By Chuck Griffin
Over the last several days, we at the Holston Wesleyan Covenant Association have highlighted two preferred paths for churches moving to the Global Methodist Church, set to launch May 1. First is the possibility we could move as an annual conference. Absent that, there is a clear way for traditional churches to transfer in a relatively simple and inexpensive manner, assuming all involved have their hearts in the right place.
For one group of traditional Methodists, however, the situation is more complicated, and we have to do all we can to help them. These are committed traditional Methodists who are members of churches less likely to move to the GMC.
Having heard from some of you in this situation, we know just how concerned you are. Here are some early steps to consider.
First, identify who else in your church is aligned with your theological views. If your church leaders are not explaining these recent developments and the options on the horizon, you may need to form a small group of traditionalists to explore on your own what is happening. As you organize, remember that some of the church members who will stand with you may out of frustration not be attending on Sundays, but would welcome your outreach.
Be sure to let us know about such groups as they form, and we will maintain a private list so we can help you communicate with other nearby groups or traditional churches.
Second, be sure you are assessing your situation correctly, particularly if you are in a large church. It has been our experience that liberal Methodists in some locations are more loud than numerous.
When churches decide which denomination to head toward, their members ultimately will make that decision—not the pastors, not the staff, and not a select group sitting in an isolated room. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, know there are steps church members can take on their own to seek a church conference, a gathering where every member has a vote. It takes just 10 percent of a church’s professing membership to launch such an effort.
Third, if you’re adventurous, you may be positioned to move into the Global Methodist Church faster than many of your fellow traditional Methodists. The GMC will be looking to start new churches, and traditionalists feeling there is no future with their current churches could join together to help with these efforts. I personally think this may be one of the most exciting opportunities for people who have the necessary commitment and energy.
Know this, too. You are not alone, and you are very much on our minds and in our prayers at the Holston WCA as we try to better understand how all of these transitions will come about. Stay in touch with us, and if you can make it, join us for our annual meeting this Saturday.