sympathy for you.

But, the situation isn't going to get any better unless you talk about it. It would be hard for anyone to retaliate against your family if it is out in the open. What Did Jesus Do?

Oloryn said...

My sympathies, John. Sounds to me like the poison of the "prioritizing PR before effectiveness" principle has struck again. Like most foolishness, it will eventually be self-defeating, but in the meantime, it can be discouraging.

Except, of course, that this hasn't come as a surprise to God. He still has a place for you and your ministry. Go and find it.

bob said...

John, I'm truly sorry, I think the average lay person would be saddened and repulsed by the political machinations. That is why the Church allows this to go on, people don't want to get involved. People like to worship and some fellowship or Bible studies but don't like to mix in money or politics.

Wabi-Sabi said...


I'm saddened to hear this. The only consolation I can think of is for you to think of what good company you are in... those who have been rejected by denominational leaders.

My prayers are with you.

Dr. Tony said...

Despite our differences, I am also sorry to hear of this development. There is no doubt that God called you to the ministry.

As others have said, you need to see where this change in the path you see to walk will now take you.

In the meantime, I think it would be appropriate to post some of the details about what you wrote and how the district responded. This can be done, as you well know, in a manner that protects the innocent.

But if the reasons for this decision are political in nature and have nothing to do with theology or the nature of Methodism, then you really need to post the details. To do otherwise would be to fail in your calling to speak the truth.

e. barrett said...

John - sorry to hear that. I can't even imagine the sense of betrayal that you must feel. Let alone anger.

But don't lose hope, you have a great site with a lot of readers, who you can still impact.

DannyG said...


I've seen you minister in person. I know what these people haven't taken time to learn. You care and are cared for. Whatever you do, don't give up hope. Blessings, my friend, to you and your family.

Andy B. said...

I am sorry John. You will be in my prayers.

Neatorama said...

I'm sorry to hear that, John.

Vicki said...


My prayers are with you and your family. I'm at a loss for words and I am saddened by this news (but based on personal experience, I'm not surprised).

Anything I could add has already been said, but please do not allow this to keep you from the work that God has called you to do.

The Scripture is full of rejections and defeats and even a crucifixion, but none of these set-backs should keep us from focusing on our calling as Christians.

My prayers are with you as you navigate this journey.

Greg Hazelrig said...

My gosh, I don't know what to say. It seems it already has. But know that I'm deeply sorry to hear the news and hope and pray that you will see God's will in this for you.

John said...

Thank you all for your support and compassion. My family and I dearly appreciate it.

As for calls for more details, I regret that I cannot reject the request of my family members to refrain from blogging about it. I will not dishonor their sacrifices for me during these past several months of hardship by denying them this favor. And yes, they could face retaliation easily. Do not assume that these people have any sort of shame about openly exploiting their position of power to inflict harm on others.

I, for one, expected DCOM to end up with the same result, but to couch their reasoning in mealy-mouthed Christianese. They did not. They every explicitly discontinued me for speaking up against my DS.

Some people just have no conscience to appeal to.

soulpants said...


This is a tragedy, yet it may be the very thing the Lord uses to strengthen you. The Religioneer's rejected Jesus. Joseph's brothers rejected him and yet God used their very rejection to accomplish His purposes. I know you know all of know that I am sitting in the International House of Prayer in Kansas City praying for you. IHOP-KC is home to many Methodists.

God is your shield and defense!

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Well that is horrible, and certainly is the Church's loss, too.

What conference are you in? I can assure you that Louisiana, while not perfect, is alot more fair (and sometimes even Spirit-led) in the ordination process that what I've heard about other places.

Jonathon said...

John, this makes me really sad to hear. I am so sorry that things went down the way they did. Be strong. You are such a gift to the Church and to your readers. Please don't lose sight of that.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking at this site and can give some answers to some of the questions. You must physically live in the conference you are seeking candidacy in. Even if the nearest church is across the road, if it is in another conference you must stay in your geographical/political area. You must get permission to begin from your local minister. The DS is also involved. The conference will only kick back to the district. No appeal process really exists and Nashville will state that they have no authority. I know of one person who was accused of bullying the entire local church for filing an appeal with the bishop. What you need to do is transfer to another district after finding a weak pastor and a small church that is so in need of members that you can fit in easily. Then you can get on the committees that influence the minister. The UMC is also very good at creating lay speakers and letting them stay in position for years without any opportunity to move forward.

