Home Christian News Traditionalist Vein of the UMC Still Contemplating Breaking Away

Traditionalist Vein of the UMC Still Contemplating Breaking Away

Evidence of the divide could be seen elsewhere in Tulsa. As the WCA met, about 200 others gathered at Boston Avenue United Methodist for a prayer vigil and worship service supporting full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in The United Methodist Church.

It was a response to the WCA meeting, not a protest, said the Rev. David Wiggs, Boston Avenue United Methodist’s pastor.

“We began to talk about how we might have a different voice of Methodism represented here in Tulsa. It grew from there,” Wiggs said.

The WCA event included a Nov. 8 session where its 226-member global legislative assembly endorsed the New Denominations of United Methodism Plan, better known as the Indianapolis Plan. That plan would divide The United Methodist Church into two or more denominations.

It’s among various options that will be considered at the 2020 General Conference, and behind-the-scenes conversations about the denomination’s future continue.

Boyette helped negotiate the Indianapolis Plan, and the WCA’s governing council had already endorsed it. The legislative assembly added its backing by a margin of more than 90 percent.

The Rev. Paul Lawler, pastor of Christ (United Methodist) Church in Birmingham, Alabama, noted that traditionalists, centrists and progressives helped draft the proposal.

“It is, by and large, a fair and just plan that would end a long and acrimonious dispute that has undermined the health and vitality of The United Methodist Church,” Lawler told the global gathering.

Wesleyan Covenant Still Considers the Traditional Plan an Option

But the WCA released a statement promising that—in the absence of what it considers a fair separation plan—it would work at the 2020 General Conference for full implementation of the Traditional Plan to protect traditionalist churches remaining in the denomination.

Boyette and other leaders also noted in Tulsa that the Association of Korean United Methodist Churches—representing some of the Korean American congregations in the denomination—has voted to align with the WCA. Boyette said that included working toward the creation of a new traditionalist church.

Bishop Pedro Torio of the Baguio Area in the Philippines gave a homily at the global gathering. He joined the Rev. Tom Harrison, pastor of Asbury United Methodist, in presiding at communion.

The Rev. Kenneth Levingston of Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston speaks at the Wesleyan Covenant Association Global Gathering, held Nov. 9 in Tulsa, Okla. Photo by Sam Hodges, UM News.

Other speakers included the Rev. William Abraham, of Perkins School of Theology; the Rev. Nako Kellum, of Tarpon (United) Methodist Church in Tarpon Springs, Florida; the Rev. Bob Kaylor, of Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church in Monument, Colorado; and the Rev. Kenneth Levingston, of Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston.

Cara Nicklas, an Edmund, Oklahoma, lawyer who serves on the WCA council, also addressed the crowd. She cautioned that a new denomination would not be able to blame centrists and progressives if it falters in independence.

“It will all be on us, and we’ve got to up our game,” she said.

That the fallout from the 2019 General Conference has hit a lot of churches hard, including his own, came through in the Rev. Shane Bishop’s remarks.

“Unless we have an incredible last quarter, we will fail to grow for the first time in 23 years,” Bishop said of Christ (United Methodist) Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois. “This has been a really discouraging time.”

Bishop got a laugh when he said he tries to confine his whining to 20 minutes every Tuesday. But he was blunt about the need to stay focused on sharing the gospel.

“The good news of Jesus Christ hasn’t gotten worse just because our denomination is blowing to crap.”

This article originally appeared on UMNews.org under the title WCA Looks Toward New, Traditionalist Church. Used with permission.