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Albany’s Beckum is a possible for bishop

CREEDE HINSHAW

CREEDE HINSHAW

A nation-wide leadership search is taking place in the United Methodist Church this week in three locations where church delegates are electing eleven new bishops. This process of discernment will be of particular interest in Southwest Georgia since one of the nominees is the highly qualified Dr. Robert Beckum, former pastor of First United Methodist Church in Albany. One election is taking place at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, where 14 candidates seek to be elected to replace five retiring bishops. Dr. Beckum would serve the church very well.

What is the most appropriate way to secure church leadership? In the Old Testament God often anointed leaders through a prophet who selected Israel’s next king. Samuel filled the role of kingmaker, finding King Saul hiding among the baggage and anointing him king, then later selecting the insignificant, overlooked child David to replace Saul. There was no election. God spoke through a prophet.

In the New Testament (Acts 1) the disciples, determined to maintain twelve disciples in the face of Judas’ death, narrowed their choices to two men and cast lots to select the right person, thus leaving the final choice in God’s hand.

I’m not suggesting such a process for local or national secular elections. Republican Mitt Romney, for instance, is using a questionnaire with 80 probing, personal questions for each potential candidate who might become his running mate. Officeholders will always be selected by the voters, even though there are examples of elections ending in a tie vote where the top two candidates broke the tie by tossing the dice, flipping a coin or drawing for high card.

But do we need to elect church leaders, at any level of governance, in the same way we elect secular officeholders? Yes, the United Methodist Church has elected God-filled men and women as bishops over the years. But having been privileged to be a voter five times over twenty years in these Methodist elections I’m not sure we came out any better for the long season of church campaigning and speechifying leading up to a five day conference filled with droning reports, sidewalk arm twisting and excruciatingly lengthy worship services thinly disguised as time-fillers between each successive ballot. Usually by the time the final bishop was elected everyone is exhausted, thanking the deity that the process is over for another four years.

The Hutterites in Montana (akin to Mennonites and Amish) may point the way forward by how they select the leader of their religious community. They narrow the choices down to six-seven candidates and then put an equal number of slips of paper in a hat. Six slips are blank and the seventh says Soll Lahrar sain (You shall be the Lord’s servant.) Each candidate draws a slip of paper and God makes the choice, therefore avoiding electioneering, church politicking and resentment, not to mention the holding of costly, time-wasting and largely unnecessary conferences.

Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at creede@wesleymonumental.org.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 9 months ago

Beckum was a disaster at Albany FUMC.

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whodat 1 year, 9 months ago

I beg to differ. He was one of the best that church ever had.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 9 months ago

Baloney, when Beckum came to FUMC it was common for our church to have 1000 to 1100 members at Sunday's 11:00 service. By the time he left we were lucky if there was half that at all the services. The demographics of the church shifted dramatically and long standing members departed on their feet not in caskets. I won't go into programs and staffing, that's another story. He's been running for Bishop since he was ordained. If he's elected as an episcopal prelate he'll be running for pope soon after.

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whodat 1 year, 8 months ago

You want to talk attendance? for the weeks of (June 17-July 15) the numbers are as follows: Average attendance for Sunday School=355.8, for Morning Worship=520.4, for Evening with Our Neighbors= 211.4. (source: http://www.firstmethodistalbany.com/)

So, nearly 10 years have passed, there have been 2 new ministers since he left, and there has been no improvement on the numbers you claim Beckum was responsible for decimating. I’d love to hear your spin on why that is. After all, those people who left the church have had plenty of time to come back. And new members are always welcome.

And, the last I heard, you have to be a Roman Catholic to be considered for Pope.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

You are mistaken. Your morning worship statistics are those of the 3 services combined. July 15 bulletin lists the following: 8:30 am - 105; 9:00 am 185; 11:00 am 238 for a grand total of 528. When Beckum showed up in Albany the 11:00 services would be full. It was not unusual for the rushers to put chairs in the aisles with the balcony packed. There was only 2 services then. 10 years have passed but it's hard to get the toothpaste back in tube. I heard the same thing about having to be Roman Catholic to become Pope but I doubt Beckum believes it. Under any circumstances, he should't be elected to the episcopacy in any denomination.

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