By Keith Boyette
March 12, 2021
The announcement of news of the Global Methodist Church has filled many theologically conservative United Methodists with hope for the future. The United Methodist Church, beset by decades-long conflict, continues to wrestle with how it will navigate the stormy waters following its deeply divisive 2019 special General Conference, its institutional dysfunction, and the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presents. The Global Methodist Church provides new possibilities for a vibrant, vital church, deeply grounded in Scripture, the core teachings of the Christian faith, and our warm-hearted Wesleyan distinctives.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association is grateful for the opportunity to have partnered with leading theologically conservative Methodists in developing the mission, vision, and structure for the Global Methodist Church. Joining leaders of the Confessing Movement, Good News, UMAction, theologically conservative bishops from Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States, and other leaders in the church, the WCA celebrates the good work that has been accomplished in planning for a new, global Methodist movement.
The WCA continues to provide key leadership and resources for the Global Methodist Church. The foundation for the Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline was the WCA’s draft Book of Doctrines and Discipline. The task forces created by the WCA have provided a rich reservoir of knowledge, wisdom, and innovation offered to the Global Methodist Church to resource its formation and development. Also, it was the WCA, together with the Confessing Movement and Bishop Scott Jones, that convened the gathering of 30 theologically conservative leaders in Atlanta, Georgia, in March 2020. That meeting resulted in a unified vision and leadership team tasked with giving shape to the Global Methodist Church. Funding for this effort has come exclusively from the WCA and it has committed to continue its financial support until the new church officially comes into existence. To that end, the WCA has launched the Next Methodism Fund to support the critical work that must be done in a transitional period.
The WCA will continue to work closely with its allies and the Transitional Leadership Council of the Global Methodist Church to ensure that the mission, vision, and commitments of the Global Methodist Church are developed and pursued in this preparatory season. We will continue to empower those who are committed to being part of the Global Methodist Church to help shape its ministries and core values through service on a number of task forces that will develop proposals for the Global Methodist Church. We will continue to press for innovative ways to address the deployment of clergy that will enhance local church involvement in that process. We will envision ways to streamline the structure of governance in the Global Methodist Church to ensure enhanced participation by the laity of the church. We will focus on those areas of ministry which we believe must be the priorities of the Global Methodist Church, including ministry with marginalized communities, ministry with youth and young adults, global missional partnerships, transformative discipleship, and church multiplication and revitalization. We will develop leaders who have a commitment to ensuring that each local church is fully invested in the mission to make disciples who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly. And all the while, we will continue to press the UM Church to live into the expectations embodied in the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.
The Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline will govern the new church from when it is legally formed and begins to operate through the 12-to-18-month period preceding the Global Methodist Church’s convening General Conference. As its name underscores, the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline is transitional – not permanent. It is designed to shepherd churches and clergy through the process of aligning with the Global Methodist Church. The duly elected delegates to the Global Methodist Church’s convening General Conference will make changes to the document. They will rightfully determine the shape of the new church’s Book of Doctrines and Discipline. The WCA and the Transitional Leadership Council long for that day, and trust that the work they have done will facilitate the work of that convening conference.
While we are disappointed the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a further postponement of the UM Church’s General Conference, there is much for us to focus on in the interim. The WCA will continue to support local churches, laity, and clergy in discerning their way through this season. For those who want to be part of the Global Methodist Church, we will provide counsel and resources to help them in their efforts to align with it as the new denomination is legally formed and begins to operate.
Keith Boyette is president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and chairperson of the Transitional Leadership Council of the Global Methodist Church (in formation). He is an elder in the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church.