New evangelical group to uphold tradition or seek division

Wesleyan-Covenant-LogoTwo UM News Service stories report on the inaugural meeting, Oct. 7, in Chicago, of a new Wesleyan evangelical group that calls for a global witness of steadfast orthodoxy that may ultimately leave The United Methodist disunited.

UMNS’ Heather Hahn reports on the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s jam-packed one-day gathering that included worship with Communion, speeches, selection of leaders, and the body’s affirmation of moral principles and church rules to uphold traditional beliefs against the forces of change moving across the denomination.

The new association, which drew attendees from the U.S. and Africa, addressed the Council of Bishops’ efforts to create a Commission on the Way Forward that will review and recommend church polices on homosexuality with the goal of maintaining church unity.

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“We believe it is imperative for the commission to propose a plan that calls for accountability and integrity to our covenant, and restores the good order of our church’s polity,” the association’s statement said.

If the commission decides such a plan is impossible, the association calls for “a plan of separation that honors the consciences of all the people of the church and allows them to go forward in peace and good will.”

The Rev. Chris Ritter, an Illinois pastor and one of the organizers, cited virtues of integrity and accountability. “If we are one church, we need to stop acting like two churches,” he said. “If we are two churches, we need to stop pretending we are one. I say this as someone who has worked for unity of the church.”

Read Hahn’s two stories: “Evangelical group plans for ‘new day’ in church” and “Group: Accountability needed to avoid church split

Read also: “My thoughts on the WCA meeting in Chicago” to get Ministry Matters editor Shane Raynor’s perspective.