Mt. Bethel Methodist Church in East Cobb county has been a beacon of hope for the “least and the lost” for the entire 25 years that I have been a member. Its ministries provide shelter for the homeless, meals for the hungry, comfort for the grieving, and assistance to victims of disasters throughout the county, country and abroad. Our pastor, Dr. Jody Ray, has been our spiritual leader and mentor for the past five years. As many of your readers know, the bishop of the Methodist North Georgia Conference is trying to force him out due to her disfavor of his biblical-based theology.
Our previous senior pastor served us for 23 years. My uncle was a Methodist minister and was used to moving to a new church every two years. But none of his congregations ever had more than 200 members. Mt. Bethel, with over 10,000 members is the largest church in the conference. Traditionally pastors of large churches are not moved without extensive consultation with both the pastor and the congregation’s leadership. The bishop chose not to take that approach. And by not offering Dr. Ray another church it is clear that the true intent was to silence one who favors traditional Christian values.
For this reason, I along with thousands of other members are willing to do whatever is necessary to keep Dr. Ray, including leaving the United Methodist Church, a process that we have already begun. Threats to lock doors, seize assets, and litigation hardly seem a Christian response to an unnecessary crisis.