From Tom Thomas, President Wesleyan Covenant Assocation of Virginia
Mark Twain said if you do not read the news, you will be uninformed; if you do, you will be misinformed. Whichever, suddenly, the news is breathtaking! First, The Commission on General Conference announced they have cancelled General Conference 2022. They announced their decision Thursday evening March 3 at 6:00pm EST. They argue we cannot achieve the value of having full participation of all global delegates. Obtaining visas for some delegates could take up to 800 days. They say the State Department has in some areas a “massive backlog” of visa applications. Which areas, they do not say. They are not satisfied a virtual or hybrid General Conference could safeguard the integrity of voting and support our style of conferencing in legislative committees. The Commission said they had a thorough debate – and I understand a very divided one. The non-US members of the Commission overwhelmingly voted for convening General Conference believing non-US delegates could safely take part. Most of the US institutionalist members knew better and voted against holding General Conference. Though the Commission spent no effort or money in helping central conference delegates get vaccinated or obtain their visas, cancellation of conference will cost $3 million. (Read UM News’s report and the Commission’s press release at UMC.org)
We are deeply disappointed, but for me the news is as expected. My conclusion: the Commission has not the red-hot desire or will for the Protocol. After two years with the Protocol before us, the Establishment has decided it flies in the face of and cuts against the grain of a ‘big tent’ vision for the church. Read the Council of Bishops “Narrative for the Continuing United Methodist Church” released November 8,2021. They are still committed to the ‘One Church Plan’ where we ‘all get along’ – like we did not on the floor of the St. Louis General Conference 2019!
Second, more noteworthy, the Transitional Leadership Council and the WCA have announced the launch of the Global Methodist Church (GMC) May 1, 2022!! The Global Methodist Church will be a legal and operating entity May1! A new Methodist movement! A renewed Methodism! Some of us have waited for this for forty years!! The decision is extraordinary! It is brave and hugely important! Thank you, leaders!
Our renewal and reform coalition leadership believes there is doubt about who the 2024 General Conference delegates will be. The chances of the Protocol passing in 2024 is slim. Plus, churches are disaffiliating and need connection now! I absolutely agree. Now is the critical moment.
If you are like me, the news wants digesting. It leaves us with a mixture of emotions to process – anger at the postponement of General Conference; joy and relief in the formation of a next Methodism but anxiety and fear at how local UMC churches can become a part of it. There are ways local UMC churches in the Virginia Annual Conference can now consider using to align with the GMC. The WCA-VA Chapter will be seeking the input of churches interested in the possibility of aligning with GMC. Together we will do better in considering these alternatives.
If you or your local church wants to connect with Spirit-ﬁlled, orthodox churches, clergy and lay persons who share a common understanding of Scripture and our Wesleyan doctrine and desire to be vibrant, faithful, growing 21st century church, please contact me, Tom Thomas, at dr.hot4jc@gmail or cell 434-333-5755. Our WCA-VA Executive Council will meet this Sunday March 6 at 5pm to begin processing the news and to consider how we can best assist local churches in these uncertain times.
I am confident the Lord and Captain of our host will lead us “in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”.
Expecting His best for you in 2022,
Tom Thomas, WCA – VA, president
P.S. I highly encourage you to listen to Ketih Boyette’s podcast on this situation. That podcast is located at https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-cqtn8-11bfb39