Meeting in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, the Wesleyan Covenant Association Council approved the following statement:
The Wesleyan Covenant Association Council is very grateful a significant minority of The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops insisted on the inclusion of a traditionalist plan for the called General Conference’s consideration in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. As soon as possible we encourage the council to share all three of the plans it is forwarding to the General Conference. It is important for the wider church to have a healthy and extended conversation about them well before the General Conference delegates attempt to definitively resolve our church’s long debate over its sexual ethics, teachings on marriage, and ordination standards.
We are also thankful the Commission on a Way Forward included a gracious exit path in all three of the plans it presented to the Council of Bishops. We trust such a path will be part of the final proposals the Council of Bishops presents to the General Conference. If not, we encourage the General Conference delegates to make sure such a path is a part of whatever proposal they ultimately approve.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association Council sincerely thanks all the members and moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward. We appreciate their sacrificial service and their gifts of time, study, prayer, and thoughtfulness. The Commission on a Way Forward was given a daunting task, and therefore we are not surprised it forwarded three different proposals to the Council of Bishops. We offer the commission members our sincere gratitude for creating and proposing plans for resolving our differences.
We also thank the Council of Bishops for their prayerful and thoughtful engagement with the Commission on a Way Forward’s proposals. We are not surprised the council ultimately decided to forward all three of the commission’s proposals to the called General Conference. We understand a majority of the council is recommending the adoption of a “local option” plan that would liberalize our sexual ethics, teachings on marriage, and ordination standards. Therefore, we are particularly grateful a significant and important minority of the council insisted on the inclusion of a traditionalist model. We thank all the bishops for their work and pray for them as they continue to lead the church.
Since its inception the Wesleyan Covenant Association has stood for the life giving doctrines and teachings of The United Methodist Church. Despite a time of crisis and deep uncertainty, the association has encouraged pastors, laity, and local churches to remain united and to prayerfully and patiently await the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops, and ultimately the called General Conference.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association is a fast growing movement of like-minded clergy, laity, and local churches committed to a warm-hearted, Wesleyan expression of the Christian faith. It longs for unity, but not at the expense of the core teachings of our faith, and the good order and integrity of the church.
At its inception the Wesleyan Covenant Association clearly stated in its Chicago Statement that: “A plan that requires traditionalists to compromise their principles and understanding of Scripture, including any form of the ‘local option’ around ordination and marriage, will not be acceptable to the members of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, stands little chance of passing General Conference, would not definitively resolve our conflict, and would, in fact, lead to the fracturing of the church.”
The Wesleyan Covenant Association remains encouraged about the future and remains staunchly committed to an orthodox expression of our historic Wesleyan witness. We will continue to pray and work for the health and vitality of the church, and we are confident a strong, spirit-filled, Wesleyan expression of the Christian faith will shape the next Methodism.