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The Tulsa Pentecost of a New Methodism

The 2nd Global legislative assembly of the Wesleyan Covenant Association was completed November 8 in Tulsa Oklahoma. Two hundred twenty five delegates from every Annual Conference in North America plus many overseas delegates attended the session held in the Mason Chapel of Asbury United Methodist Church. Representing Michigan were Rev. Tom Anderson of Highland UMC, Robert and Sue Hegel of Mio UMC, Rev. Keith Lenard from Grosse Pointe UMC and Rev. Tara Sutton of Grand Blanc UMC. Rev. Dr. Joy Moore also attended as a member of the Global Council of the WCA. The assembly began with an official statement from the Korean Association of United Methodist Churches, representing approximately 241 congregations across the United States. The Korean Association formally supports the plan to separate the United Methodist Church and has officially aligned itself with the Wesleyan Covenant Association. They no longer wish to “compromise their faith and want to be able to freely teach Biblical holiness and to rebuild the Methodist Church.” The assembly then took up a resolution to endorse the Indianapolis plan of separation. The plan was submitted by centrist leader Rev. Kent Millard, president of United Theological Seminary and negotiated by both traditionalist, progressive and centrist leaders. The plan was developed within some important parameters. There must be a legal continuation of the United Methodist Church in order to avoid constitutional amendments or changes. Hence, the new centrist/progressive church will be the repository of most of the current UM structures. Since the General Conference does not have the power to force an Annual Conference to vote, there must be a default position for those Annual Conferences that do not vote to join one of the two new denominations. In North America, that default will be to the centrist/progressive denomination since 28 conferences have already declared opposition to the Traditional plan. In the Central Conferences the default will be to the Traditionalist denomination since nearly all the Central Conferences are in support of the Traditional plan. The WCA assembly voted 95% to endorse the Indianapolis plan. Most leaders of all persuasions now recognize that separation is desirable and inevitable. In the event this plan fails at the General Conference in 2020, the WCA supports the full implementation of the Traditional Plan with all its accountability features. The assembly recognizes this is not a long-term solution of our unrest and further authorized the Global Council of the WCA to call a convening General Conference for a new Methodist denomination if necessary. Delegates received and commended a draft of a Book of Doctrine and Discipline for a new Methodist Church for comment. The first 6 parts have been released to the public on the WCA website and an e-mail address for comments and input has been established: Rev. Jeff Greenway urged the delegates, “Don’t wait until the decision is made to begin dreaming about what the future might look like.” The document is a work in progress and the WCA council will continue to review and modify it in preparation for the launch of a new General Conference. The understanding is that only the General Conference of the new Methodist church can finalize the Book of Doctrines and Discipline. It is widely expected this new General Conference will take place sometime next fall. The assembly also authorized the formation of ministry task forces to help the new denomination hit the ground running: Accountable Discipleship, Church multiplication, Church revitalization, Global mission partnerships, Missional ministry in the margins and Ministry with Young people and young adults. These task forces are to “identify best practices, discern God’s call, and connect and resource local churches in ministry as we move into a new season of effective outreach to our neighbors globally.” New members to the Global council were elected. The trust and confidence level was so high that business concluded a full three hours early.  In the closing communion service, Rev Jill Jackson Sears of the North Texas Annual Conference reminded the delegates of the words of Jesus to his disciples, “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32) and to press ahead to the prize of our upward calling in Christ Jesus. submitted by Tom Anderson

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