“I’m a seminary student nearing graduation and I’d like to serve in the new global Methodist church; will it recognize the courses I have taken in church history, doctrine and polity? “Will retired UM clergy be allowed to transfer their clergy membership into the new church?” “Will there be a ‘trust clause’ in the new church?” “What if our pastor retires during the transitional period? Will there be leaders to help us find a new one?” “We need youth leaders in Africa. Will the new church help us find and train them?” “Are there resources available to help local church leaders understand how they should introduce the subject of separation in the UM Church and making a transition to a new church?”
These were just some of the many questions that rolled in during the WCA’s new Viewpoint program livestreamed on September 23. WCA President Keith Boyette answered as many questions as possible in the first edition of the one hour program. (The program was recorded so those who missed it or those would like to refer back to it can watch it by going to Facebook and YouTube.)
“We appreciated all the positive feedback we received to the first episode, and we certainly understand why people have a lot of questions in light of the UM Church’s forthcoming separation and the ensuing transition period to a new global Methodist church,” said Boyette. “The program was a reminder that people want information so they can help their local churches prepare for what’s next. We know we’ll need to regularly revisit the many issues being raised. So whether it’s a seminary student, a military chaplain, or the chairwoman of a local church’s board of trustees, we want to do our best to provide answers or at least point people in the right direction for finding one.”
The WCA has committed to helping its members and friends navigate their way through the next two years. During that period people will increasingly learn more about the UM Church’s 2021 General Conference scheduled for August 29 through September 7 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At that gathering 862 delegates representing annual conferences in Africa, Europe and Eurasia, the Philippines, and the U.S. will vote on the implementing legislation for the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. The Protocol calls for the amicable separation of the church and it has been endorsed by leading UM bishops, many delegates to the General Conference, and advocacy groups representing centrists, progressives, and traditionalists.
Should the Protocol’s implementing legislation be adopted, and many believe it will be, the WCA and its partners will announce the formation of a new denomination, and a period of transition will ensue. According to the terms of the Protocol, local churches would be allowed to immediately begin the transitional process for joining a new global Methodist church, and annual and centrals conferences could begin scheduling meetings where they could vote to join the new denomination.
“While the process of moving from the UM Church to a new church is fairly straightforward, local churches, conferences, clergy, students, and many others will want to fully familiarize themselves with that process,” said Boyette. “And in some cases, congregations will have to help their members understand why they must make a decision, whether that decision be an active or a passive one.”
To that end the WCA has collected together links to eight key Outlook articles and four of its Holy Conversation podcasts. The articles are short and include links to critical information regarding separation and transition issues. The podcasts are hour long conversations that cover the origins and purpose of the WCA, core beliefs and standards for a new church, and how to prepare for a time of separation and a period of transition.
The WCA encourages people to read and widely share with others the following articles:
- Key Bishops and Advocacy Group Leaders Propose Plan of Separation
- Why a Mediated Negotiation?
- Global UM Leaders Reimagine a New Methodist Movement
- Where Do We Go From Here?
- Transitioning to a New Church . . . in God’s Time
- Preparation for Launch
- A Sure Hope for a Faithful Future
- For the Sake of Your Local Church
It also recommends local church leaders listen to the following Holy Conversations podcasts:
- Where Things Stand with the UMC and the WCA
- Distinctives of a New Traditional Methodist Church
- Preparing for What’s Next
- Bonus Episode: Our First Mailbag with Keith Boyette!
Finally, the WCA encourages its friends and members to download its WCA App through the App store associated with their smartphones, familiarize themselves with our website, and tune into future WCA Viewpoint programs including those scheduled for October 21 and December 3, both at 4 p.m. ET