Wesleyan Covenant Association Statement On Judicial Council Decision Involving Bishop Karen Oliveto
Statement from the WCA Council on the Mississippi Congregations
Purposes and Beliefs
What We Believe
Chicago Statement to the Bishops’
WCA Press Release
An Open Letter to the People of the United Methodist Church
- Wesleyan Covenant Association Statement on the Withdrawal of the Orchard from the United Methodist Church
The Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and The Orchard have announced that negotiations have been concluded between them, resulting in the withdrawal of The Orchard from The United Methodist Church. The Orchard is one of the 25 fastest growing churches in the United States. Dr. Bryan Collier is the senior pastor of The Orchard and a member of the governing council of the Wesleyan Covenant Association.
At a recent meeting, the WCA Council affirmed Dr. Collier’s continued service as a member of the Council and the Orchard’s continued membership in the WCA.
Some have raised a question about whether Dr. Collier’s continued service on the WCA Council is consistent with the WCA’s emphasis on covenant-keeping within The United Methodist Church, and our deeply-held conviction that promises – especially those made at ordination – must be kept. We believe that it is, and that our remaining connected to Dr. Collier and the Orchard is a sign of the hope we have for the future of the global Wesleyan movement.
From its founding, the WCA has made it clear that membership in the WCA is open to churches, clergy, and laity who share our vision, and desire to cooperate in mission from (as our by-laws put it) “within The United Methodist Church and kindred bodies.” There are many such kindred bodies around the world.
We pray that the current impasse within the United Methodist Church will be resolved, and that it will move forward as a revitalized, orthodox, Wesleyan movement. We are committed to being part of a global movement which will reconnect in creative ways with congregations, denominations, and national churches that are also spiritual descendants of John and Charles Wesley. If that occurs within a United Methodist Church which adheres to its established doctrine and discipline, we rejoice.
We continue to affirm and advocate that the best course of action for local churches at this juncture is to maintain their connection with The United Methodist Church while awaiting the outcome of the Bishops’ Commission and the called General Conference in 2019.
We respect the integrity of those who choose to remain within the United Methodist Church and work for renewal and renewed accountability. We also respect the conscience of those who believe they must seek an honorable exit.
The Orchard’s ongoing connection with the WCA affirms their desire to be part of a connection with others seeking a revitalized, orthodox, Wesleyan global movement accountable to its doctrine and discipline. Our member congregations discern the course best for themselves in their local context. The Orchard did not consult with the WCA Council in making its decisions. And yet The Orchard has committed as a member of the WCA to be accountable to its Statements on Biblical Authority, of Faith and of Moral Principles.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association also believes that the actions of Dr. Collier and the Orchard have honored our United Methodist covenant. We have long advocated that those progressive clergy and churches that believe they can no longer in good conscience continue to live under the framework of our United Methodist doctrine and discipline be allowed to exit gracefully and with integrity – a process that is allowed under our Book of Discipline. Dr. Collier and the Orchard have sought to be faithful to what their conscience demands by engaging in open and honest discussions with their episcopal leadership.
This stands in stark contrast to those clergy, churches, and annual conferences that have declared their unwillingness to abide by their covenantal promises to uphold our doctrine and discipline, yet who insist on remaining within The United Methodist Church and retaining all the rights and benefits that came with those promises. This defiance of the teachings and order of our church is what stands at the heart of the current crisis facing United Methodism.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association stands as an alliance to advance vibrant, scriptural Christianity. We are building relationships in local chapters and around the world to refocus on John Wesley’s vision of spreading scriptural holiness throughout the land.
It is our conviction that God is opening a new chapter in the history of the Methodist movement globally, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association desires to retain, as much as possible, bonds of love and cooperation with all who share a commitment to “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 1:3). Whatever the future holds, we know that we want to face it together. The Wesleyan Covenant Association is committed to being a landing place for persons and congregations who desire to be part of a global expression of vibrant, orthodox, Wesleyan Christianity as we live into what is next.