John said...

I've heard that it's possible to get ordained in a conference that you don't live in.

Not that it matters a whit at this point.

As for finding a weak pastor where I can push my way in -- well, that kinda defeats the purpose of trying to serve Christ, doesn't it?

Do what my successor did: find a small church with a new pastor with few connections. Lie and slander him. Build up a following of your own, telling them that the church will grow only when the pastor is driven out. Then, when the pastor is removed, get appointed pastor in his place. It works!

Anyway, it would take years for that to pay off, and if you're looking at payoff, the Church, especially the UMC, isn't a good bet. If one is taking a mercenary attitude, one can find a better deal.

Anonymous said...

By any chance are you in Detroit West? I personally know of a candidate who went through rejection, told to start over, and is still trying. I would like to know why Koreans are being put in as DS's when they have trouble with English, why conference insiders must have new houses in a poor economy, and nobody is given a chance to care? This problem of candidacy needs to be immediately addressed so that district committees cannot deny callings. One way is to appoint a guide when a calling is expressed, then they can be prepared to go forward. Good Luck and Blessings. Hopefully you can find an appeal process and use it immediately.

John said...

No, I was in Florida Northeast.

I've followed the appeal process all the way up as far as the Discipline has laid out. The higher ups simply refused to process my complaints, or explain why.

The Discipline is no good if it isn't enforced. And Bishops answer to no one.

Anonymous said...

You are right, the Discipline is not being enforced. I find it a bad example that the liberals will flock to the banner of those who are breaking the rules and even hold an ordination for them. Where are the evangelical bishops? Why do they not come out and do an ordination for the victims of the systems failure and violance. Anybody want to take up the cross and take the risk? I know people who are ready.

John said...

It is ironic that Bishop Whitaker was a firm proponent of enforcing the Discipline with regards to homosexuality, but directly refused to enforce it, or explain himself, with regards to my own complaint about District Superintendent Rick Neal's professional misconduct.

The Discipline is just words on paper, like all laws. They have no power at all unless the people charged with upholding them are people of integrity and honor.

Anonymous said...

What the UMC has created is a situation where the leadership is violent, the ministers trying to keep everyone feeling good, and the Discipline is something that holds the door open on a hot day. Frustration is a daily event, the victims not protected, and ther system completly in the garbage. I know of someone who was told to keep beating himself up until he either gave up or accepted the thought that he wasn't good enough to be a UMC minister. I am not making this up. In Michigan the bishop is in one place and the conference offices located in another town.Thsi obviously does not function in regards to accountability. What should be done is the immediate stand down of the candidacy process and the Nashville bureau forced to make up some simple rules that can be obeyed. Until then the victims of this violent program will be forced to leave with their education in order to use what they worked so hard for. They could be useful and better than hiring Presbyterians to be "fill in" clergy. Of course, that would make someone responsible and accountable for all the nasty actions going on in the pulpit.

John said...

I know of someone who was told to keep beating himself up until he either gave up or accepted the thought that he wasn't good enough to be a UMC minister. I am not making this up.

Cults try to break down a person's sense of self-worth, because people with no sense of self-worth are easy to rule.

Your term "violence" is appropriate. Although I have not seen physical violence, the emotional violence is severe.

I'm uncertain by what you mean by a "Nashville bureau". Although there are many agencies there, candidacy seems to be a largely in-confrence process. Perhaps you mean General Conference?

Every four years there is a "study" on the subject of the ordained ministry, ordered by General Conference. All it ever does is re-arrange deck chairs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the identification, had brain freeze yeasterday. The BOOM needs to be the one to take over and set up a set of rules. As for actual violence, I saw a minister actually break down when he was told he was violating the Discipline and charges were appropiate. This so called clergyman ended by threating a person trying to be a candidate with violence. I know from my experience that some of these people are mentally ill, get help passing the test, and now have churches they cannot even preach in effectively. Even if you get blocked in appeals it must be remembered that these guys and gals must be told once in a while to shape up. It isn't happening in the UMC. I am in the same boat, rejected but hanging in. Good Luck.We both need it. I am not giving up yet.

John said...

know from my experience that some of these people are mentally ill

Well, to be fair, anyone who wants to become an ordained minister would have to be crazy.