Joyce is a retired teacher and enjoys sharing lesson plans, resources, and teaching tips on Teacher Spark. She is also passionate about teaching and loves using her writing to help teachers, parents, and students.
We live in an age where people feel depressed, stressed at work and at home, anxious, and unhappy. There are documentaries exploring why we live in a society that is overweight, sick and unhappy. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and other mood enhancers are now being prescribed more than ever before – with a long, often dangerous list of side effects and the possibility of addiction.
If you’re looking to improve your mental, emotional and physical well-being, there are other options for you besides prescription medication. Recent studies have shown something that the churches have known for centuries: a strong spiritual faith can do wonders for your body, mind and soul.
In recent years, scientific studies have actually shown that there is a link between faith and good health. In 2015, Duke University announced that studies have shown the power of prayer in preventing illness, sickness and disease. Even when people do get sick, prayer can promote faster recovery and healing. Best of all, these scientific results are not just limited to one single study. Medical research from multiple leading journals and universities across the United States has shown the same thing: believing in a higher power is good for you. Your faith and your prayers can actually heal the body, make you happier, and possibly even help you live longer.
One of the ways prayer helps us is by reducing our stress and anxiety levels. When we “give it to God” or “let go and let God” we are releasing our need to stress, fret and worry about our current situation. Letting go of stress in this way has obvious mental and emotional health benefits, like improved mental health. Of course, it also benefits our physical bodies because high stress and anxiety levels have been linked to autoimmune disorders, weakened immune system, fatigue, and a variety of other stress-related health conditions.
Stress, anxiety and depression have all been linked to obesity. Therefore, if your goal this year is to lose weight, prayer might actually help.
Some studies have even linked psychological stress to cancer so by letting go of stress, you might reduce your chances of developing this devastating disease, and you could possibly even improve your overall health and longevity.
In addition to the health benefits listed above, individuals who have a devout religious or spiritual practice have been scientifically shown to have strengthened immune systems, lower blood pressure, and possibly even healthier cardiovascular functioning than those who don’t pray on a regular basis.
To enjoy all of the benefits of prayer, and to bolster your health and happiness, look to other areas of your life where you can encourage uplift and reduce stress For example, your home should be the respite you need from the stressors of daily life. Consider adding elements or creating spaces that promote health and healing. Add some plants, or invest in soothing artwork, reorganize your space, or even add an area that’s specifically designated for prayer and meditation.
The power of prayer is a time-tested method that has been used for centuries. It doesn’t require any pills and it doesn’t cost us a penny. There are zero side effects and you don’t need an appointment with your doctor; you can pray at your convenience, anytime, day or night, from anywhere – including the comfort of your own home. Try incorporating more prayer into your life. You’ll reconnect with God, with yourself, and you might even notice some happy benefits for your body, mind and soul.
“…Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…” Exodus 14:13-14, NIV
On March 1st, we heard the joyful announcement about the mission and vision for the new “Global Methodist Church.” How awesome God is!!! He knows what He is doing. We can trust Him…yes, indeed, we can trust Him!!
“18.Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past. 19.See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland….21.the people I formed myself that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isaiah 43:18-21, NIV)
Yes, we see the new thing the Lord is doing: new name, new logo, new leadership and new website for this new church…The Global Methodist Church! Would you please join us in thanking God for the diligent work and the many sacrifices of the WCA Global Council and the Transitional Leadership Council? Let us praise the Lord for the new thing He is doing!! This is the sweetness of the Lord for us, and we anticipate more sweetness on the way.
The Lion of Judah is roaring over the United Methodist Church! We hear His voice as He speaks with all authority in the heavens and on the earth.
