It was a privilege to attend the Third Annual Global gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) meeting in Marietta, Georgia on Saturday November 3, 2018. Having attended the prior gatherings in Houston, Texas and Chicago, Illinois, it was good to see how much this grass roots organization has grown over the past two years. Aside from the legislative update, the uplifting music and terrific sermons, there were a few takeaways from this event that should give hope to those concerned with the future of the United Methodist Church and the February 2019 General Conference.
First, the WCA will be offering a “modified” Traditionalist Plan at the February General Conference that will include many of the items originally included in the plan but found to be unconstitutional. The modified plan will take into consideration the issues raised by the Judicial Council and address them with a new proposal that will fit within the constitutional concerns.
Second, there are other proposals that were sent to the General Conference that include an amicable separation that are outside of the Traditionalist Plan. On November 26, 2018 the list of proposal will be published and we are aware of at least three proposals that were submitted that included proposals that would allow local churches to leave the denomination, retain their property and pay only the unfunded pension liability of their annual conference. We do not know if any of this proposals will actually be voted on at the February General Conference and likely will not know until the Committee of the Whole, which will be the entirety of the General Conference delegates, makes the decision as to what to vote on at the February meeting. However, there are other proposals pending that allow local churches to leave and this may be helpful for those looking to start anew.
Third, there are WCA branches that have started, or are in the process of incorporating, in every annual conference in the United States and in many of the Central Conference jurisdictions throughout the world. The movement continues to grow and now includes several United Methodist Bishops who agree with its purposes. The conference itself had thousands of people attending and watching around the world. The takeaway is that there is strength in numbers. If the Traditional Plan does not pass, or if no plan passes, the WCA is ready to pivot to another way forward sixty days after the General Conference.
This is truly a year of uncertainty within the United Methodist denomination. We have advised our clients, and continue to advise local churches, that they need to prepare for the change well in advance of the February conference. Call or email Daniel Dalton at Dalton & Tomich PLC to find out what your church should do to prepare for the upcoming changes in the denominational relationships. Learn more about the Methodist Trust clause and find out what documents you should gather by going to our website, here.