by Keith Lenard
A question asked at small groups called bands. A question I answer weekly in my band. I’m frustrated and tired of the same lack of integrity from clergy who claim to want to be in a church, but do not want to follow or choose to blatantly violate church law. Not only church law, but also what I and Christians throughout the centuries have believed the Bible to state.
About ten minutes after a vote which took place in the Clergy Session (A rule about Clergy Session is, we cannot talk about Clergy Session). I had to make a call to get perspective from a wise retired clergy, because like many I am just ready to walk away, looking to other denominations for a home without a broken covenant. Am I still frustrated? A little. Thankfully the wise clergy put things in perspective. Even though it’s not ideal, here is what I realized. A covenant between clergy continues to be broken and fractured a bit more, no changes here. What is a person who abides by the doctrine and Discipline to do? Our options are: to continue to fight when the terms of The Protocol are already on the table (not recommended) or wait until The Protocol passes next General Conference 2021 and leave for a more faithful and fruitful Wesleyan movement (Technically, if it was not for Covid, the General Conference would already have voted and the local churches, which are orthodox leaning, would be in a new Wesleyan denomination by now after a local congregation's meeting called a church conference where all professing members are able to vote (Paragraph 248 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)). I’m frustrated it feels like we are so close and yet so far from General Conference 2021.
What do we do while we wait?
We cannot stew in our frustration. We need to think, “What is the next faithful step?” a lesson I learned from Rev. Lovett Weems. We are awaiting General Conference 2021 to formally split the United Methodist Church (I say formally because the denomination has not been in order, but chaotic). Even though we believe The Protocol will pass, we have to wait until all the votes are counted next year. The General Conference step is in place already. All we do now is wait. We might hear the same updates about the new Wesleyan movement. Let’s be patient because word is getting out and new members need to get acclimated. New members are joining, we have to catch them up on events. Our waiting now in the Wesleyan sense is not like the early controversy of stillness. We are Wesleyans, not Moravians of the 1700's. Let’s continue the means of grace in our sanctification. We wait on the Lord for this renewal in the Wesleyan tradition by being obedient to God's Word and spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ. Don’t lose heart!
Waiting on God for me has also been a time of preparation. Like my personal experience of the Holy Spirit's teaching me in liminality, the WCA is preparing for the formality of the schism. The Global WCA is preparing for a global awakening, AND I STAY BECAUSE I BELIEVE THE WESLEYAN DOCTRINE IS THE CATALYST THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL USE FOR THIS AWAKENING. In the waiting, Ministry Task Forces have more time with another year of planning as we await General Conference 2021. The Draft Book of Doctrines and Disciplines which the WCA will have another year for you to read and prayerfully consider joining or putting legislation forward for changes. The Global WCA is still in ministry (WE DO NOT STOP!) providing funds to the Central Conferences, you can read about here: https://wesleyancovenant.org/2020/06/12/central-conference-ministry-fund-keeps-vital-projects-moving-forward/ . If you are looking for WCA churches in Michigan, here is the list: https://wesleyancovenant.org/recommended-churches/ It is not too late to join individually or as a church, join here https://wesleyancovenant.org/membership/ .
God would want all of us pastors and laity alike, while in this waiting, to minister in works of mercy and piety. We need to continue to be the church, which equips the saints for ministry and teaches orthodox Wesleyan theology in an evangelistic tone. We are growing churches now! Let’s not wait until September 2021 to be a missional focused church. The church exists because Jesus sent us on a mission in Matthew 28. We are meant to be a movement! Disciples we are and disciples we will make! The Father and the Son sends the Holy Spirit to help us on this journey. Do not lose heart, keep and spread the faith, and persevere to the end.
May God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit continue to bless you and the Church with faithfulness, fruitfulness, and in this waiting, patience.
Keith Lenard is husband, father, former attorney and also serves as pastor at Petersburg and LaSalle: Zion United Methodist Churches. He was a delegate to the WCA Global Gathering in Tulsa and serves on the Michigan WCA board.
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