“As watchmen on the wall, we must be alert to all that we will see or hear….If He is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, then we also become lions on the earth. As His voice roars through the heavens, our voices must roar on the earth.” (Karen Phillips, Western PA IIPN)
We are calling lions from all around the world who will boldly roar with us over the United Methodist Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Way-Maker. When He roared the Red Sea parted and the army of Pharaoh was destroyed. We hear His voice louder and louder: “Let My people go!” We are calling intercessors who will boldly stand with us and roar. Let us release the roars!!
Since physical gathering is not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will gather on-line through ZOOM Video Conferencing with Live Streaming through the WCA IIPN YouTube channel.
We invite you to join us:
Date: Sunday, March 28, 2021
Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (USA)
Let us worship our Lord Jesus Christ together. You can join through the WCA IIPN YouTube channel:
The WCA-VA Chapter has made three presentations to churches in recent weeks regarding the proposed Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation and the resulting new denomination. Other churches are planning presentations. If you would like to speak with us about such a presentation to your Council or church, we would be more than pleased to talk with you. Please contact Tom Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The idea for this informational event started here in Mississippi and expanded to include 13 Annual Conferences across the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Join us March 1! It’s free. Registration is not required. Please share and invite others to join us. All are welcome.
Celebrate the foreword thinking of the WCA Council and leadership! Many task forces are considering a whole host of practical, essential and theological matters necessary for founding a dynamic, new, global, conservative denomination.
The following is a summary of WCA President Keith Boyette’s report on a sundry of WCA matters and news of interest to you and your churches:
Global Gathering – Saturday May 1, 2021 – In Person at Frazer UMC, Montgomery, Alabama
Global Assembly Meets – Friday April 30
Look for information re: Global Gathering mid-February
Sign up immediately if you plan to attend. Limit is 500 persons.
Frazer is following health protocols for safe practices.
Release of new denominational name, logo, and Transitional Leadership Council members in late February
Commitment to passing Protocol remains as strong as ever.
If your church is interested in streaming the Global Gathering on May 1, please contact Tom Thomas: email@example.com
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.” Psalm 34:15
What a wonderful promise! The WCA is establishing prayer groups in each state to bring together like minded brothers and sisters to undergird the vision, work, and preparation for the WCA and a new denomination
As Prayer Coordinator for WCA-VA, we extend an invitation to any who have a desire to serve the LORD and pray for the WCA to please join our Virginia prayer team. Beginning Sunday, January 24th at 4:00 pm, we will meet to pray “virtually” on one Sunday afternoon a month for the needs of our church, the WCA, and any future denomination.
We are not a gathering to discuss the “latest” or “inside” news. We are simply meeting together in the Lord’s presence and praying for the WCA and its future direction and needs.
If you are so led and have not already done so, please contact me!
Pam Thomas (WCA-VA Prayer Coordinator) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Dr. H.O. “Tom” Thomas is the new President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association of Virginia We wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about our new President and a word about Tom from our outgoing President Rev. Gayle Thornberry.
Tom is a Director of the Good News’ Board, recent president of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Virginia Annual Conference, and a member of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. An Ordained Elder in the Virginia Annual Conference, he has pastored diverse churches in Virginia, California and England and taught at higher educational institutions, including Asbury Theological Seminary from 1998 to 2003. Receiving his M. Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in John Wesley’s theology from the University of Bristol, Bristol, England, he and his wife Pam of forty four years lived in John Wesley’s home, “The New Room”.
Since 2017, he has been a contributor to www.moralapologetics.com and has published articles in Methodist History and the Wesleyan Theological Journal.
The Thomas’s have two children, Karissa, an attorney in Richmond, Virginia, and John, a recent graduate of Regent University. His two year old grandson is Beau. Tom enjoys being outdoors in his little parkland woods and sitting by a warm, log fire with a good book and a mug of PG Tips tea. He is making progress on a projected book project entitled, Practicing Prayer with John Wesley. His life text is, ‘Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire to work and speak and think for Thee’.
