Reckoning Methodism

What should we make of a splintering church, denominational division, and over fifty years of acrimony in the most mainline of mainline churches in the United States?

“We’ve learned this is not as much about human sexuality as we thought.
. . . This is about power, control and money.”

— Bishop Thomas Bickerton, President of the Council of Bishops (New York Times, December 18, 2023)

Reckoning Methodism is a timely appraisal of White church and society. This book seeks historical clarity, collective repentance, charismatic learning, and institutional courage as United Methodists reckon with inherited animosities and divisions.

Reckoning Methodism: Mission and Division in the Public Church is available at Amazon, B&N, and Cascade Books (March 2024).

A feature publication of the American Academy of Religion.

If you would like to write a review of the book for your conference newsletter or other publication, request a free review copy here.

Darryl Stephens is “[one of] three of the denomination’s best analysts
UM Insight, Nov 2021

This work is essential reading for those who care for the church.” —Prof. Kevin Carnahan

“an incredibly vulnerable and hope-filled book”—the Rev. Dr. Andy Stoker, Central United Methodist Church, Albuquerque, NM

A prophetic call . . . Reckoning Methodism is a must-read.“—Prof. Hendrik R. Pieterse

the ‘reckoning’ is applicable to the broader society“—Bishop Kenneth L. Carder

Excerpt: The end is near for The United Methodist Church, at least as we have known it—and not for the reasons you might think. View my presentation on “United Methodism at the End of White Christian America.”

Presentation at United Methodist Scholars Gathering, Dallas, Texas. Video streamed live on Aug 7, 2019.

Advance Praise

“Darryl Stephens insightfully explores the many fault lines running through The United Methodist Church—including those related to race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and mission—and graciously suggests how the church may nonetheless pursue honesty, dialogue, healing, and justice. This book offers much to reflect on for those seeking to co-create a more just and equitable church.”

—David W. Scott, director of mission theology, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church

Reckoning Methodism provides a much-needed historical, sociological, and theological analysis of the divisions, challenges, and opportunities of Methodism. With careful scholarship and a passion for the church’s mission and ministry, Darryl Stephens probes the factors leading to current brokenness within Methodism and prods us toward repentance and a new future. Though the book focuses specifically on Methodism, the ‘reckoning’ is applicable to the broader society where ideological polarization and institutional dysfunction prevail.”

—Kenneth L. Carder, distinguished professor emeritus of the practice of Christian ministry, Duke Divinity School

“Darryl Stephens is unparalleled as a scholar of United Methodist social doctrine and theology. In a season of division, he prompts us to look again to the wealth of this tradition to repair errors of the past and find new ways forward. This work is essential reading for those who care for the church.”

—Kevin Carnahan, professor of philosophy and religion, Central Methodist University

“By all accounts, The United Methodist Church finds itself in existential crisis today. Writing with the hope and anguish of an insider, Darryl Stephens expertly lays bare the deep structure of this crisis, rooted in what he calls the ‘white mind’— an imperialistic mindset buoyed by white privilege and white supremacy. A prophetic call to radical denominational renewal, Reckoning Methodism is a must-read.”

—Hendrik R. Pieterse, associate professor of global Christianity and intercultural theology, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Related Publications

Methodist Morals: Social Principles in the Public Church’s Witness. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2016.

A Widening Stream: Comparing and Contrasting United Methodism’s 1968 and 2008 Mergers,” Methodist History 58:3 (April 2020): 165–76.

United Methodism at the End of White Christian America,” in Sightings, The Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion, March 4, 2019.

Sand Creek: Repenting of an Imperialistic Mind-set Then and Now,” United Methodist Insight, April 7, 2016.

“A Cross-Cultural Dialogue of Social Principles,” Methodist History 54:2 (Jan 2016): 102–16.

“Face of Unity or Mask over Difference? The Social Principles in the Central Conferences of The United Methodist Church” Thinking About Religion 5 (2005).

See alsoMethodist Moralson this website.