- Wesleyan Covenant Association Statement On Judicial Council Decision Involving Bishop Karen Oliveto
The decision by the Judicial Council in the matter involving Bishop Karen Oliveto has made some key rulings which provide clarity on important issues facing The United Methodist Church, with respect to our church’s doctrine on human sexuality and the election of our bishops. At the same time, the Council has sought to preserve the fair process rights of all of our clergy including our bishops. We commend the Council for clear statements which will now govern the conduct of our episcopal leaders. The recent decision by the Judicial Council has the practical effect, however, of retaining Karen Oliveto as a bishop of The United Methodist Church for now.
Bishops, while elected regionally, are episcopal leaders of the whole Church. They are avowed to uphold the doctrine and discipline of our global Connection. The authority of a bishop who so flagrantly defies the will of the church as expressed through General Conference will not be respected by a large segment of our denomination, and rightly so.
There can be no unity without a shared commitment throughout our Connection to abide by a common set of doctrines, standards and rules. And there can be no sustainable future for The United Methodist Church, as currently structured, without accountability for all our clergy, including our episcopal leaders. We fear that this decision of the Council will prompt many more individual members and churches to withhold funds or to seek an exit from our denomination. The Council’s ruling adds to the growing list of bodies that have not taken action that they could have taken to restore integrity to our covenant.
We call upon the Western Jurisdiction to accept and implement the decision of the Council, including promptly processing any and all complaints pending or that will be filed against Bishop Oliveto.
We further call upon those who feel they cannot, in good conscience, abide by the doctrines and discipline of our church, to seek an honorable exit from our denomination.
The entire burden is now squarely on the shoulders of the Bishop’s Commission on a Way Forward and our next General Conference.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association calls upon faithful United Methodist churches and members to unite with us and to remain steadfast in the ongoing struggle for the integrity of our Church during this transitional period. We ask all United Methodists to pray for the Bishops’ Commission on a Way Forward; for the proposed special session of General Conference in 2019; and above all, for our beloved United Methodist Church, that God may deliver it from its current crisis, and lead us all into a faithful and fruitful future.
We further invite those who are committed to a high view of Scripture, Wesleyan vitality, orthodox theology and Holy Spirit empowerment to join with us as we continue to contend for the faith entrusted to us by the apostles. We are committed to working for a connection of churches and individuals passionately committed to introducing people to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and helping them become His fully devoted followers; to advancing the Kingdom of God; and to fostering lives transformed by God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that this mission is enhanced when we work together for our common purposes as the uncertain future of The United Methodist Church comes into clearer focus. We can accomplish far more together than would be accomplished by each church and individual believer going it alone. Therefore, if your heart is as our heart, we invite you to join us in this journey at this crucial time.
- Statement from the WCA Council on the Mississippi Congregations
Yesterday Bishop James Swanson issued a statement indicating that two congregations in the Mississippi Annual Conference are actively re-evaluating their relationship with The United Methodist Church. We understand that the members of both congregations voted overwhelmingly to move toward exiting our church.
The Orchard UMC in Tupelo and Getwell Road UMC in Southaven are two highly vital congregations. According to the General Council on Finance and Administration, Getwell Road has grown steadily over the past twenty-five years from an attendance of 221 to 804. Nearly 500 people have professed faith in Jesus Christ at Getwell Road since 2005 under the ministry of the Rev. Bill Beavers. Led by Dr. Bryan Collier, The Orchard UMC has grown in attendance from 315 to 2711 over the past fifteen years. This vibrant congregation can often be found on the annual list of the fasting growing UM congregations and is currently the fifteenth largest congregation in United Methodism by attendance.
We are deeply saddened that the collective dysfunction of our connection is causing fruitful congregations to question their place in United Methodism. We share their frustration over wavering leadership, weak resolve, and open rebellion to our doctrine and discipline. The structures designed to enable the ministry of the local church have too often become a hindrance to the work of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As these congregations testify, the continuing conflict in our church harms our witness for Christ. But change is coming.
