By Chuck Griffin
Holston WCA Board Chair
Oh my. The water has flowed very rapidly under the bridge the last few months, hasn’t it?
COVID-19. (Did I even need to say that?) And of course, there are the virus’ effects on the church. Our doors are closed right now. The 2020 General Conference, in which we invested so much hope for a clean separation into two denominations, has been postponed to an indefinite date—maybe for as long as a year and half. Annual Conference will be slightly more than a formality, but certainly very limited in scope.
Whether you’re clergy or laity, your mind probably has been on helping your local church function in this novel environment. But if you’re reading this, you’re still likely interested in the work of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. I figure it’s about time to provide you with a reintroduction to the global WCA and its Holston chapter, something you can share with others.
An Advocacy Group
First of all, we exist to advocate for what is called conservative, traditional or orthodox Methodist doctrine, employing a kind of theology rooted strongly in Scripture. The WCA at both the global and chapter levels functions as a response to advocacy groups formed in earlier years to push liberal doctrine and theology.
I point out this advocacy role because some confusion has arisen with all this talk about a new, traditional denomination. Joining the WCA as an individual or church does not mean you have joined a new denomination. It simply means you agree with this advocacy group’s basic values, and you want to see those values expressed in our branch of Christianity known as Methodism.
Now certainly, the WCA has been heavily involved in negotiating the agreement we hope will lead to a clean separation from the UMC, and WCA leaders have taken on the role of designing what a new denomination might look like. Any new denomination will be much broader than just those who were in the WCA, however, incorporating all sorts of Methodist-minded people who choose to call themselves orthodox, conservative or traditionalist.
I expect people will be surprised at how global the new denomination will be, with laity coming to it from diverse backgrounds and clergy coming to it from a variety of seminaries and other forms of training. What we will share will be a common understanding of Scripture as the foundation for our beliefs.
So, why be involved in the WCA’s advocacy? Why not simply wait to see how all this denominational planning shakes out?
Frankly, a whole lot of people will do just that. That’s not unusual any time there’s a movement in the works. Many people won’t commit which way to jump until they feel the landing spot is secure.
At least a few people have to move early to secure that spot, though. Being a part of the WCA makes you one of those people.
A Particular Tone
In the midst of a variety of conservative Methodist voices, the WCA also tries to maintain a particular tone, summarized in four words here in Holston: Scriptural, Orthodox, Positive and Faithful. No one is perfect, but we do the best we can to honor this commitment.
I’ve already talked about how we hew closely to Scripture. By “orthodox,” we mean our interpretations and practices align with the core truths the church has upheld since its earliest days, particularly in regard to the teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
By “positive,” we mean our words and demeanor should reflect the great hope we carry in our hearts. We know we are resurrection people; we know our loving God is at work in our lives now. We are faithful to these truths in good times and bad, regardless of shifting social circumstances.
If we fail to be Scriptural, Orthodox, Positive or Faithful, I invite you to point out our error. It may be that in our imperfection, we have strayed for a moment from the path and need the correction. It may be you have confused others’ messages with our own. Just as there are angry liberals, there are angry conservatives, and they sometimes speak loudly, but they don’t automatically speak for the WCA.
Know that we of the Holston WCA are here for you. Feel free to contact us privately, and when circumstances allow, our representatives will be glad to once again speak to larger groups.
In all circumstances, be blessed, and rejoice in your salvation!