Statement of the Wesleyan Covenant Association Council on Next Steps

February 28, 2019

The Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) is thankful The United Methodist Church has reaffirmed its sexual ethics, teachings on marriage and its ordination standards for clergy at the historic special General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. By reaffirming its teachings the denomination remains aligned with the church universal in all times and all places. The UM Church is unique among Protestant churches because it is a truly globally connected church. Within a matter of years, more United Methodists will live outside the U.S. Its fastest growing faith communities are now found in Africa, the Philippines, and parts of Eurasia, where there is clear commitment to the historic teachings and practices of the church universal.

We recognize that persons of divergent positions have been harmed by the acrimonious and bitter debate exhibited at the recent special General Conference. As Christians, we are called to exhibit grace and to speak the truth in love. We are committed to conversations and actions that affirm the sacred worth and love of all people regardless of their perspective in our church’s decades-old debate.

To that end, we remain open to good faith conversations about the future of the church. We recognize irreconcilable differences exist, not just about human sexuality, but also around our understanding of the authority and interpretation of Scripture, and the nature of the church. While we remain deeply committed to its historic teachings on these matters, we are open to true Christian conferencing in an attempt to resolve our impasse in fair and equitable ways.

From its inception, the WCA has been unwavering in its commitment to restore the good order and missional effectiveness of the UM Church. Our work will continue unabated as we address factors that have contributed to dysfunction and ineffectiveness. We are committed to working with other United Methodists to achieve that end at the next General Conference in 2020, including a gracious exit provision. And should circumstances warrant, we remain prepared to launch a new Methodist movement.

While we work for renewal and revitalization in the church, the debate cannot continue forever. For too long, some of our leaders have tolerated and even enabled conduct that has hindered our effectiveness. Many faithful pastors and lay persons are so frustrated with the state of the general church they are prepared to exit the denomination. Some local churches have already withdrawn, and others will do so for conscience sake and the fruitfulness of their ministries. The WCA is committed to facilitating a network for such churches to advance the historic Christian faith in the Wesleyan tradition.

The WCA supports a vital and vibrant Wesleyan witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We long for a renewed UM Church, while we resource those who have been called to a new path in sharing that witness.