Just to be clear, the actions of the two congregations were taken independently, without consultation with the Wesleyan Covenant Association Council, and are the actions of those congregations alone. We continue to believe that those of us committed to the historic doctrine and discipline of The United Methodist Church are better off acting together and in connection with each other. The Commission on a Way Forward is meeting to bring recommendations to a proposed called General Conference in 2019. While the commission’s ability to find a solution with integrity is difficult, we believe that this process offers the best option for preserving the ministry and integrity of conscience for traditional and orthodox United Methodists. The protracted timetable, while not ideal, provides an opportunity for like-minded United Methodists to organize for a new future.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association stands as an alliance to advance vibrant, scriptural Christianity. We are building relationships in local chapters and around the world to refocus on John Wesley’s vision of spreading scriptural holiness throughout the land. Whatever the future holds, we know that we want to face it together. The Wesleyan Covenant Association is committed to being a landing place for persons and congregations who desire to be part of a global expression of vibrant, orthodox, Wesleyan Christianity as we live into what’s next.
The WCA Council commits to pray for Bishop Swanson, the Mississippi Conference Cabinet, and the pastors and people of each of these congregations, and we ask the rest of the church to join us. The days ahead will try us all. We call upon the entire church to walk faithfully and in love.
- Purposes and Beliefs
Purposes and Beliefs
(Updated, December 30, 2016)
The following sections are quoted from the WCA bylaws and were presented for affirmation at the October 7 WCA Launch Event.
Purposes. The Wesleyan Covenant Association (“WCA”) is an association of congregations, clergy persons, and laity who desire to cooperate in the mission of the WCA to promote the ministry of the gospel from a Wesleyan theological perspective within The United Methodist Church and kindred bodies. The WCA is organized exclusively for religious purposes. The purposes for which the WCA is formed include, but are not limited to:
A. To promote the worship of the Holy Trinity, to preach the pure Word of God, to uphold the rich tradition of sacramental practice, to maintain Christian fellowship, to foster the edification of believers, and to welcome and advance the work of the Kingdom of God on earth.
B. To be obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ’s command to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I [Jesus] have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
C. To support disciples of Jesus Christ by proclaiming the good news of salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and by exemplifying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, by any suitable method or media, which includes but is not limited to the following:
1. Connecting local churches who worship Jesus Christ, by using personal evangelism, television and radio, the Internet, conventions, preaching, teaching, missions and other Christian methods;
2. Assisting and furthering the proclamation of Scriptural Christianity through printed and digital material, by providing speakers, mentoring, or coaching, and by other instructional and educational programs which may be deemed necessary or convenient in effecting the above purposes; and
3. Establishing new programs of outreach and ministry, and the strengthening and partnering with existing programs and organizations that have a similar purpose and dedication to presenting Christ as Savior and Lord.
D. To explore and promote the full ministry of the good and life-giving Holy Spirit throughout the life and work of the church, not least in the entire sanctification of Christian disciples.
E. To guide the ministries of the WCA within the boundaries of the statement of faith, using accountability processes for congregations, clergy, and lay members as shall be promulgated by the WCA.
F. To engage in spiritual work and services based upon the authority of the Holy Bible.
- What We Believe
Revised December 30, 2016
Statement on Biblical Authority
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 “is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16; NRSV). Illuminated by tradition, reason, and experience, the revelation of Scripture is the church’s primary and final authority on all matters of faith and practice.
Statement of Faith
We affirm classical Wesleyan doctrine and the historic faith, which the church has used to define the parameters of Christian teaching. Doctrine, properly understood, unifies the church and gives direction to its life. All congregational, clergy, and lay members of the WCA affirm the following Doctrinal Standards:
- The Nicene Creed (AD 381) –
- The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church (AD 1808) –
- The Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (AD 1963) –
- The Standard Sermons of John Wesley –
- The Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament by John Wesley (1755) –
- The General Rules of The Methodist Church (1868) –
Statement of Moral Principles
Given our current time and context, we highlight and affirm the following moral principles, acknowledging that other moral principles merit our further attention.
