Our daughter-in-law made the courageous choice a few years ago to marry our son, leave all she knew in her native Kyrgyzstan, and come to America. As I have watched her struggle to learn a new language and culture it has made me realize how much I’m attached to what I know and am comfortable with.
Recently I read again the story of Peter in John 21. After the trauma of Jesus’ death, and then the incredible proof of his resurrection, Peter’s emotions must have been a mess. So, he returned to fishing, to the familiar, to what made sense in his crazy roller coaster life. Now Jesus was asking him to choose whom or what he loved the most. Would he decide to go back to what he was comfortable with or step out into the unknown? It’s one thing to invite Jesus into our life; quite another to let go and follow Him into His.
I wonder if John Wesley and his friends felt a similar struggle in the early days of Methodism. They had no intention of starting a new denomination. Wesley’s dream and focus was to bring a renewal of the Holy Spirit to the Church of England, the church he knew and loved. But, with the Revolution and pioneer lifestyle of our new nation, a different expression of the Gospel was needed. God formed a new denominational structure carried by circuit riders—a far cry from the Church of England model Wesley had known.
Once again we are struggling with how to get the Good News to our generation. What will our new expression look like? Pray for our WCA leaders to have clear vision to see God’s plan for our future as Methodists, even if it is radically different than what we have known. God’s promise to build his church still stands and if we choose to love him “more than these,” he will see us through.
Also, I encourage you to read the 7/20/20 report, God of Hope by Bishop Khegay of the UMC Eurasia Episcopal Area for insight into how other Methodists are struggling during this Covid-19 crisis.
August Prayer Points
The Holston WCA Intercessory Prayer Group meets on Zoom at 11:00 Wednesdays and we would love for you to join us. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the access link.
Holston WCA International Intercessor Network Leader
In Acts 1:4, Jesus told his disciples, “Do not leave … wait for the gift my Father promised.” The Spirit came to those who were waiting in the upper room. I invite you to take these three days of Pentecost, beginning Thursday evening, to wait in the Lord’s presence and seek what he wants to release to us for the days ahead. Then join with others via the WCA Facebook page (facebook.com/wesleyancovenant/) Sunday evening for our corporate prayer gathering.
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!
I don’t like change. I don’t like being uncomfortable or not knowing what lies ahead. But it seems this is what we’re being forced into, both in our world and as United Methodists. As the leader of the prayer-focused Holston chapter of the WCA Intercessors Network, I would like to share some insights to help you direct your prayers as we walk through this time together.
During Holy Week I re-read the Exodus account of Passover and saw many parallels with our current situation. For generations, the Hebrew people only knew one way of life—that of being under the influence of the Egyptian society. Then a “fullness of time” moment came when God catapulted them from everything they knew into the unknown. Although this freed them to experience God in new and amazing ways, they had to resist the pull to go back to what was familiar. As United Methodists, we’re being forced to make a similar choice. We can stay connected to church as we know it, or we can let go and step into the unknown.
When I was asking the Lord for prayer strategies to overcome the opposing forces before General Conference 2016, he interrupted my thoughts with a picture of a cocoon and said, “Are you willing to let go of your cocoon in order to become my butterfly?” As I “saw” that butterfly let go and fly out of the cocoon, all of a sudden it exploded with blinding light. I realized the Lord was saying that people aren’t the problem. The real issue is that the structure we know cannot hold the glory he is ready to release through us. Are we willing to grow into the next season with him?
I don’t know what this will look like. We have a great heritage and all of it will bear fruit, but I can’t determine what parts of my understanding or desires have to be shaken off and left behind. I do know the key is to keep my eyes on Jesus. The Israelites made mistakes in the new land. They struggled, even despaired at times, but as they looked to God’s presence in the cloud by day and the fire by night, he guided them through.
I invite you to join us in praying for the Lord to see Holston through into our new land. God’s heart is for every person in Holston to cling to him and enter into the new. Let’s join our voices with his and not leave anyone behind in Egypt!
The Holston WCA Intercessory Prayer Group meets on Zoom at 11 a.m. Wednesdays and we would love for you to join us.
Becky Wilder – email@example.com
Somber as the day is, we at the Holston WCA pray your Good Friday experience is a blessed one. Here is a gift to us from David and Kathryn Davis Bowden. David, by the way, is a Holston WCA board member.