Over 160 delegates representing 42 regional chapters are set to meet for the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s first Global Legislative Assembly, November 2, 2019 at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia.
“This is certainly a very important milestone for us,” said the Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway, WCA Council Chairman and senior pastor at Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. “Both the number of regional chapters that have already formed and the many delegates planning to attend our first assembly are indicative of how fast our movement has grown in just two short years.”
The 28-member WCA Council, the group that inaugurated and has guided the association for its first two years, has placed five resolutions before the delegates. How the body handles three of them will be closely watched.
One resolution calls on the delegates to authorize the creation a 16-member working group to “envision a revitalized Methodist movement within and/or outside the UM Church” based on the results of the denomination’s special General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. The resolution would also empower the WCA Council, if it deemed necessary, to “convene a conference of a new Methodist movement to be held within sixty (60) days of the adjournment” of the UM Church’s special conference.
The resolution is closely connected to another that asks the WCA delegates to endorse “Fundamental Features and Principles of a New Methodist Denomination.” Should the WCA Council deem it necessary to convene a conference, the resolution and the recommendations of the 16-member working group would guide the convening conference in its deliberations.
“I can’t say for sure how the WCA legislative assembly delegates will handle these resolutions,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the WCA. “However, I can say with confidence that these delegates are faithful, talented leaders who will debate and vote on these issues with the gravity they deserve. They are representing thousands of others, and it’s definitely their time to weigh-in on the important matters before all of us.”
Another resolution invites the delegates to make official WCA pronouncements on the much-discussed plans coming before the UM Church’s special General Conference. All of the plans are attempts to more or less resolve a long-running debate over the church’s sexual ethics, teachings on marriage, and its ordination standards.
The resolution would have the WCA delegates support the Traditional Plan, an approach that calls on the General Conference to reaffirm the church’s teachings on the debated matters, creates generous exit pathways for local churches and annual conferences that cannot reaffirm them, and enhances accountability standards for all who decide to remain in the UM Church.
The resolution also calls on the WCA delegates to support a generous exit pathway that would encourage the General Conference “to approve a gracious and equitable process for congregations and institutions desiring to exit the UM Church with all their property and assets following the adjournment of the special [conference].”
“I’m confident the delegates will support this resolution,” said the Rev. Dr. Carolyn Moore, the WCA Council’s vice-Chairwoman and senior pastor at Mosaic UM Church in Evans, Georgia. “The WCA Council and our staff have not been shy in our support for the Traditional Plan and a generous exit path; we hope the WCA delegates will do the same. To have such a large representative body take such a stand is very important given the uncertainty in the wider church.”
The delegates are a mix of laity and clergy from WCA regional chapters that have formed across the U.S., most within the past year. Nine international delegates, representing Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, will also be present.
“Some regional chapters are helping our delegates with travel and lodging expenses, but most delegates are paying all or some of their expenses,” said Boyette. “Their willingness to invest their own personal resources is a testament to their dedication and their desire to create a healthy and vital Methodist movement within or beyond the UM Church. They’re all UM pastors and laity who already give sacrificially to mission and ministry within their own local churches. Clearly, they’re a highly motivated group of leaders!”
Some seating to observe the proceedings of the legislative assembly will be open on a first-come first-serve basis. The assembly will meet the day before the WCA’s Third Global Gathering, also to be held at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church and broadcast to over 100 simulcast sites across the U.S. The theme for this year’s gathering is Unashamed!Register to attend at the host site or a simulcast site click HERE.