Four Marks of the Next Methodism

Let’s face it: no one really knows what is going to happen at The United Methodist Church’s called General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. Division? Restructuring? Fragmentation? Slow demise? Despite widespread conjecture and one or two wild conspiracy theories, your guess is as good as mine. The Wesleyan movement, however, is much […]

Going Forward with Scripture

“Given the current challenges directed to the unique place of the Bible in the church, we affirm that the core of the Christian faith is revealed in Scripture as “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3; NRSV). We look to the Bible therefore as our authority and trustworthy guide, which […]

The Long and Winding Road to St. Louis

Will February 26, 2019 ever arrive? Yes, in due course, and God will still be sovereign over His creation and His church will still be a prevailing church. We can hope that The United Methodist Church will still be counted as a faithful part of the church universal. Much yet must occur before we will […]

Wesleyan Covenant Association Accredited by National Financial Accountability Organization

The ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) announced today the accreditation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association of Reynoldsburg, OH. ECFA accreditation is based on the ECFA Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, including financial accountability, transparency, sound board governance and ethical fundraising. The Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) joins a growing number of Christ-centered churches and ministries across America, supported […]

Seeking Higher Ground: Conversations in the UMC

As conversations around the future of the UM Church heat up in this annual conference season, I hold a prayer that we will elevate our discourse above the level of emotion. Here are a few things I’d like to hear in discussions around what comes next: Let’s talk Christologically. Does the conversation about the future of […]

The Dis-United Methodist Church: Growth, Conflict, and the Uncertain Way Forward

Last week, we reviewed the formation of the United Methodist Church in 1968 and the struggle ever since its creation to shape a coherent identity – to answer the basic question: who are we? We looked at the tone and direction of two theological statements, in 1972 and 1988, and described the growing divide between traditionalists and progressives […]

The Dis-United Methodist Church and The Quest for Unity

Editor’s Note It is easy for those who have been around The United Methodist Church for years to assume everyone knows how we have come to our current impasse. However, despite declining membership and worship attendance in the U.S., there are still plenty of growing congregations with new people joining every day. Many of these […]

Judicial Council Rules Against Council of Bishops, Allows All United Methodists to Submit Petitions

Earlier today The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council (its “Supreme Court”) issued an 8-1 decision repudiating the Council of Bishops’ argument that only its preferred option for a way forward could be presented to the special General Conference scheduled for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. In a recent meeting the majority of the Council of […]

Have the Talk

Preparing for the Days Ahead The United Methodist Church remains in a time of uncertainty, and yet the picture is coming into sharper focus. The Commission on a Way Forward has finished its work. The majority of the Council of Bishops (COB) has determined it will recommend a previously failed “local option” plan to the […]

Council of Bishops Attempts to Clarify Confusion It Created

A Statement from the Wesleyan Covenant Association The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops (COB) released a statement today trying to clear up the confusion it created with the release of a prior statement and a variety of interpretations of it that came from a number of bishops. According to the latest statement it appears the only plan a […]

Being Open to the Spirit of God: Wesley’s Theology of the Means of Grace

Although John Wesley was highly critical of Augustine for his denial that perfection was possible in this life and for his doctrines of the irresistibility of grace and predestination, nevertheless, he and Augustine shared two related theological commitments: the corruption of human nature due to sin and the absolute dependence on grace for righteousness. During […]

Just Say No to Local Church Options for the UMC

Annual conferences are just around the corner all over the U.S. and there will be petitions submitted to annual conferences suggesting something along the lines of a local church option when it comes to defining what counts as Christian marriage, what counts as proper sexual morality, what counts as moral fitness for ordination. It is […]

Sanctification: Life Shaped by Grace

One of the great benefits of living in California is the easy access to the great outdoors and especially some of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States. My family particularly enjoys Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Parks. As we’ve spent time in each of them the past eight years we’ve been astounded […]

A Message from the WCA

Meeting in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, the Wesleyan Covenant Association Council approved the following statement: The Wesleyan Covenant Association Council is very grateful a significant minority of The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops insisted on the inclusion of a traditionalist plan for the called General Conference’s consideration in St. Louis, Missouri, February […]

Justification: A Free Gift of Grace

“To anyone who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”  Romans 4:5 In a world full of increasingly clever scams, we have learned to be wary of any opportunity that appears too good to be true. Most of us would rather error on the side of […]

Convincing Grace: the Grace of Repentance

When Jesus Christ came preaching into the Galilee, he made clear that there was a precondition to our entrance into his kingdom. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” Jesus said, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, ESV). He announced the urgency and nearness of the kingdom, and […]

The 19 Questions

Wesley’s historic questions have been asked of those considered for full connection (ordination) since as early as 1784, the first Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, presided over by Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke. The questions also have a broader Wesleyan context. Many of these questions were originally used with the people Wesley called “Helpers,” […]

Reflection on Prevenient Grace

Some years ago, I had lunch with a pastor who was an outspoken Calvinist. After I prayed over the meal, he said, “You know, we Calvinists have a saying: everyone is a Calvinist on his knees; asking God to convict, to covert – to do it all!”  I said, “You have a point. But aren’t […]

What Petitions Can Be Received by the Special 2019 General Conference?

