Author: Mainstream UMC
The North Alabama chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) has released a letter detailing the larger groups’ plans for a new church. They have “formed a team working on a potential ‘Next Methodism’” and have tentatively set their convening conference for their new denomination for April 25-26, 2019. Further, they “urge pastors and churches to participate in the convening conference if necessary and to take steps to withdraw in concert with one another. The WCA will be providing counsel throughout this period and will provide steps for churches and pastors to follow in transition from the UM church to what is next if that is needed.”
This letter shows 1) If the One Church Plan passes, they are leaving. 2) If the Traditional Plan passes without further “accountability measures,” they are leaving. 3) Which means if nothing passes, they are leaving. 4) Even if their preferred Modified Traditional Plan passes, “there still may be churches that are intent on departing” and “the WCA will work with those churches to transition into a new Methodist movement.” They are clearly leaving no matter what. They currently have pastors on their board from churches that have already left the UMC.
The reality is that the UMC is not facing “schism” so much as “splinter” from one well organized group. Since the WCA has a vision for ministry and has expressed the desire to leave for several years, it would be more credible if they simply negotiated with the church the terms of their departure. Their splinter group could make plans to leave without dragging the entire United Methodist Church through this drama at General Conference. They could go do ministry in the world without pushing to reorganize a church they seek to leave behind.
Instead, they continue to lobby for “exit” provisions which impact the whole church with potentially catastrophic implications for our Trust Clause and Pensions. Their “Modified Traditional Plan” gives them $200,000 of our reserve apportionment money to each of their annual conferences to leave. A sum that all the remaining churches must repay within the next four years. Further, their President, Rev. Keith Boyette sent a petition to the 2019 General Conference calling for the dissolution of the denomination. All of these proposals undermine the global ministry of the UMC for everyone else. We should not codify the WCA’s departure in the Book of Discipline.
Most importantly, we should not let one splinter group set the agenda for General Conference, much less the future of the entire United Methodist Church. Our families, our local churches, and our denomination have disagreed on a whole host of issues through the years. But we agree that we want to maintain the global unity of our church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The One Church Plan is the calm, rational choice for the future of the United Methodist Church. Please pray that the Delegates of the 2019 General Conference can tune out the noise from those on their way out and embrace the graceful way forward our leaders have prepared for those of us who are intent on staying.
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WCA Letter of Departure: https://mainstreamumc.com/additional-data/wca-departure-plans/
Wespath FAQ about Pensions: https://www.wespath.org/WayForwardWespathFAQ/
Modified Traditional Plan: https://goodnewsmag.org/2018/10/upgrading-the-traditional-plan/
Keith Boyette’s Plan for Dissolution of the UMC: https://mainstreamumc.com/documents/GC2019AdvanceDailyChristianAdvocate/196-236-Other51Petitions.pdf