As one of your delegates to the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s first Global Legislative Assembly, I want to offer you an update on today’s event.
I’ll begin by saying there was worship, of course. As many of you have experienced while attending other WCA events, the Spirit moves in powerful ways when we gather. We heard God’s word preached in faithful, innovative ways, and our Creator, Savior and Comforter God was glorified as we sang.
The delegates established some critical statements and positions during the day. I note that while the WCA Council brought drafts, this was no rubber-stamp operation. Most of the resolutions were modified in some way by the gathered assembly after much thoughtful debate.
Here are some brief summaries of what passed, with some links to more information.
Fundamental Features & Principles of a New Methodist Denomination. This is the item that probably will generate the most talk. Opponents of the WCA like to describe the organization as “divisive”; I would point to the highly conditional language in the document, which makes clear a new denomination would form only if the 2019 General Conference creates circumstances where orthodox clergy and churches feel they no longer can function within the UMC. In 13 points, the document describes a church deeply rooted in Scriptural tradition and loving mission to the world.
Resolution Empowering Preparation for Next Steps. This empowers a working group led by WCA Council Chair Jeff Greenway to “envision a revitalized Methodist movement with or, if necessary, outside the UM church.” Its work is to be completed by Feb. 20, with the possibility of convening a conference to launch a new Methodist movement within 60 days of the 2019 special UMC General Conference.
Resolution Declaring Position of the WCA on Matters to be Considered by the Special General Conference of The UMC. This document supports the Traditional Plan “as amended by the petitions submitted by Dr. Maxie Dunnam and brought into conformity with Judicial Council Decision 1366.” It also calls for a “gracious exit” decision, which would provide a clear path for congregations and institutions to leave the United Methodist denomination with property and assets after the General Conference 2019, should they see fit to do so.
Statement of Doctrinal Standards. Its opening line: “The Bible as Holy Scripture is the primary authority for faith, morals, and service, against which all others must be measured.” From there, it lays out The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed and The Definition of Chalcedon as historic developments that helped define our faith. It also discusses specific Wesleyan influences on our doctrine and lists “liturgical norms” that “give voice to the living faith of Wesleyan people.”
We also elected people to the WCA Council class of 2021. I’ll list them in alphabetical order: Bill Arnold, an Asbury Theological Seminary professor; Joe DiPaolo, a pastor in Eastern Pennsylvania; Jeff Jernigan, a layperson from North Georgia; Jerry Kulah, an elder in the Liberia Annual Conference; Tom Lambrecht, a pastor from Wisconsin; Jessica LaGrone, a pastor from Texas; Carolyn Moore, a pastor from North Georgia; Chris Ritter, a pastor from Illinois; and Stephen Sparks, a pastor from Mississippi.