West Ohio Wesleyan Covenant Association
A global pandemic has thwarted the meeting of General Conference and delayed the implementation of the avenue for amicable separation anticipated through the Protocol. As we wait, anxiously and expectantly, two different questions are expressed with increasing urgency: Why Wait --- Why Not Exit Now?
Why Put Our Congregation through the Pain of Deciding?
This week we address question one.
Why Wait --- Why Not Exit NOW?
In this time of delay, my own encouragement is, “Wait!” Here are four reasons.
1. Apostolic Accountability in a Time of Independence and Institutional Distrust Vibrant Christians need the authentic accountability to other Christians beyond themselves; healthy congregations need authentic accountability to a body of Christians beyond their own congregation. This pattern is evident in the New Testament. Apostolic authority provides accountability to individuals and local congregations of believers. Fourteen years after his conversion Paul presented his understanding of the Gospel to the acknowledged leaders in Jerusalem “in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.” (Galatians 2:2) Paul, Peter and other apostles exercised apostolic authority with grace through their letters and visits to churches in various locations.
The Nicene Creed declares the church is “one holy catholic and apostolic church.” Apostolic teaching about the Gospel defines the church. Apostolic mission motivates the church to fulfill the Great Commission. Genuine Apostolic leaders oversee the church with wisdom and grace, protect the church against error, and serve as a sign to every believer and congregation that we are part of one holy catholic church. Although many traditionalists have lamented the failure of some episcopal leaders within United Methodism, we must be careful not to throw out the baby (apostolic accountability) with the bathwater (particular failures). We are in one structure of accountability. Let’s remain faithful here until we can be connected to new apostolic accountability within a new global Methodist denomination.
2. Building New Together
The WCA was formed in part to stand as a bulwark against the splintering of more traditional United Methodists of in a variety of directions. But the vision of the WCA is much greater. It is a vision of individuals and congregations who share a common understanding of our Wesleyan doctrine joining together to become a vibrant, faithful, growing church for this 21st century and beyond. This new expression of Methodism will worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; make disciples of Jesus Christ and live faithfully as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. Leaders of the WCA joined last March with a broader coalition of orthodox United Methodist leaders to form a Transitional Council, which is laying the foundations for this exciting new Wesleyan and Methodist denomination.
What an incredible opportunity to be led by the Holy Spirit as we work together to build something new together to the honor and glory of our heavenly Father and for the furtherance of the Gospel. Now is not the time for congregations to grow weary and splinter each in their individual directions. Now is a time to wait, pray, and join in the work of preparing for the birth of a new Global Wesleyan and Methodist Church.
3. Stewarding Spiritual and Financial Strength for Mission and Ministry
Leaving the United Methodist Church now will in almost all cases be financially costly and spiritually draining. Almost all congregations that have “negotiated” exit have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to their annual conferences. This in addition to underwriting their genuinely fair share of pension liabilities accrued over many years, attorney’s fees, court costs and more. That does not count the spiritual and emotional drain of going through such a process. These are financial costs and spiritual energies which could better be spent in mission and ministry.
The Protocol is designed to avoid most of these costs. Congregations will be permitted to take their buildings and assets with them without penalty. Pension liabilities will be born not alone but by the new denomination collectively, leaving in place pension and other programs which have served the church well. A time will come, sooner than later, when a new denomination will be born, whether in context of the Protocol or not. But a diplomatic and negotiated solution arrived at by fair-minded persons is to be preferred to one that results in legal battles or exorbitant costs. Separating as a large group to a new community of believing congregations will maximize the opportunity and resources for the opportunities before us.
4. Displaying the “Patience of the Saints” Waiting for God’s Time
The Hebrews waited four hundred years for deliverance from the oppression of the Egyptians. The captives from Judea waited seventy years to escape exile in Babylon. Then the world waited over four hundred years for the Jesus to come. Jesus’ disciples waited until Pentecost for the coming of the Holy Spirit. We still await the return of our Lord.
Yet, God uses our waiting as preparation for the blessing sure to come from the Lord. Now is a time of waiting, praying, allowing God to prepare us for what we can see on the horizon --- a new community, a renewed church, a renewed Wesleyan movement for the glory of God.
Rev. Greg Stover
WOWCA Board Member
Please know that any text in blue are links to the information source or greater detail. Also, we ask that you share, comment and like any and all posts to continue to help spread the word. We find that most UMC members know little to nothing about the current and future of the UMC. Please decide now to be heard before it is too late! Join the Wesleyan Covenant Association NOW! EOWCA values your comments and support. Thank you!