bishop-timothy-whitakerBishop Timothy Whitaker in Lifewatch SPECIAL REPORT June 1, 2020:
“The United Methodist Church is poised on the edge of a great divide in 2021. It seems probable that the Church will split into at least two main bodies with perhaps several other groups going their own ways for a while. Because of our pattern over recent decades of preferring to fight with one another rather than to separate from one another, one cannot rule out the possibility that there may still be some kind of institutional stalemate in the next year.

“Whatever happens in the United Methodist Church during the next few years, this is a time of instability, but instability offers the opportunity for reform. By reform, I do not mean merely making necessary institutional corrections, such as dismantling a leadership structure and a bureaucracy that lack accountability, but recovering and appropriating for our time the genuine Wesleyan heritage.”


In the May 2020 issue of First Things, Kevin M. Watson, Assistant Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, observes:

As a corporate body, the UMC in America is functionally in accord with progressive sexual morality, even if its official positions are not.

Put sharply, while progressives have failed repeatedly over more than forty years to change the denomination’s position on same-sex marriage, they have succeeded in making the church ungovernable….

One can certainly say that the United Methodist Church is a failed experiment in theological pluralism. But that line of analysis does not go back in history far enough. The mistakes made at the founding of the UMC were largely predictable based on previous developments, for the history of Methodism in America is one of conflict over cultural accommodation.

Read it all at First Things.


pavone_origFr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council (of which Lifewatch is a member) tweets this:  “The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the USA from the start of the outbreak has now reached approximately the number of children killed IN A SINGLE DAY in our country by abortion.”
Here’s the math: As of 3/29/20 at 9:00 p.m., 142,106 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have resulted in 2,479 deaths. According to Planned Parenthood-related Guttmacher Institute, 862,320 abortions were performed in 2017 (down 7% from 926,190 in 2014). Divide by 365 days = 2,363 abortions a day. 


watson_origHeard at the Lifewatch Annual Worship Service on Friday, January 24, at Simpson Memorial Chapel in Washington, D.C. Said by Rev. Dr. David Watson, professor of New Testament and vice president for academic affairs and academic dean at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio:

“Everything came into being through the Word of God—everything: planets, stars, time and space, ideas, wisdom, goodness, and beauty—all these came into being through the Word.
“And yet John holds up one aspect of creation over all others. What came into being in Him was life. And the life was the light of all people. What came into being through the Word of God was life. John could have said what came into being through the Word was righteousness. Or what came into being through the Word was matter. Or what came into being through the Word was holiness.
“But he holds up life. What came into being in him was life, which is why we are here today. Because just as John holds up life in his account of the creation of all things, so we the church are called to hold up life in our Proclamation. We are called to hold up life in a culture of death.”
Full presentation begins at 22:00 at bit.ly/3aL-life


Editor’s Note: The following statement was released on January 31, 2019, by New York Area Resident Bishop, Thomas J. Bickerton, and Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb, about the Reproductive Health Act that was signed into New York State law in January.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

The conversation about abortion has dominated the media over the last few days. In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, one of the most sweeping expansions of abortion rights since abortion was legalized in New York State in 1970. Some commend this action as a significant step toward securing women’s rights and health. Others fear the less restrictive provisions of the new law will lead to an increase in abortions and especially late-term abortions.

Although the number of abortions in New York State has declined in recent years (a trend mirrored across the country), New York has twice the number of abortions as any other state according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan research organization.

The new law now permits abortion after the 24th week of pregnancy in cases where a woman’s life or health are threatened or when an unborn child is deemed not viable and unable to survive outside its mother’s womb. It also allows health care providers to determine what constitutes a health threat to a pregnant woman and expands authorized health care providers to include not only physicians, but licensed nurse practitioners, physician assistants and licensed midwives.

As United Methodists, we are clear about several things related to abortion. Our Social Principles state, “The beginning of human life and ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born.” Our Social Principles also state that, “We are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers . . . We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics. We oppose the use of late term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life.” (Social Principles, ¶161K)

Our Social Principles challenge us to work for the “diminishment of high abortion rates” by “encourage[ing] ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support for initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.”  We urge you to talk with other leaders about how your church might engage in these kinds of ministries.

We are supportive of our church’s current stance on abortion as expressed in our denomination’s Social Principles and encourage you to use these principles as a basis of education and conversation on this sensitive issue in particular.

We know passions run high on all sides of the abortion debate and in the midst of those conversations we know God calls us to a future where the value of every human life – including every woman and every unborn child – is honored and protected. The way to that future will not be found through finger pointing, legislating, or even church programs, but only by walking the path of Jesus with one another.

Grace and Peace,
Thomas J. Bickerton                                               Mark J. Webb
Resident Bishop, New York Area                        Resident Bishop, Upper New York Area


“Today, I have signed a letter to Congress to make clear that if they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will issue a veto. And, we have the support to uphold those vetoes. Every child is a sacred gift from God.”

Source: President Donald Trump, speech to the March for Life rally, 1/18/19, https://www.lifenews.com/2019/01/18/president-donald-trump-tells-march-for-life-i-will-veto-any-bill-that-promotes-abortion/ (Accessed 1/23/19. Article includes complete text of President Trump’s speech.)


“Primary nationwide abortion statistics for the United States are available from two sources—privately from the Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and publicly from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Guttmacher’s numbers, published every three years, come from direct surveys of all known and suspected abortion providers in the United States. The CDC numbers, published annually, are derived from actual counts of every abortion reported to state health departments. Unfortunately, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire do not publicly report abortion totals. As such, Guttmacher’s abortion numbers are more complete, but they are approximations.” Read more