While watching a video of the spiritual hunger displayed at Asbury University last week, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Do you want OUT…or do you want IN?” It was a sobering correction of my focus. What are my motives for disaffiliating? Do I want out of the UMC so I can get back to church as I think it should be, or do I want in on the radical change God is calling us all to as He takes us deeper into Himself?
As part of the Wesleyan Covenant Association Global Prayer Network, we are praying for the Lord to see us through into the new thing he is forming. Our Holston chapter meets every Wednesday through Zoom at 10:30 AM to share prayer needs and to pray through the many challenges we face. We would love to have you join us! Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the Zoom login information.
You can also access a monthly personal prayer guide and encouraging word at wesleyancovenant.org by clicking on the Prayer header.
Becky Wilder, WCA International Intercessors Leader for Holston Chapter
Walter Fenton of the Global Methodist Church will be in Morristown, Tenn., 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, to talk about the new denomination and answer questions.
The Rev. Fenton, Deputy Transitional Connectional Officer for the GMC, will be at Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 425 Wilder St., Morristown, Tenn. 37813. Churches in discernment or that have voted to disaffiliate are invited to attend.
Psalm 107:1 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Hebrews 13:15 – “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.”
By Chuck Griffin, Holston WCA President
If you’re a traditional Holston-area Methodist who has kept up with news of the United Methodist Church the last few weeks, you may have a sense that time is running short for churches to depart the UMC for holier pastures.
You would be right.
In our own Holston Conference, the message from our bishop and cabinet members has been pretty straightforward. I would summarize it as, “Don’t worry, we will take care of you. Just wait until 2024 and everything will be okay.” Supposedly, they even will create a way out for churches after the only current exit path (other than litigation) has expired at the end of 2023.
For the sake of traditional churches that fail to enter the disaffiliation process, I hope they are right, and yet I simultaneously cannot see how they could be right. In light of recent developments, the message smells like a trap, a short-term enticement that can only lead to long-term pain.
Such assurances rest on a major premise. The people in charge of the Holston Conference would have to hold some long-term control over where the larger UM Church is headed, and then be willing to use it to maintain the big theological tent the UM church supposedly has been.
The recent election of bishops at jurisdictional conferences proves this highly unlikely. As WCA Global President Jay Therrell recently wrote, “The United Methodist Church now has the most liberal Council of Bishops in its history. Not one single traditionalist bishop was elected. Not one. Forget about these elections telegraphing the future of The United Methodist Church. They declare the denomination’s present state.”
(For the full article, see “The Big Tent Has Collapsed.” I really don’t feel like rehashing the horrible theology and practices of some of these people elected, but Jay provides a thorough roundup.)
Before the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, the old public relations guy in me theorized that the centrists and liberal delegates might work together there to elect at least one conservative bishop, an outcome that was possible on the first ballot, with a little planning. Such a move would have dramatically bolstered their “everything will be okay in 2024” message.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. At least we know what they really think.
Hear this, too: Bishop Tom Bickerton, the current president of the Council of Bishops, has made it clear to the WCA that once the disaffiliation path expires at the end of 2023, a new one will not be created. Our conference leaders may promise a way out beyond 2023, but they do not have the power to keep those promises without the cooperation of the larger, increasingly liberal UM church.
Any semblance of theological conservatism in the Holston Conference is likely short-term, too. Even if we can classify Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett as a conservative, she is the last such bishop the Holston Conference of the UMC will have. The pool of replacements will be consistently liberal, even in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
Our bishop and others have talked about “making room” for theological conservatives, but we need to understand that at best, that room will be a cot in the basement, next to the water heater. Consider going to the Global Methodist Church, where you’ll have the run of the house, and the rent will be a whole lot less, too.
If you stay, you will be loved in the United Methodist Church only for the value of your building and the ground upon which it stands. That’s the kind of value that can be sold, the proceeds absorbed into the operating budget of a liberal UMC. Your traditionalist beliefs will have no value at all.
If your church has yet to begin the disaffiliation process, you need to do so, quickly. At this point, if you do it today, it may be difficult for you to complete it in time for your church’s departure to be ratified at the called annual conference in April. The bishop has spoken of a possible called annual conference in the fall or winter; pray she follows through.
Contact your district superintendent and ask for the disaffiliation packet. In it, you will find the page your administrative board chair can send back to start the process. And yes, laity, you can send for the packet even if your pastor isn’t cooperating. You don’t need his or her permission.
Get out while you can!
An informational meeting specifically about the new Global Methodist Church denomination will be held 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, in the sanctuary at Alcoa First UMC. The folks at Alcoa say anyone interested in hearing more about the GMC is welcome.
Alcoa First is located at 617 Gilbert St., Alcoa, Tenn.