The Connectional Conference Plan

This is the third of three articles briefly describing and analyzing the various plans that are slated to come before the special, called General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. Readers wanting to read the official reports, plans, and enabling legislation can click HERE. See Exhibit B, pages 34 through 81 of the whole […]

The Traditional Plan

This is the second of three articles briefly describing and analyzing the various plans that are slated to come before the special, called General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. Readers wanting to read the official reports, plans, and enabling legislation can click HERE. See Exhibit C, pages 82 through 130 of the whole […]

THE Issue Facing American United Methodism

I begin with a one-question quiz.  It is multiple choice. In 25 years the typical American United Methodist of today will be: A. A registered Democrat B. Living in Sun City, Arizona C. Dead The correct answer is “C.” In 25 years demographics and median age declares the average United Methodist living today in the […]

The One Church Plan

In the coming days we will briefly describe and analyze the various plans that are slated to come before the special, called General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. Readers wanting to read the official reports, plans, and enabling legislation can click HERE. The One Church Plan (OCP) is predicated on two straightforward assumptions. […]

E Unam Pluribus

At the risk of being misunderstood, I’m pretty close to being done. Not with Jesus, or even with His church, mind you. And please don’t think that I’m either deeply depressed or unduly discouraged about the prospects of God’s Kingdom in this world, for in the words of Handel’s Messiah, I’m more than certain that “He shall reign […]

When Unity At All Cost Is Too Costly

“When is unity at all cost too costly?” This question is not intended as an endorsement for dividing The United Methodist Church. However, in the following, I want to at least make the argument that separation is not always the improper thing to do. I write this after hearing many colleagues from every theological stripe say, “I am not […]

FAQs, Number 2: The State of The United Methodist Church

Over the past several weeks a number of important developments have occurred in the UM Church, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association has received a number of questions regarding them. This is the second issue of Outlook attempting to help WCA members navigate the latest news. You can see our first FAQs by clicking HERE. Earlier this year, the […]

Choices Abound!

In a recent article, I shared about The Long and Winding Road to St. Louis. Well, we have now journeyed further along that road. A lot is happening and we want to keep you informed. As required, petitions for the special General Conference, which will meet in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019, were filed by July 8. […]

FAQs – The State of The United Methodist Church

Over the past several weeks a number of important developments have occurred in the UM Church. The Wesleyan Covenant Association has received a number of questions regarding them. With this issue of Outlook we are beginning a running FAQ post to help people navigate the latest news. We will archive all FAQs on our website so people can return […]

Who Do You Say That I Am?

The question reverberates down through the ages. When Jesus first asked, “Who do you say that I am?” he directed it to those who knew him best – disciples who had walked with him for an extended period of time – who had seen him in public and private moments. The disciples’ answers are intriguing, […]

Commission on Way Forward’s Report Not Released

The July 8 deadline for the filing of petitions to be considered at the 2019 special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church has now passed. The petition deadline passed without the release of the anticipated report of the Commission on a Way Forward (COWF) or any update from the Council of […]

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 […]


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 […]