Scripture teaches that men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God. Accordingly, the church should treat women and men equally. We believe that both women and men are called to and gifted for ordained and licensed ministry, and both genders are able to hold any role of leadership within the WCA.
We believe that all persons are of sacred worth. Therefore, we gladly welcome all who seek to grow in their relationship with God to attend worship services and participate in the church’s ministries. No person shall be disqualified from becoming a member of a local congregation, holding a leadership position in the church, or becoming an ordained or licensed clergy based on race, color, nationality, national origin, marital status, or economic condition. The WCA specifically renounces all racial and ethnic discrimination and commits itself to work toward full racial and ethnic equality in the church and in society.
Marriage and Sexuality
We believe marriage and sexual intimacy are good gifts from God. In keeping with Christian teaching through the ages and throughout the Church universal, we believe that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union. We believe that God intends faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness.
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual or group are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of the WCA.
- Chicago Statement to the Bishops’
The Following statement was approved at the WCA Launch Event on October 7, 2016. It was endorsed by the body, but will not be individually endorsable.
Chicago Statement to the Bishops’
Commission on A Way Forward
The Wesleyan Covenant Association
Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday, October 7, 2016, over 1,700 people affirmed and approved the creation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association.The association is a coalition of congregations, clergy, and laity from across The United Methodist.
The association is a coalition of congregations, clergy, and laity from across The United Methodist Church, committed to promoting ministry that combines a high view of Scripture, Wesleyan vitality, orthodox theology, and Holy Spirit empowerment. We have come together to support, network, and encourage one another as the uncertain future of The United Methodist Church comes into clearer focus. We have heard from many concerned United Methodists who believe that the church’s current situation is untenable. Some of our members are leaving their local churches or suspending their giving. Some local churches are suspending or redirecting the payment of apportionments, while other congregations are preparing to leave the denomination. Therefore, we call upon the Council of Bishops to:
- Swiftly name the members of the commission and expedite their gathering to begin working together, and
- Approve the call for a special General Conference in early 2018 to enable resolution of the conflict that divides us before further harm is done to United Methodist members, congregations, conferences, and ministries.
As faithful United Methodists, we will fervently pray for the bishops’ Commission on A Way Forward. And while we patiently wait for it to complete its work, we call upon its members to:
- Work deliberately and expeditiously as it prepares a recommendation for a called General Conference scheduled for early 2018;
- Regularly update the people of the church regarding its progress, or lack thereof, and,
- Bring forth a recommendation that would definitively resolve our debate over The United Methodist Church’s sexual ethics and its understanding of marriage.
We deeply regret the acts of covenant breaking that have accelerated in frequency and in seriousness since the 2016 General Conference. Therefore, we join with the Southeastern College of Bishops in viewing such actions as “divisive and disruptive.”
- The proposed “pause for prayer and discernment” from the Council of Bishops that was adopted by the General Conference has been ignored by many progressives, leaving us to wonder if we have good faith partners who are willing to work toward a common future for The United Methodist Church.
- Despite the pledge of the Council of Bishops to uphold and enforce the Book of Discipline, some bishops are now routinely settling complaints against clergy who violate the Discipline with no consequences. This gives us reason to believe they will continue to break faith with the general church, despite what the special commission proposes.
- At least nine boards of ordained ministry or annual conferences and two jurisdictional conferences have pledged not to conform or comply with the requirements of the Discipline. Despite some rulings nullifying those actions, we have no confidence that a covenant that depends upon voluntary compliance can hold in the face of such defiance.
- The election of a person in a same-sex marriage to the office of bishop, in blatant contradiction to the requirements of the Discipline, has undermined the very structure of our global church to the point that its future survival is in question.