I have known and worked with Tom for the last 8 years and I’m always so blessed by his leadership, knowledge, and delightful humor. He will serve our chapter well. Tom will be at the helm with a gifted team to serve alongside him on the Board. The full board is as follows:
A group of diverse #UMC bishops, clergy and laity recently met to cast a vision for a future expression of Methodism. If and when the General Conference adopts the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation,” we intend to form a new Methodist denomination that:
Is passionate about Jesus and His gospel,
Is characterized by Joy,
Is truly GLOBAL in our mission, membership and
Trusts the Bible, in which the living core of our faith
Loves everybody and welcomes all who respond to God’s
Upholds core, historic, Methodist doctrines, ethics and
Works to eradicate racism, sexism, poverty and addiction,
Values Wesleyan connectional community and
Empowers women and people of color to lead the Church
at every level,
Takes deep discipleship and leadership formation
Emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit and
Minimizes bureaucracy to maximize impact.
If you’re excited by this, then do three things: 1) sign up
for updates at http://NewWesleyanDenomination.com,
2) share this post and 3) pray with us as we work toward achieving this
By H. O. Tom Thomas, President, Evangelical Fellowship of Virginia
Bishop John Yambasus’ mediation team released January 3, 2020 the widely publicized ‘Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation’. The result of long negotiations of traditionalists, centrists, and progressives, it calls for “restructuring the Church through respectful and dignified separation’ (Article I: 2).
Reflect with me on six significant reasons this agreement is so historic. The settlement foresees an epochal moment not seen in the history of Methodism since the nineteenth century. We have not seen a fresh reinvigoration of Methodism since the nineteenth century break-offs of Free Methodists, Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Salvation Army or even the split between the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and Methodist Episcopal Church.
We do not want to miss the forest for the trees. Since the concord is a compromise, there are downsides which will adversely affect our people and churches both here and in Africa. We must resist the temptation to pick it apart. Celebrate it for its broad strokes. Let me share why this agreement ought to be supported.
1) At General Conference 2019, the Traditionalist Plan prevailed. Tightened policies of accountability were set to kick in January 2020. Is not this an indication traditionalists are in the driver’s seat to exercise positive, accountable governance over the church? We rejoice in another re-assertion of the last eleven General Conferences. However, as I have been arguing for the last five years, is it reasonable and realistic to expect the same bad actors that spurn Scripture’s final authority and have defied the law of The Book of Discipline for years to submit respectfully now to the umpteenth decision of General Conference? No. In fact, their resistance has only become more open, more determined, more calculating and more vehement.
Consider the following: forty percent of our Annual Conferences are on record stating they will not abide by General Conference’s 2019 decision. How many more are quietly inclined the same way? A number of annual conferences openly ordained practicing homosexuals last spring after General Conference 2019 with little real consequences. Sixty five to seventy percent of the US 2020 General Conference delegates are not traditionalists. All but one general church agency was for the One Church Plan. The National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church advocated for the One Church Plan. In a survey done, the majority of the Council of Bishops affirms homosexual practice ought to be allowed in our church. Let us face it, no matter what General Conference passes, United Methodism’s United States corporate leadership is in lockstep and they hold the cards. The Traditionalist Plan is the law de jure, the law written on paper in our book. You would never know it. The One Church Plan is the de facto lawwhich is the law really in effect across the United States Connection. The One Church Plan is the law in force and is the one which in fact governs the Connection.
If our Church’s leadership will not conform itself to millennia of the unanimous witness of God’s Holy Word, and will not give credence to the consensus of thousands of years of Jewish and Christian commentary, then will it submit to the human voice of The Book of Discipline? Can leopards change their spots? The hope of doubling down on accountability and completing the work on the Traditional Plan this General Conference 2020 is a pipe-dream. Strong, effective accountability across the denomination has not happened in eleven General Conferences. It will not happen after General Conference 2020. The will of the United States corporate leadership is not there to enforce accountability, now or in the foreseeable future. The Protocol is historic because it will break this anarchy!
