P.O. Box 206 302 South Main Street Gainesboro, Tennessee 38562 (931) 268-4771 Office
Gainesboro First UMC
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
"A Caring Community of Faith"

Pastor's Desk


Pastor Tim Dunavant, Josh, Staci, and Mikayla


“Support without accountability gives way to moral weakness. Accountability without support is a form of cruelty.”          - United Methodist Social Principles (found in the Book of Discipline.)


            I’ve been sharing with you for the past few months things that I love about the United Methodist Church. I’d like to do that again this month. In so many faith traditions that I witness in our area, there’s very little accountability offered. This is one of the great benefits about our denominational structure. There is clearly stated theology and polity that I am to follow. And if I get out of line on that I am held accountable to the rest of the church. Yes, that means that I could be called to the carpet by my district superintendent or bishop. But it’s much larger than that. I am accountable to all other United Methodists.


            While this relationship is seen most clearly among the clergy, it is present for all members. We, all 12 million United Methodists around the globe, are in Covenant together. In our baptismal and membership vows we agreed to enter into a covenant with one another whereby we agree to be accountable to each other in a few different areas. We are accountable to teach sound theology. We have agreed to teach each other and guide each other in the pursuit of spiritual maturity. Make sure you take a moment to recognize what that means. That means that we not only have a responsibility to teach and disciple each other, but we have a responsibility to receive correction from one another as well.


            However, accountability is entirely voluntary. Any parent that has raised teenagers or young adults know that you cannot hold someone accountable for their actions unless they allow you to do so. Otherwise your correction means nothing. This is exactly why our denomination is experiencing such conflict in recent years. There are a great many people, and quite frankly most of them are clergy, that have refused to be held accountable by other Methodists in our stated and agreed-upon theology. 


            But we do not have to live into the mistakes of others. Accountability is a good thing. Every last one of us has a tendency to go astray from time to time. I, for one, am very thankful and grateful for the body of believers surrounding me that have agreed to hold me accountable. That includes the district superintendent, the cabinet, and Bishop. But that also includes this congregation, and every other member of this Annual Conference. I find great comfort and safety in knowing that the boundaries are clearly defined by our historic theology. And that if I travel outside those bounds, I will be called back to repentance by my brothers and sisters.


            Modern culture has tried to influence the church by telling us that accountability is not important. Instead, we must simply focus on love. But the above statement taken from our Social Principles reminds us that accountability is part of true love. Accountability and support work together to form the basis for how we love one another in community. And one without the other constitutes the absence of love. Let us press forward into the truth God has for us, never falling for the trap of modern society to offer support and withhold accountability. For this is what it truly means to be a United Methodist.