We believe it is imperative for the commission to propose a plan that calls for accountability and integrity to our covenant, and restores the good order of our church’s polity. If the commission determines no such a plan is possible, then we believe it should prepare a plan of separation that honors the consciences of all the people of the church and allows them to go forward in peace and good will. A plan that requires traditionalists to compromise their principles and understanding of Scripture, including any form of the “local option” around ordination and marriage, will not be acceptable to the members of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, stands little chance of passing General Conference, would not definitively resolve our conflict, and would, in fact, lead to the fracturing of the church.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association wants what is best for United Methodist laity and clergy, and we are convinced a speedy resolution of our present crisis is now essential and imperative for the church’s future viability.
May God bless our bishops as they select the members of the commission, and may He lead and guide those who are chosen for this important task.
- WCA Press Release
Wesleyan Covenant initiative launched
August 4, 2016
The newly launched Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) is a membership-driven initiative to link congregations, clergy persons, and laity to “promote the ministry of the gospel from a Wesleyan theological perspective within The United Methodist Church and kindred bodies,” according to bylaws adopted by nearly 50 United Methodist leaders gathering in Houston on August 1 and 2.
“We are a movement of like-minded, warm-hearted, Jesus loving, Wesleyan, evangelical, orthodox, and covenant-keeping Christians who are connected together in mission,” said the Dr. Jeff Greenway, lead pastor of Reynoldsburg (Ohio) United Methodist Church.
The group gathered to adopt bylaws and nominate a first slate of Council members that will be elected at their initial public gathering on October 7 in Chicago at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Information on the Chicago event can be found online at WesleyanCovenant.org.
“Our meeting was both serious and hopeful,” said Dr. David Watson, academic dean at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. “We prayed together, broke bread, shared ideas, agreed and disagreed, and learned from each other. We affirmed together that we are not another caucus group, but a community established for mutual encouragement, resourcing, and accountability. We simply want to embody Wesleyan holiness in a way that is already articulated in United Methodism’s Doctrinal Standards, but is often set aside in actual practice.”
In addition to Watson, other prominent United Methodist theologians in the group included Dr. Billy Abraham of Perkins School of Theology in Dallas and Dr. Bill Arnold of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. There were clergy and laity representatives from all five jurisdictions in the denomination, including from embattled annual conferences such as Rocky Mountain, New York, and Iowa.
“As a young orthodox United Methodist, I am excited about the creation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association as a coalition committed to the authority of God’s Holy Word, our Wesleyan heritage, and Holy Spirit empowered revival,” said the Rev. Madeline Carrasco Henners, pastor of Luling (Texas) First United Methodist Church. “We know that many pastors in many progressive annual conferences feel isolated from their fellow orthodox brothers and sisters. This alliance will help them have their voices heard in matters affecting the unity of the global church.”
Morning devotional messages were brought by the Revs. Ryan Barnett, Kerrville (Texas) United Methodist Church, and Carolyn Moore, senior pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church in Evans, Georgia. The concluding service of holy communion was conducted by Henners and the Rev. Jessica LaGrone, dean of the chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary.
The group established that one of its main purposes was to “promote the worship of the Holy Trinity, to preach the pure Word of God, to uphold the rich tradition of sacramental practice, to maintain Christian fellowship, to foster the edification of believers, and to welcome and advance the work of the Kingdom of God on earth.”
“During this time of so much uncertainty in United Methodism, the Wesleyan Covenant Association is bringing a fresh voice of hope, strength, and encouragement to those seeking traditional Biblical values,” said Jennifer Cowart, executive pastor at Harvest Church in Warner Robbins, Georgia.
“The United Methodist Church has a rich heritage of reaching people for Christ and helping them grow into mature disciples. However, we now find ourselves at a crossroads of what the future holds for our tribe. The WCA provides a network of like minded laity and clergy who cherish biblical traditional values.”
