Skip links

What the WCA is teaching us (so far)

Recently, the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) held one of its big meetings in Indiana and Liam Adams from the Tennessean provided excellent coverage through Twitter.

His thread is via this embed:

This is a critical time in the history (or future) of The United Methodist Church – the content of the WCA’s meeting itself was indicative of this:

  • The moving on of Keith Boyette from leading the WCA to leading the transition of the Global Methodist Church (GMC)
  • Recommending a catechism (huh?) for the GMC

I have casually followed the reporting and taken a look at some of the documents discussed.

Here are three things that I think are important to see about the WCA and the future of the UMC:

1. This is about identity and power

The catechetical beliefs that the WCA recommended for the GMC are, surprisingly, not too different from that of The UMC.

It’s not technically fundamentalist – they don’t believe in pre-destination and they do not emphasize inerrancy of scripture.

It’s pretty middle-of-the-road Wesleyanism – yes, they talk about grace and stuff.

Of course, they had one piece added on the first day about, “biological,” males and females. And, they continue to criticize the current UMC bishops.

But, is that what this is about? One part of a system of beliefs?

If so, then something becomes clear:

It’s about trying to re-establish the historic dominance of the conservative American Anglo male in power in The United Methodist Church.

And, this reaction is reflective of similar behavior outside of the church itself, broadly in American society.

2. Progressives might act similarly

Ironically, it is difficult to say that “progressives” in The United Methodist Church are acting too differently.

Sure, there are clear and deep theological differences with broad implications. (And, for full disclosure, I, myself, believe that it is certainly NOT a sin to be homosexual).

But, the effort feels similar:

To keep a (more recent) historic identity of Anglo-dominant liberalism in the Church – to form lines of power that would ensure this administratively.

3. A better alternative

Groups like the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) and the WCA can be classified as caucuses or special interest groups.

They, accordingly, stand for a set of values and principles. And, they advocate for a particular vision of the Church.

All of that is fine and great.

However, in the design of a denomination, especially for the sake of the future, perhaps a better alternative to codifying long-held efforts of opposition is to:

First, hold a posture of learning.

The questions that The United Methodist Church should address today are those of our current and future cultural milieus – how familiar are we (yes, I am United Methodist) with them?

Whatever answers that we have had have not resonated so greatly with the public – at least not enough to counteract our decline.

I know that we ought to stand for what is right and to not depend on trends for our identity – I agree. But, let’s take a good look at ourselves:

Could we call ourselves the church of the future with integrity?

Trends are not evil – they are simply demonstrable and displayed behavior by society, broadly.

We do not have to follow them. But, we do need to acknowledge and accept them (such trends) if we are to be able to effectively connect with and lead them.

Our next area of focus will be what it would be like to “relaunch the denomination,” as recently noted among United Methodist leaders.

James from The Last Seminary
Head of Content

Return to top of page