United Methodist Evangelicals See Growth despite Denominational Division
The Wesleyan Covenant Association, the largest group within the United Methodist Church, is growing despite some division in the church.
According to The Christian Post, the Wesleyan Covenant Association is also considered the “traditionalists” of the UMC. The association has a strong interpretation of the Bible, including traditionalist views on marriage and clergy. The group also adheres to evangelical beliefs and values.
WCA President Keith Boyette said more than 3,000 churches have affiliated with the association, and the group is growing. In August 2021, the next General Conference will show that growth, he added.
This year‘s conference was canceled amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s been no pause at all for us,” Boyette says. “We’re working vigorously toward a new, theologically conservative, global Methodist church.”
Boyette said he is hoping the WCA can be part of that new traditionalist church.
“The association will act as a midwife in launching the resulting denomination,” Boyette said.
Traditionalist within the church have argued that UMC evangelism is sometimes too focused on “social gospel of good works” instead of Jesus as salvation.
“Social justice is important — the transformation in us never ends — but the first step is beginning a relationship with Christ,” says the Rev. Thacker Haynes, senior pastor of the United Methodist churches in rural McLean and Heald, Texas.
He says his churches will most likely align with a new evangelical Wesleyan group or go independent.
Other groups within the UMC have left the UMC denomination or are looking at possibly splitting into their own churches. At a meeting in Dallas for “progressive” churches, the Liberation Methodist Church was proposed. The group would be focused on “intersectionality” and stay “trauma-informed” on issues such as race and sexual diversity.
Northside United Methodist Church in Tennessee voted to leave the denomination, change its name and join the Free Methodist Church, a small group with headquarters in Indianapolis.
“As the UMC has become so divided and is heading toward a split, we simply decided that God is calling us to remove ourselves from the ongoing conflict and focus on Christ’s mission for us to share God’s love with all people and lead people to be followers of Jesus Christ,” Senior Pastor Don Thrasher wrote in a news release. “We are a people with a deep love for Scripture and the long-held biblical traditions of the church.”
Photo courtesy: Public Domain
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.