The role of money and power in deepening the division in the United Methodist Church (UMC)

Money, it is said, is a good servant but a bad master. It is a good servant because with money, one can find solutions to various needs in life. One can live comfortably and have many friends. It is a bad master because sometimes money makes people proud and corrupts them. It can, at times, lead us away from the will of God. 

The same goes for power. It corrupts. When power is misused, it produces the same negative effects as the misuse of money. Money and power blind humans, even committed Christians. In our churches in Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), many conflicts revolve around money and power. Once invested with a certain power, people seek to maintain it and stay in power forever. 

The most striking example is that of the United Methodist Bishops who were elected in 2017 in the Central Conference of Congo. Just one year later, in 2018, in violation of disciplinary provisions, they forced the convening of a special Central Conference in Kolwezi to secure a lifetime mandate. They modified the Book of Discipline of the Central Conference to strengthen their lifelong power as Bishops and amass money.

Because of money and power, people are willing to sacrifice the truth. They accept the unacceptable if it pays well. This is the great difficulty faced by the United Methodist Church in Africa, particularly in Congo (DRC). 

Power and the relentless pursuit of money have exacerbated the deepening division between Progressive Homosexual Centrists on one hand and Conservative Traditionalists on the other. This difficulty is caused by some of our Bishops who do not tell the faithful the truth. They do not truly reveal who they are. They are progressives, but because they only want to remain in power, they tell the faithful that they are conservatives, even though they are actually progressives. 

When they are with their progressive friends in the USA, they are progressives. But when they are in Africa and Congo, knowing that the majority of God’s people are conservative, fearing rejection, they claim to be conservatives in order to deceive vigilance. Since they hold power, members trust them and easily accept everything they say without discernment, believing they are united. They are conservative in their words, simply, but in their hearts and actions, they are progressives in order to receive money from their homosexual partners. 

In Episcopal regions where pastors in rural areas earn around $10 as a monthly salary, when a Bishop can simply give $50 to a pastor, the Bishop is seen as a savior, and everything he says becomes ex cathedra. Thus, the pastor who receives money from the Bishop will be inclined to easily accept everything the Bishop tells him. This is what most church leaders do. As a French saying goes, “A hungry stomach has no ears.” That is why progressive Bishops are followed, not because of the truth, but because of money. This does not mean that conservatives have no money; they do, but first and foremost, they want the truth to be accepted without moral corruption. 

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) That being said, the truth cannot be bought or sold. With or without money, with or without power, the truth never changes; it always remains the truth because it is Christ himself. He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). But he did not say that money is evil; it must be used in a good way and not for corruption. Even without money, even alone or in a group, one must remain in the truth. God is always on the side of truth. 

All of Israel was afraid of the enemy, but Joshua and Caleb challenged them by speaking the truth, and God was on their side (Numbers 32:12). Therefore, in this deepening separation, African conservative Methodists are called to remain united to put an end to the aspirations of progressive homosexual centrists, despite the money distributed by their emissaries, who are none other than Bishops from certain Episcopal Regions. They want Africa on their side at all costs. This is impossible and will never happen. 

African conservatives must wake up, open their eyes, and denounce these things before it is too late. Money and power do not bring happiness. Only the truth does and makes one free. Conservatives must listen to the voice of God and do His will. If God is for them, who can be against them? 

In this deepening separation, the church needs leaders, as Martin Luther King said, who are not in love with money but with justice. Who are not in love with publicity but with humanity. We can also add, who do not need power for power’s sake. May God bless His Church during this period of tribulation and deepening separation, so that the people of God do not follow the allure of money and power but the truth that is in Christ Jesus and is Christ himself (John 14:6). 

Rev. Dr. Kasongo-Lengein Kansempe 

United Methodist Church 

Northern Katanga Annual Conference.

 

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