A Big Week for United Methodists

Some days, it is just good to be Methodist. This Friday will be one of those days.

In my (admittedly narrow) world, this is a big week. About 1,700 pastors and assorted others will gather in Chicago this Friday for the inaugural gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. This group has been in formation for about a year. Other groups preceded it but failed to gain momentum. The WCA seems to be the right response at the right time and it has gathered steam quickly since the announcement of its existence in mid-summer.

What most excites me about the WCA is that the leadership seems genuinely to be what it is — a diverse group of people transparently seeking a strong Spirit-infused movement within the Methodist tradition. I am part of that movement but I come to this rather late in the game. Many in the room have been working toward UMC renewal for years. I was mostly looking for a door out until General Conference this year convinced me I should be doing otherwise.

I like that our process has been thoughtful, prayerful and theological. We have not allowed ourselves to be “blown about by winds of doctrine,” nor have we succumbed to rash emotion. Our tenor in conversation has been gracious but firm; our by-laws are the product of much deliberation among pastors, theologians and elders in the UMC. Our singular purpose is the emergence of a more vibrant, warm-hearted, global, biblically-rooted Methodism that honors God and the traditions of the centuries.

Mostly, we want to see our denomination go someplace spiritually because if it doesn’t, what would make us any different than any other non-profit? I hear echoes of Moses’ question to the Lord in Exodus 33: “Is it not in your going with us … that we are distinct from all the other people on earth?”

Indeed, unless God is with us, none of this will matter. If he is, then what happens on Friday may well be history-making. Some have wanted a more solid prediction of just how all this will unfold as we go forward. The answer with the most integrity is: we don’t know. It would be unwise to prescribe a future with so many variables in play. This group hasn’t even met yet; we sure don’t want to get ahead of God by making predictions prematurely. Think of this as a more organic, less political process.

And of course, no one can predict what will happen with the Commission on a Way Forward but waiting for that group to convene is the right thing to do. We are grateful to hear that the appointments are being made to that group and a plan is in motion for them to begin deliberating. Praise God for progress. While we wait, the WCA will provide a voice and a place to land for faithful United Methodists. Friday’s gathering will be the beginning, and those who attend will help to shape its future.

What we know now is this: this is not a gathering of politicians, warriors or angry protestors.  This is a groundswell of genuine concern for the direction our church is taking. It is a strong but grace-filled response to the call of General Conference to think together about our best way forward. All of us who call ourselves Methodist should be praying this week that Friday’s gathering honors the very best in the Church of Jesus Christ.

I’m proud of those who are making this step together. It represents strength and leadership. In fact, I would say this gathering represents the best face of  Wesleyan orthodoxy. This Wesleyan Covenant is the kind of religion James talked about — faith married to action. It is a passion for serving others without letting the world get the best of us. It is about doing ministry and doing it better and doing it in ways that highlight our brand of theology, because that’s what we have to offer the Body of Christ.

Carolyn Moore

I follow Jesus within the communities of Mosaic Church, Asbury Seminary and the Moore household.

6 thoughts on “A Big Week for United Methodists

  1. I will be in prayer for this gathering of like minded Christian thought. I do not stand in that belief, but I have great hope for the future of the Methodist church because of this movement.

    Instead of fighting or pretending this is something else, let’s call this what it is: the split in the movement over the issues of LGBTQ persons sacred worth. I have no creed but Christ, who calls me to love above all, so I will, even in my defiance of a discipline all pastors pick and choose how to follow, like prooftexting the scriptures. Love be yours and May the WCA move swiftly so that change may happen sooner rather than later in order that the UMC I love and the congregation that I serve, would be able to see what full inclusion looks like within my lifetime. So that we would not treat people as second class citizens, denying love or equality, but rather as children of God with sacred worth equal to anyone else’s. So that when I look into the eyes of my brothers and sisters who are not heterosexual I will be able to say, “you are welcome here, and belong here, and will not be treated like you have been treated by the world, but how Christ would have us treat you!”

    Blessings dear friends on this journey of following your convictions, so that my convictions also may be made manifest. Go in peace and have fun in Chicago!

  2. “We have not allowed ourselves to be “blown about by winds of doctrine…” This is exactly what has happened; the decision made in Portland in July to call an openly gay bishop in direct contradiction to the BOD is precisely this. Those of us who have “waited for many years for our church to abide by its Book of Discipline” evidently have a long wait yet.
    This, I am saying, as a long time Methodist and a retired UMC Pastor who has, in utter frustration, left the denomination.

  3. Carolyn,
    I am a MDiv student at ATS and enjoyed your talk so much last week.
    I only wish I could have gone to the conference this weekend in Chicago!
    Represent well for us, and thank you for being an obedient follower of Christ.

  4. I would love to see this group give some direction to the women. For many years the UMW has become more and more liberal (for lack of a better word). Perhaps at the upcoming conference in Orlando this could be addressed. I plan to attend that conference.

  5. I have been waiting for many years for our church to abide by its Book of Discipline. Many of my friends have tired of the lsck of action by our Bishops and left the Methodist denomination.

    1. “I have been waiting for many years for our church to abide by its Book of Discipline.” I assume by your statement that you mean you are waiting for our church to abide by certain parts of the BOD.

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