April 1, 2022
The Rev. Keith Boyette, President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, will deliver a major address at the WCA’s Sixth Global Gathering – More Than Conquerors – in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday, May 7, 2022.
Boyette’s presentation comes in light of major developments that have been closely followed by WCA members and friends.
On March 3, 2022, The United Methodist Church postponed the 2020 General Conference for the third time, stating it will now try to hold the conference in 2024.
Given the conference’s postponement, the proposed plan to amicably and orderly divide the denomination will not be addressed for another two years. The plan, called the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation, was hammered out by a 16 member mediation team that included leading bishops and representatives from theologically diverse advocacy groups. The team worked under the guidance of Mr. Kenneth Feinberg, the world-renowned mediator who offered his services pro bono.
The General Conference postponement comes in a year when other denominations, non-profits, and even the UM Church’s own Women’s Division are holding major gatherings that include the participation of individuals living outside of the U.S. Other organizations have found ways to secure visas for participants or leveraged digital media resources to insure their full participation at their conferences.
However, the UM Church’s Commission on General Conference (COGC) claimed it could neither secure visas for some of the delegates, nor find ways to allow them to participate virtually.
COGC member, the Rev. Joe DiPaolo (also a member of the WCA’s Global Council), openly resigned from the Commission, stating it did not appear to him that its leaders and staff energetically pursued securing visas or leveraging the technological resources necessary for holding the conference this year.
In another major development that came shortly after the COGC’s postponement announcement, the Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) announced it would officially bring the new denomination into existence on May 1, 2022.
In the statement, Boyette, who serves as the TLC’s chairman said, “Theologically conservative local churches and annual conferences want to be free of divisive and destructive debates [in the UM Church], and to have the freedom to move forward together. Every theologically conservative local congregation and annual conference should have the right to join the Global Methodist Church with all of their property and assets intact.”
Boyette’s presentation at the WCA’s Sixth Global Gathering will come six days after the launch of the Global Methodist Church, and immediately following future defining meetings of the WCA’s Leadership Council and its Global Legislative Assembly.
During his address, Boyette will talk about the WCA’s plan to continue advocating for local churches that were hoping to leave the UM Church under the terms of Protocol. He and other WCA leaders believe bishops and annual conference leaders can create exit pathways that are in keeping with its terms and spirit.
“In early 2020, leading bishops, and centrist, progressive, and traditionalist leaders agreed it was time to resolve a decades long dispute that was harming all United Methodists,” said Boyette, who was a member of the mediation team that produced the Protocol. “And given the people who signed the agreement and committed to advocate for its passage – people like Bishops Cynthia Harvey, Ken Carter, and Tom Bickerton, and centrist and progressive leaders like Tom Berlin and Jan Lawrence – I’m confident it would have been adopted at the 2020 General Conference by a wide majority.”
Boyette was not alone in believing that would have been the case. And many theological conservatives, and even some centrists and progressives, believe bishops and annual conferences should continue to work in the spirit of the Protocol to allow local churches to leave the UM Church as amicably, fairly, and orderly as possible.
Last week, the Rev. Dr. Kent Millard, President of United Theological Seminary and a widely respected centrist, called on bishops and annual conferences to act with “Christian charity” and “choose a fair and grace filled path” for allowing theologically conservative local churches to leave the UM Church.
Responding to Millard’s remarks, Boyette said, “I trust that the leading bishops, and centrists and progressives leaders who served with me on the Protocol mediation team, will join Dr. Millard in calling on bishops and annual conferences to act with Christian charity. Their failure to do so will only prolong a dispute that has severely damaged the UM Church.”
Theologically conservative laity and clergy around the UM Connection are already reporting that some bishops and annual conferences are proposing exit terms that fail to reflect the spirit of the Protocol. Many churches are being told they will have to pay lump sum exit fees amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even millions of dollars for larger congregations.
“If traditionalist General Conference delegates believe their local churches are being treated unfairly and so essentially trapped in the UM Church, I am confident they will continue to fight for them at the 2024 General Conference,” said Boyette. “And if that is the case, the conference will be a repeat of the public relations disaster the denomination experienced in St. Louis in 2019. I would think the Council of Bishops and other UM leaders would be doing everything they can to avert such a fiasco.”
Boyette has served as the WCA’s president since May 2017. Before being ordained an elder in the Virginia Annual Conference, he practiced law at Hirschler Fleischer in Richmond, Virginia. As a layman, he served in a variety of capacities at the local UM church he and his family attended, as well as in district and annual conference leadership positions. As a clergy member he was the founding pastor of Wilderness Community Church in Spotsylvania, where he served for 19 years before assuming his role as the WCA’s president.
Widely known for his eight years of service on the UM Church’s Judicial Council (its “Supreme Court”), Boyette has also filed briefs and presented oral arguments before the council, particularly in recent years. As president of the WCA Council, he has traveled extensively in the U.S., Africa, Europe, and the Philippines to meet with leaders across the UM connection. Under his leadership the WCA has established regional chapters in nearly every annual conference in the U.S., and he has recruited global UM leaders to serve on the WCA Council.
“No one understands the big picture of the next Methodism better than Keith. In my five years of working with him, I’ve been amazed by his grasp of our vision and his energy for seeing it realized,” said the Rev. Dr. Carolyn Moore, Chairwoman of the WCA Council and Lead Pastor at Mosaic Church in Evans, Georgia. “His wise and steadfast leadership has united theological conservatives. His presentation will be an important message that WCA members and friends will want to listen to carefully, and then act accordingly.”
More Than Conquerors, the WCA’s Sixth Global Gathering, will be held at Kingsway Christian Church with seating for 1,260 people. People wanting to attend the gathering at the host site should register as soon as possible. In addition to the host site there will be numerous simulcast sites across the United States where people can also participate in the WCA’s Sixth Global Gathering.
To learn much more about the gathering and to register to attend, visit More Than Conquerors online.
East Ohio WCA is not affiliated with the East Ohio UNITED METHODIST CHURCH.
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