2) Perhaps the most monumental reason for supporting the Protocol is that Bible believing Christians can be set free from the oppression and reign of sin. Many may not know, but John Wesley used the following principle to determine when persons should separate from the church. John Wesley said when one is asked to do what Scripture forbids, or forbidden to do what Scripture positively commands, one has a ‘bounden’ duty to separate. Specifically, if you cannot ‘continue without sin’, you must separate ‘without delay’. I, for one, cannot continue in the United Methodist Church without continuing in sin! There must be resolution or else! With the Protocol, Biblical Christians can now be free of the complicity of accommodating themselves to a church advocating that pastors and people live in sin. The Protocol will allow the formation of a new church where believers may worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in spirit and truth and in good conscience. This makes the Protocol historic!
3) The Protocol agreement is to date the best way to leave the sin and still have a place to go! It is the best way out for a way in. It is an Exit Plan with an intentional designation! Explicitly, the Protocol offers local churches an opportunity without harassment to choose to be a part of a new traditionalist denomination and take with them all their property and assets free and clear. There is no apportionment payment expectation and no fees. Of course, each new denomination will have to fund its share of retired pastors’ pensions. Evangelical pastors and churches have been longing for years for a plan that allows their churches to be in a church where Scripture is truly honored! This is what the historic Protocol agreement allows!
4) Centrists and Progressives by the Protocol have moved to a position of acceptance of “separation”. This is striking! Even after General Conference 2019, centrist leader Tom Berlin was not interested in working with the Evangelical Fellowship and Wesleyan Covenant Association here in Virginia on a joint Annual Conference resolution for General Conference for ‘amicable separation’. Centrists consistently over the years assume the vast majority of United Methodists are ‘centrists’. Centrists’ working assumption is Traditionalists and Progressives are fringe groups. Annual Conference delegation votes reported last summer only confirmed them in the view. Centrist and Progressives, which traditionalist leaders confirm, report sixty five to seventy five percent of United States delegates going to General Conference in 2020 are pro-homosexual practice.
The traditionalist coalition, the Renewal and Reform Coalition, has also done the math. In spite of those figures, Traditionalists have the votes – by a whisker – if everything goes right – to vote in our legislation. It is too close for confidence. In the past leading Centrists and Progressives, bishops included, have premised that a plan of separation would concede too much – assets, agencies, infrastructure, and local churches – to minority interests (conservatives). The fact that those who have been entrenched in the views of theological diversity in unity above all are conceding ‘separation’ cannot be underestimated! They are legitimizing a term which is loath to them. By entering into a pact with traditionalists they are implicitly recognizing the Wesleyan Covenant Association movement which for them is illegitimate and schismatic. The Protocol is truly historic!
5) Since 1972, the vast majority of United Methodist clergy today have ministered in a United Methodist church conceived in the construct of ‘doctrinal pluralism’. ‘Doctrinal pluralism’ (not to be confused with racial or ethnic pluralism) affirms that diverse theologies should live in Christian unity. ‘Doctrinal pluralism’ is a false construct wrongly attributed to John Wesley which was introduced in 1972 into the newly founded United Methodist Church to make it a theological ‘big tent’ smorgasbord. Our Church turned away from its long connection to historic Methodism to become a church of many diverse, contradictory theologies. Doctrinal pluralism now forty eight years later has become a way to justify ‘any belief goes’, e.g. even ‘queer theology’.
Regent University professor Dale M. Coulter observes the Protocol represents the death of doctrinal pluralism. He calls doctrinal pluralism a ‘failed experiment in Methodist unity’. The Protocol now offers Traditionalists, often the victims of pluralism for almost two generations, a way to be a part of a church where a clear consensus on vital Gospel truths promotes heartfelt preaching of Jesus Christ as the Savior of sinners! Evangelical UMC pastors have never known such in their ministerial careers! The Protocol offers a truly historic new beginning!
