Today kicked off the 2019 WCA Legislative Assembly. It was a productive day with the entire agenda accomplished in a way that brought glory to our Lord.
We elected 7 delegates to serve the 2022 class. The Resolution endorsing the Indianapolis Plan was debated and adopted with a couple of minor changes. The resolution for receiving and commending the “Draft Book of Doctrines and Disciplines was passed and immediately released to the public for their reading and comments are welcome. The resolution for empowering Ministry Task Forces as accepted and those wishing to join one of these teams can contact WCA President Keith Boyette explaining which team and why you would like to work with that team.
Here is the link to read the Draft of Doctrines and Discipline: https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Wesleyan-Covenant-Association-Releases–Book-of-Doctrines-and-Discipline-.html?soid=1126286182973&aid=68Om2dIeXTE
It was a great Legislative Session with a spirit of unity and Christlikeness. There were 225 delegates present and the diversity of young people, women, men, and ethnic minorities was astounding. I have not been in a meeting in recent times where I felt this excited about the spirit in the room. A spirit of doing something exciting and new. A spirit of working together, and a spirit of orthodoxy. We were actually working together as one.
There were many comments from people who are ready to see change in our church.
“I’m past wanting to shake the dust off my feet and go, but I am grateful for WCA holding us to patient love.”
“Separation will occur in May 2020, Either because a resolution is adopted for amicable separation or because it all comes apart, and the latter would be a more harsh separation for everyone.”
We began the day with approximately 400 people with delegates and observers and by the end of the day we had grown to near 1000 people. Tomorrow as many as 3000 people are expected to be in person and in satellite sites around the world for the closing day.
Submitted by Ronnie G Collins – Clergy Delegate, Holston Conference WCA
As the Holston WCA, let’s be praying for the very important upcoming gatherings in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
First, there is the opportunity on Nov. 9 to attend Transformed, a worship and learning event at Asbury UMC in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click on the link for more information. If you cannot make it to Tulsa, you might instead want to consider a simulcast site. Depending on where you are, you might want to see if sites in the Carolinas or Georgia are closest to you.
Let’s also remember our delegates as they head to Tulsa a day early for the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s Global Legislative Assembly. Most people involved in the WCA understand just how important 2020 is going to be for the future of Methodism, and these folks will be establishing the path going forward.
The following is from Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. It describes the “Indianapolis Plan,” the beginnings of what might go before 2020 General Conference.
By Chuck Griffin
Holston WCA Chair
Part Three of Three
Previously, I’ve talked about the likely split to come and the value of mutual care for one another regardless of theological differences. I also suggested some steps we can take now to prepare.
As the Holston WCA, we also have to prepare for the reality that progressives and centrists in our conference might decline to move toward mutual care. In the near future, you’ll be hearing about these Holston WCA efforts:
I also should address one issue that keeps arising since annual conference. People want to know if their churches should use the exit provision created at 2019 General Conference. In short, it’s probably too early for such a move and likely far too expensive for most local churches. Remember, if we establish a negotiated division of the United Methodist Church at 2020 General Conference, there may be little immediate expense for local churches—pension and other liabilities could be divided equitably between the new denominations. By the end of September, we should have a better idea of what will be proposed at 2020 General Conference.
Blessings on all of you! Be sure you have registered for e-mail updates. Simply go to the bottom of any Holston WCA web page and look for the registration box.
By Chuck Griffin
Holston WCA Chair
Part Two of Three
Previously, I talked about changing our mindsets, accepting the denominational split likely to come and moving toward mutual care for one another as the situation develops.
Here are two broad ideas Holston progressives, centrists and traditionalists need to explore and develop together, assuming they are able to agree to care for one another.
A Theological Alignment Plan
As painful as the process will be, our churches and pastors need to assess and openly declare where they stand on doctrine. I have in the past asserted our problems run much deeper than our approach to human sexuality—we are having basic disagreements about whether traditional methods of scriptural interpretation still apply. Some questions about human sexuality can help us define a stance pretty quickly, however.
Church administrative boards should go ahead and answer these questions: Would we welcome the appointment of a practicing homosexual as our pastor? Would we allow gay weddings in our sanctuary?
More generally, it would be very healthy for churches to assess how they approach Scripture. Is the Bible foundational to the Christian life? Do all the church’s members define words like “resurrection” and “sin” in the same way?
As for clergy—well, I’m not sure what to make of clergy who cannot clearly articulate their theological stances. We’ve been asked to do so annually on our consultation forms in the Holston Conference for at least a few years now. Classifying clergy at the conference level should be a relatively easy task. If a pastor has not answered the question clearly in the last few years, she or he should be asked again.
Once we see how churches align and pastors align, our bishop and cabinet should deal with mismatches between congregations and pastors as quickly as possible.
A Minority Support Plan
Anything like what I’ve proposed above frightens people for a few simple reasons. Lay people who find themselves to be a minority in a church may feel they are being pushed out. Clergy fear they may be out of a job if the ratio of traditional churches to progressive churches does not match the ratio of traditional pastors to progressive pastors—in other words, on one side or another there might not be enough pastoral jobs to go around.
I would note these problems are going to arise, anyway. As I said in Part One of this series, here comes the wave! Without advance planning, the repercussions will be swift and harsh, particularly for some clergy. But if we use the principle of mutual care to manage these changes as early as possible, more lay people and clergy will have soft and perhaps even happy landings in new church homes.
As we map out where our churches stand, it will be easier for people to voluntarily shift to a local church where they identify with the official doctrine. We could even find ourselves starting new churches clearly labeled as progressive or traditional, inviting clergy and laity who feel displaced to seek how God might be doing something new in their lives. Any funds we have designated for church development should go toward such efforts.
The Theological Alignment Plan needs to be executed quickly. I fear our conference leaders already have waited too long to do the serious work that needs to be done. The Minority Support Plan would have to follow on its heels without hesitation.
Next: Where There Is No Mutual Care