Yes, this is the Holston WCA website, but there’s no way around it. Many of us are starting to think “Global Methodist Church.”
In just a matter of weeks, those of you who have closely followed disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church will see official GMC communications from our region arriving in your email inboxes and other locations. In terms of GMC development in our area, a lot is going to happen quickly.
A big step occurred last Friday, when a twenty-member Transitional Conference Advisory Team (TCAT) met in person in Wilmore, Ky., for the first time to lay out details of what eventually will be a Global Methodist provisional conference. In the Global Methodist Church, TCATs are short-term conference planning committees.
The new conference is expected to be geographically larger than what we’re used to, the idea being that it can divide into geographically smaller conferences over time as more churches join or form within the GMC. Initially, the new conference will cover what we have thought of as “Holston” (East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia), as well as West Virginia, Kentucky and Middle Tennessee as far west as Nashville.
A name for this developing conference will be announced shortly.
The GMC is taking the development of this new conference very seriously, sending one of its two bishops, Scott Jones, to attend, as well as the Rev. Walter Fenton, the GMC’s deputy transitional connection officer. The Holston area was represented by six clergy who have been accepted into the GMC. They are, in alphabetical order: Rowland Buck, Todd Chancey, Dina Clower, Chuck Griffin, Maria Grimm and Suzanne Whittaker.
The Friday meeting was followed by a Saturday day of worship, attended by more than 300 people. During the two days, Bishop Jones talked about our need to be mission-focused and institutionally lean, with local churches leading the way through sound biblical teaching and loving Wesleyan-style outreach.
The Saturday worship centered on healing, as many of the participants sought relief from the pain they have experienced going through disaffiliation. Several commented afterward how Spirit-filled the day seemed, with high hopes that future conference gatherings will be similarly joyful.
The planners expect the new, yet-to-be-named conference will be able to hold a convening annual conference as early as fall of this year, and certainly by the spring of 2024.
A side note: With most of its leaders moving into the GMC, the board of the Holston WCA currently plans to shut down this chapter of the advocacy group at the end of May. There is a possibility, however, that the Holston WCA could continue to operate if traditionalists left behind in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church want to take over the group’s operations.
Thankful to God for calling us to a new path for Methodism and to all the pastors and leaders who answered the call.