6) One of the most common responses to the Protocol by Traditionalists is ‘The United Methodist Church is our church, why should we leave?’ As one put it, the Protocol feels like an ‘eviction’ notice to Traditionalists. We are having to give up our name, our Discipline, our assets, et cetera. Because of the ‘optics’ of the Centrists and Progressives keeping the UMC name and the structures, many persons view the agreement as Traditionalists leaving the church. Let me speak to this in two parts, A and B. (A) Let’s keep in mind the Protocol’s text: ‘the undersigned propose restricting the United Methodist Church by separation as the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person’.
Giving up the name ‘United Methodist’ and its logo of ‘cross and flame’ is a sticking point for Methodists. Especially in Africa and in the Central Conferences the name is revered and respected. Here in the United States, not so much for a significant section of Traditionalist clergy. In polls of Traditionalist clergy leaders over the years, the great majority feel the name has become a liability. Furthermore, our boards, agencies, and seminaries have become such entrenched strongholds of progressivism they would do better in the hands of the Centrist and Progressive ‘post-UMC’ church. Quite honestly, many Traditionalists feel our brand is almost beyond redemption. It has become sullied with its association with the affirmation of homosexual practice and other liberal views. Traditionalists believe we need to re-brand ourselves for future effective evangelism and church growth. Moreover, Traditionalists envision a new church with a much leaner and much less expensive structure. The Protocol gives us this chance to start afresh! This is an historic opportunity!
(B) Many Traditionalists are lamenting that it is we who are having to leave ‘our’ church. What do people mean ‘our’ church? Do Centrists and Progressives have less claim to the church? Have they put in less time, effort, sacrifice and financial support? Do they not consider the United Methodist Church ‘our’ church too? Even though since 1972 our church has maintained the same position regarding the practice of homosexuality, ‘doctrinal pluralism’ has otherwise allowed persons with crazy, heretical doctrines to call United Methodism ‘our’ church too! We have co-existed with mutually exclusive, pluralistic theologies and are all calling the same church ‘our’ church! Since the 1972 reception of theological pluralism an argument can be made Traditionalists do not have the exclusive right to call the UM church ‘our’ church. We have been sharing it with many people of disparate theologies.
There is another reason to hold the possessive ‘our’ lightly. Ask yourself: whose Church is it? Is it mine, or yours, or ‘ours’? It is Jesus Christ’s Church. He is the Head of the Church for whom He shed His blood. As you think about buildings, assets and the like, think about how Jesus dealt with the first century Jewish Temple and the Jewish institution of his day. As he entered the Temple, he attempted to cleanse it and reclaim it as the One with the rightful authority. ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer…’ Jesus said (Matthew 21:13). It was His house and He the One for whom it was founded. If it could only have been. Jesus’s battle line was not in fighting over a building or temple structure or institutional infrastructure. Though rightfully His, Jesus was content to leave it all to the scribes and Pharisees. “See, your house is left to you, desolate” he said. One could argue that for the idolatrous love of the structure and institution the Jewish Establishment missed Jesus! Jesus let them turn ‘his’ house into their house. Letting it go, Jesus did a new thing in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Both of my great grandfathers, George R. Stuart and John P. Pettyjohn, had significant roles in establishing Lake Junaluska. Lake Junaluska may very well be a casualty in the separation and no longer in ‘my’ church. Nevertheless, the price one pays to be God’s own people, a holy nation, and a chosen race to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ is worth it. We say with Moses, Jesus is worth more than the treasuries of Egypt! The Protocol agreement is an entrée to renewal and revival. In fact, it may even be the final fruit and realization of the heartfelt prayers for renewal and reform begun in the 1960’s.
For these reasons, the Protocol agreement is truly historic! Though disruptions are coming and friends will be victims, the Protocol proposal is an epochal moment in Methodism the likes of which we have not seen in one hundred and fifty years! Support it!