By Walter Fenton
June 25, 2021
Delegates from around the world participated in an online virtual meeting on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, to conclude the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s Third Global Legislative Assembly.
“We had an intense and productive day [April 30, 2021] when we met at Frazer Church in Montgomery, Alabama, several weeks ago,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, the WCA’s President. “But we simply ran out of time, so we needed to reconvene to complete our ambitious agenda.”
During a one hour meeting the assembly delegates heard reports from two task force leaders who respectively addressed ministry with marginalized peoples and global ministry partnerships.
The Rev. Erik Grayson, pastor-in-charge at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina, called on the delegates to endorse a resolution including six recommendations from the WCA’s Ministry with Marginalize Peoples Task Force.
“As we lean into the Global Methodist Church, we need to challenge ourselves to fulfill the mission Jesus called us to,” said Grayson. “To genuinely live into that mission the task force calls us to be intentional in our planning and serious about holding ourselves accountable to the example Christ set for us.”
Among the six recommendations, the task force calls on local churches to seek candid outside evaluations of their efforts to minister with the poor, the homeless, and people struggling with addictions.
“It’s not good enough for local churches to just assume they’re effectively fulfilling the mission to marginalized peoples,” said Grayson. “The task force calls on local churches to periodically survey community stake holders in their cities and towns for their assessment of a local church’s missional effectiveness. We might not always like what we learn from these surveys, but if we’re humble enough to listen, we’ll find ways to do ministry better with people Jesus called us to serve.”
The delegates overwhelming endorsed the task group’s resolution and recommendations based on the report of the task force.
Noting that over 6,000 people groups around the world have no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Rev. Paul Lawler, lead-pastor at Christ Church in Birmingham, Alabama, asked the delegates to endorse a resolution including four recommendations from the WCA’s Global Missional Partnerships Task Force. The resolution was based on the Global Missional Partnerships Task Force report.
Lawler shared with the delegates that the WCA has already initiated a pilot project developing intentional missional partnerships among local churches across geographic boundaries.
“Our intention is to move into a new day, moving from a top-down, hierarchal approach to missions to a more flattened, grassroots approach where every local church is empowered to partner with other local churches around the world to share the gospel,” said Lawler.
Lawler added that the task force calls on identifying global mission agencies that are Wesleyan, evangelical, and orthodox, and that have proven track records of helping local churches effectively share the gospel in various parts of the world. The intention is to connect Global Methodist Church local congregations to these organizations in order to foster deep and abiding partnership with sister congregations around the world. In turn, the developing partnerships will work together to share the gospel with the over two billion people who have never heard it or seen it in action.
Lawler also said theologically conservative Methodists in America are increasingly aware that the approach of the U.S. primarily sending missionaries and others parts the world receiving them is a dated model.
“Missionaries are coming from all over and going everywhere,” he said. “Koreans are going to Africa, Africans are going to America and Eurasia, Filipinos are going to the Middle East, and South Americans are going to Pacific Island countries. As a global church, we must encourage and foster these relationships if our goal is to share the gospel with all humankind. No one group or nation can do it alone; we need each other to fulfill the great commission!”
By a near unanimous vote, the delegates endorsed the resolution and recommendations.
Both of the resolutions presented by Grayson and Lawler charge the WCA’s staff to advocate in support of the recommendations, and to encourage the convening General Conference of the Global Methodist Church to implement them as soon as possible.
“I am very thankful to all the Global Legislative Assembly delegates who took time out of their busy schedules to complete the important work we had before us,” said Boyette. “And I’m particularly grateful to people in Africa, Eurasia and the Philippines who joined our meeting late in the evening or early in the morning. Our delegates once again demonstrated how committed they are to creating a healthy and vibrant church that is focused on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed!”
The Rev. Walter Fenton is Vice President for Strategic Engagement for the Wesleyan Covenant Association and is an elder in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.