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.
During any season, prayer should be our first priority. Certainly, in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, we want to be praying.
Before this crisis began, The Wesleyan Covenant Association formed an intercessory prayer network. Becky Wilder has volunteered to head up our intercessory prayer efforts here in the Holston chapter. This is from Becky:
“We can strategically zero in our prayers to hit the mark and further the Kingdom that God is advancing us into. I will be heading up our Holston WCA intercessory group, praying together via technology (for those who can) twice a week, and sending out a monthly email/letter with specific prayer points. Please ask the Lord if he is calling you to this commitment and if so, contact me by email or phone (leave a voicemail).
“When I heard General Conference might be canceled due to the coronavirus, my first thought was, ‘No!’ Then immediately in my spirit I heard the Lord say, ‘I am putting it on pause so you have more time to pray My Heart for the United Methodist Church.’ God has good plans ahead, and through our prayers we can be a part of implementing them. He’s waiting for our response!”
We are entering a time of fasting and prayer as the global WCA, culminating in group prayer at 5 p.m. local time this Sunday. If you have not seen the details, be sure to take a look at the Prayer Waves announcement.
First of all, to those of you who follow Holston WCA regularly, I apologize you haven’t heard much from us recently.
As you might imagine, those of us who are pastors and lay leaders have been busy trying to adapt to the new worship circumstances brought on by COVID-19. In particular, we are focused on what we need to do to keep our churches bound in the Spirit while the congregants are physically separated.
Know that we continue to pray about and monitor developments surrounding the Protocol legislation going to 2020 General Conference, including when GC2020 will actually happen.
This is more of a personal offer, but during this time I am developing daily devotionals for the church where I pastor, and any of you are welcome to peruse them, of course. Here is a link to today’s devotional:
Blessings on all of you, and let’s be praying fervently together.