November 13, 2018
After acting on five major legislative initiatives, the first Global Legislative Assembly concluded with worship and celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway, senior pastor of Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and chair of the Wesleyan Covenant Association Council, delivered an inspiring message, “Leading Out of Rubble.”
“Here we are – knee deep in an ecclesial mess,” Greenway observed, “and what is needed is dependence upon God and resilient leadership to move us into the future – with a renewed Wesleyan/Methodist movement.” Greenway found inspiration for such leadership in the story of Nehemiah, the Old Testament leader who rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, whose story, he asserted, “might provide a roadmap for us in these schismatic and destructive times.”
Nehemiah’s journey to completion of his mission began in the ruins of a defeated city. Nehemiah did five things, Greenway noted, that provide guidance for us as leaders in similar circumstances. Nehemiah, first, did an assessment, inspecting the extent of damage and developing a plan. “For the last two years, the WCA Council has been assessing the reality of the denominational rubble we find ourselves in,” Greenway declared, and determining what “needs to be done to build the foundation of what a next or renewed Methodism should like.” This process has culminated in the election of the Next Steps Working Group.
Second, Nehemiah invited everyone to participate. Greenway urged, “It is time for us to diligently and deliberately invite participation, helping [others] understand the state of the church and the rubble we are standing in.” Importantly, Greenway declared that in this season, the direction ahead is “not to go back and relive the past – the answer is not to wallow in the present – the answer is to rebuild and push through to the future.”
Third, Nehemiah teaches us to anticipate opposition when we decide to do attempt to “do something great for God – to rebuild a denomination – to repair a broken covenant – to renew a Wesleyan/Methodist movement – to reclaim the rich theological foundation of our tradition.” Greenway noted that Nehemiah did not “allow opposition or attack to be a distraction.”
Fourth, Nehemiah trusted God and stayed the course. Finally, Nehemiah led the people in acts of repentance as they addressed the rubble. Greenway led the gathered delegates in a concluding time of repentance expressing his concern that “we may get so caught up in doing what is right that we will ignore what is wrong. We could win every vote and get everything we want but that will not fix what has us sick unto death.”
The complete text of Greenway’s closing address to the Global Legislative Assembly may be read here.