At a recent multi-day conference, the Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church used an edited version of the Apostles’ Creed which removed a reference to God as “Father.” When the conference handed out liturgical folders for a worship service, Rev. Keith Mcilwain noticed the change to the historic creed.
Throughout Christian history, churches have recited the creed, which confesses, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. The edited version read, “I believe in God, the Creator Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
Rev. Mcilwain, the pastor of Slippery Rock United Methodist Church, snapped a photo of the edited creed and posted it on Twitter. He told the Christian Post that he obtained a copy of the liturgy from a friend who attended the service.
This move by the Minnesota Conference comes as many denominations are rethinking the way they refer to God, seeing the language as too restrictive. The UMC has been engaged in a discussion about how to use more gender-inclusive language since the 1980’s.
Mcilwain expressed disbelief that this major change to the creed took place with no debate or discussion. He told the Christian Post, "No United Methodist individual or body has the authority to edit those creeds which were formulated by the early Church and have helped define orthodox Christianity for the better part of 2000 years.”
Mcilwain sees this move as driving a deeper wedge into an already splintering denomination. The church has been embroiled in difficult debates for the last few years over marriage, gender, and sexuality. "To see the creed abused in this way is extraordinarily disheartening, further distances our already troubled denomination from the Church Universal, exacerbates already existing tensions within the Church, and harms those affirming the creed by failing to faithfully teach and uphold one of the core essential doctrines of the Christian faith — the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity."
He further added that this stands as a major undermining of traditional Methodist doctrine. "All ordained United Methodist clergy promise to faithfully uphold and teach the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which is shared and defined in Article 1 of our Articles of Religion; I fear that this edited creed represents a failure to be faithful to what The United Methodist Church believes."
The Christian Post reached out to the Minnesota Conference for comment, but they have not yet responded.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Sarah Noltner
Publication date: June 7, 2018