An erroneous report on the online version of Charisma magazine claimed that the WCA was ready to create a new denomination.Charisma issued a second story to correct their faulty reporting. Furthermore, Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, inappropriately blamed the formation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association as having “opened deep wounds and fissures within The United Methodist Church and fanned fears of schism.”
Leaders at the event agreed that both cases of severe mischaracterization should be retracted and corrected.
“Some have jumped to the conclusion that the formation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association is an effort to force schism and start a new denomination,” said Greenway. “I can understand why some might say that because these are confusing times and many forces are at play in the United Methodist family trying to shape what is to come. I can say unequivocally that we are not creating or starting an effort to leave our denomination, but we are developing an association of churches and leaders who are committed to live and practice what we say we believe.”
Those in attendance at the meeting want to be active in responding to the upcoming Council of Bishops commission that will bring proposals to shape the future of The United Methodist Church.
“We do not know what that will be, but we do believe that change is coming,” said Greenway. “As we live into what comes next, the WCA is committed to preserving the core of what we believe and practice as United Methodists. We are not leading a separation, but we are committed to being faithful to our convictions.”
The commitment to faithfulness in uncertain times was a shared sentiment at the gathering. “Christianity was born in a hostile culture. We were born in the Roman empire, that tried to destroy Christianity. And so it’s not the culture that’s going to determine who we are, it’s our faith,” said the Rev. Kenneth Levingston, senior pastor of Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston. “It’s whether or not we’re willing to stand up in the culture and love it and still call it to live in a faithful way and manner with Jesus Christ.”
– Wesleyan Covenant Association. In order to receive updates about the WCA, sign up for alerts by going to https://www.wesleyancovenant.org/contact-us
United Methodists form Wesleyan Covenant Association
“In these times of great uncertainty about the future of The United Methodist Church, we believe it is important for orthodox congregations, clergy, and laity to work together, to support one another, and to encourage each other,” said a group of 40 United Methodist pastors, theologians, and lay persons in a statement that announces the creation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA). “We long for a church committed to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the last, the least, and the lost.”
“The Wesleyan Covenant Association represents the very best of our warm-hearted theology and action-oriented spirituality, and will provide support, encouragement, and resourcing for like-minded and like-hearted United Methodists,” said the Rev. Jeff Greenway, lead pastor of Reynoldsburg (Ohio) United Methodist Church. “During these turbulent times in our denomination, I find this association to be a source of encouragement and hope.”
The WCA is being launched as a member-based network of United Methodist congregations, clergy, and laity to provide “the encouragement we need to stay committed to our rich heritage while standing firm on the non-negotiables that make The United Methodist Church a vital contributor to the Body of Christ,” said the Rev. Carolyn Moore, senior pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church in Evans, Georgia.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association (wesleyancovenant.org) will be gathering in Chicago for a one-day conference to promote its goals and welcome new members on October 7, 2016.
“My fervent prayer is that we will be able to share our witness in ways that will impact the Bishop’s Commission on the Future of the Church positively and contribute to the advance of God’s Kingdom among the people called Methodists globally,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, pastor of Wilderness Community UM Church in Spotsylvania, Virginia. “Those who choose to participate in this great endeavor will be better positioned I believe to embrace a fruitful future regardless of what ultimately occurs within The United Methodist Church.”
“As a young orthodox United Methodist, I am excited about the creation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association as a coalition committed to the authority of God’s Holy Word, our Wesleyan heritage, and Holy Spirit empowered revival,” said the Rev. Madeline Carrasco Henners, pastor of Luling (Texas) First United Methodist Church. “We know that many pastors in many progressive annual conferences feel isolated from their fellow orthodox brothers and sisters. This alliance will help them have their voices heard in matters affecting the unity of the Global Church.”