The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops has requested a declaratory decision from the church’s Judicial Council (its “Supreme Court”) on the question of what petitions can be submitted to the special, called General Conference meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. The question raised by the request is time sensitive. Petitions for the […]

A Very Good Question

Given the long and acrimonious debate over The United Methodist Church’s sexual ethics, fundamental differences regarding the authority of the Bible and its interpretation, and now over a viable way forward for the denomination, Revs. Rob Renfroe and Walter Fenton ask in a new book: Are We Really Better Together? Just published, the book is part […]

Grace

Christians in the Wesleyan tradition love to talk about grace, and with good reason. God’s grace is another way of talking about God’s love, love that can overcome anything, including the many ways in which we humans rebel against our creator. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “God, who is rich in mercy, out […]

Council of Bishops Asks Judicial Council for Key Ruling

The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops has asked the denomination’s Judicial Council (its “Supreme Court”) for a ruling on what petitions can be submitted to the special, called General Conference scheduled to meet in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. Some bishops have argued that the only proposal that can be presented in advance […]

Confidence for the Future

A Message from the Wesleyan Covenant Association “We’re an evangelical, orthodox congregation in an annual conference that leans progressive. We’re growing so fast that we desperately need to expand our physical plant. We have the funds on hand to put a shovel in the ground right now, but we’re reluctant to move forward given all […]

Harvesting Fruit from Easter

This year was a very different Holy Week and Easter for me. For the first time since 1995, I was not serving a local church and preaching at multiple services. Although disorienting, I found the change had its benefits – wonderful time to worship God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, special time spent with […]

Fully Alive

“I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” Perspective matters. We have been sold a bill of goods. Secular culture regards death as an end point.  You are born, you live and then you die. The world tells us the most important things happen in the space […]

Kevin Watson, Assistant Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, raises important questions about the One Church Model being advanced by the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. Contextualization, The One Church Model, and The #UMC By Kevin Watson […]

So Now What?

As United Methodists, we are methodical. We are a people bound together by order and discipline. We benefit from one of the fairest systems of church government that exists. Any United Methodist can petition our church’s supreme legislative body, the General Conference, to change our church’s order and discipline. Our church is global. Our General […]

One Baptism for the Forgiveness of Sins

After coming to personal faith in Christ as a 19-year old, I remember talking to my old junior high band director who was also a pastor. I shared my excitement about my new-found faith, and asked if I should be baptized again, since I had only been baptized an infant, and wasn’t sure that it […]

Living Separate and Apart

In this third of four articles addressing efforts by The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops (COB) to resolve our denomination’s irreconcilable differences, we examine the final option still under study by the church’s leadership — the “Multi-Branch, One Church Model.”  The multi-branch approach is an attempt to permit United Methodists to sort themselves out […]

One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

The most diverse gathering of people I have ever encountered participated in a Bible study program in Paris. We came from six continents, claimed many different primary languages and were almost as many skin colors. We came from a global variety of Protestant denominations and Roman Catholic churches. We had economic statuses that ranged from […]

Should We Each Do What Is Right In Our Own Eyes

The first article in this series addressed the present state of The United Methodist Church. Internal and irreconcilable differences, particularly in the U.S., have sapped the church’s energies leading to declining membership and worship attendance. The rate of decline is only accelerating. Well over half of the approximately 32,000 local UM churches in the U.S. average less […]

A Moment In Time

The moment of decision is drawing closer for The United Methodist Church. For many months, we have awaited the plan(s) the Council of Bishops (the “COB”) will recommend to the special called General Conference to resolve the irreconcilable differences that divide the UM Church. Our Book of Discipline has been clear about our sexual ethics, definition of […]

The Holy Spirit is Lord

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.” The Nicene Creed contains the most controversial words in all of Christendom. The gradual acceptance of the phrase “and the […]

Our Judge & His Kingdom

I went to college at two United Methodist institutions. As a Christ-follower, I attended the weekly Sunday morning worship service in the chapel and was involved in various on-campus ministries. I was also exposed to the religious studies faculty and pre-ministry students as I took my liberal arts requirements. During those four years, I was […]

He Rose Again

Years ago my husband was leading a Sunday School class when one of the regular attenders spoke up and said, “I believe all the stuff in the Bible except that one thing about the Resurrection. A guy coming back to life after three days is just too much for me.” My mouth literally fell open; […]

“Church Sees Record Giving” and the Rest of the Story

Given a recent headline United Methodists could be forgiven for assuming the UM Church’s financial position is not just on solid ground, but that it has been setting records the past several years. A January 31 United Methodist News Service (UMNS) article was headlined “For 4th year, church sees record giving.” The “record giving” has nothing […]

Crucified, Suffered, and Buried

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. When you read the Nicene Creed slowly, almost devotionally, it can be jarring to move from those soaring lines about Jesus as Lord, eternally begotten, light from light, one Being with the Father, creator, and incarnate by the power of […]

The Beauty of the Incarnation

“For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” How can the God who created the heavens and the earth become a part of his creation? That question speaks directly into the heart of the […]

Uniting Methodists Caucus Advocates For Unity Petitions that Will Bring Disunity

At its inaugural 2016 gathering over 1,800 attendees affirmed the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s “Chicago Statement.” It called on the Council of Bishops to “bring forth a recommendation that would definitively resolve our debate over The United Methodist Church’s sexual ethics and its understanding of marriage.” It stated the best way forward was to adopt a […]

Women As Christian Leaders, Preachers & Teachers

Recently, John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, responded on his weekly podcast, desiringGod, to a question submitted by a listener: “Should women be hired as seminary professors?”  Piper, a complementarian, holds that males and females complement each other in their different roles and duties in both the home and the church. In the church, he […]