“Clergy and laity across the nation are rightly concerned about the state of The United Methodist Church in the United States,” observed the Rev. Jim Cowart, pastor of Harvest UM Church in Byron, Georgia. “Although blessed with sound doctrine, a history of personal and social holiness, and a rich heritage, the church seems to have lost its way in the 21st century. The Wesleyan Covenant Association provides us with a wonderful opportunity to gather around the best of what we are with those who are of like commitment to work toward making disciples for the transformation of the world.”
“Christianity was born in a hostile culture. We were born in the Roman empire, that tried to destroy Christianity. And so it’s not the culture that’s going to determine who we are, it’s our faith,” said the Rev. Kenneth Levingston, senior pastor of Jones Memorial UM Church in Houston. “It’s whether or not we’re willing to stand up in the culture and love it and still call it to live in a faithful way and a faithful manner with Jesus Christ.”
- An Open Letter to the People of the United Methodist Church
June 30, 2016
An Open Letter to the People of The United Methodist Church:
As clergy and lay leaders of healthy, vibrant orthodox United Methodist congregations, and as teachers preparing the future clergy leaders of our denomination, we welcome the creation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. In these times of great uncertainty about the future of The United Methodist Church, we believe it is important for orthodox congregations, clergy, and laity to work together, to support one another, and to encourage each other. We long for a church committed to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the last, the least and the lost.
Committed to the Wesleyan expression of orthodox Christianity, we believe the church can and must do better. We are alarmed by the growing loss in average worship attendance in many of our annual conferences. We regret the now numerous instances where colleagues in ministry have broken covenant with the rest of the church and sowed the seeds of schism. We are grieved by the actions of annual conferences that have decided not to conform to our Discipline. And we are disappointed in leaders who have failed to maintain the good order of the church. Consequently, the work of faithful pastors and laity has been undermined, healthy congregations have left the denomination, and thousands of United Methodists have gone in search of other places to worship and serve.
We believe the Wesleyan Covenant Association will give orthodox United Methodists hope for the future and serve as a source of encouragement as the church works through a critical period of discernment. We want to serve in close partnership with our brothers and sisters in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. And we want to be prepared to act as one in light of the important work and recommendations of the Bishops’ Commission on the Future of the Church. We encourage all orthodox clergy and laity to remain steadfast and faithful in these uncertain times. We believe the Wesleyan Covenant Association will bind us together and make us a strong, united witness for Scriptural Christianity.
We believe that God is “doing a new thing.” We believe a new and better day is coming for the people called Methodist who are committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, and the church’s being a missional force determined to reach a lost culture. We yearn to step into this new future together with others of like minds and hearts.
Please visit the Wesleyan Covenant Association website (www.wesleyancovenant.org) to learn more about it. We also hope you will plan to join us in Chicago on October 7, 2016, for the first gathering of the association.
We are confident you will be hearing more about the association in the weeks and months ahead, and we trust you will join us as we band together for the sake of a vibrant, Wesleyan expression of orthodox Christianity.
Perkins School of Theology
Asbury Theological Seminary
Kerrville First UMC
Wilderness Community UMC
Frazer Memorial UMC
Luling First UMC
Asbury Theological Seminary
Mount Bethel UMC
The Orchard UMC
Dalton & Tomich
The Woodlands, Texas
Crystal Lake UMC
Crystal Lake, Illinois
International Leadership Institute
International Leadership Institute
The Woodlands, Texas
Powder Springs, Georgia
Hickory, North Carolina
Asbury Theological Seminary
The Woodlands, TX
Grace Fellowship UMC
Jones Memorial UMC
Indiana Annual Conference
The Confessing Movement
Marion First UMC
San Augustine, Texas
Mt Bethel UMC
The Woodlands UMC
The Woodlands, Texas
The Woodlands UMC
The Woodlands, Texas
Winterville, North Carolina
West Ohio Annual Conference
Lake Waynoka, Ohio
Springdale First UMC
United Theological Seminary
The Mission Society
Church names provided only for identification purposes.