Saturday, June 21, 2008

Some Reflections on The Wesleyan Church General Conference, Part 3

During the General Conference, The Wesleyan Church had the opportunity to make a number of statements on current social issues. One of those issues was immigration.

I congratulate The Wesleyan Church on their statement concerning this timely issue.

On the one hand, given the denominations similarities to the Church of the Nazarene, and their social and theological conservatism (at times leading them headlong into fundamentalism), it may be a bit surprising to some where they come out on this issue.

However, for those who know their historical origin in the war against slavery, it is good to see that they have retained a bit of historical consistency.

The statement, itself, is a bit lengthy, but for those interested in their take on this important subject, you can find it, in its entirety, by clicking here.

Some Reflections on The Wesleyan Church General Conference, Part 2

In my previous post, I reflected upon the retirement of Wesleyan General Superintendent, Dr. Earl Wilson. That event, of course, meant that The Wesleyan Church needed to elect at least one new G.S. (and, as it turns out, the other two incumbents were re-elected).

It is with great joy that I congratulate The Wesleyan Church on the election of the Rev'd. Dr. Jo Anne Lyons (seen below, on the left). While The Wesleyan Church, like the Church of the Nazarene, has, from its very beginning, ordained women*, Dr. Lyons is the very first woman to serve that denomination as a General Superintendent.

The Wesleyans made this move on the heals of the 2005 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene, when we elected the Rev'd. Dr. Nina Gunter (on the right side, in the picture) as the very first woman to serve our denomination as a General Superintendent.

Making this move a bit more exciting is the fact that Dr. Gunter was present, representing the Church of the Nazarene at The Wesleyan General Conference.

May God's grace, guidance and blessings be upon Dr. Lyons and the Board of General Superintendents of The Wesleyan Church.

For more information on this historic vote, click here

*The Wesleyan/holiness churches were ordaining women long before the "liberal" mainline denominations (e.g., it took the United Methodist Church a quarter of a century to catch up with the Church of the Nazarene on this point). However, it has taken the Nazarenes and the Wesleyans far too long to catch up with the UMC regarding women in the episcopal role.

Some Reflections on The Wesleyan Church General Conference

The Wesleyan Church is the closest "sister denomination" to my denomination, the Church of the Nazarene. In fact, I believe it is a shameful thing (and given Christ, our Lord's, prayer that we be one, perhaps even a sinful thing) that we have not affected a merger of our two denominations. - But that is another topic.

I, personally, have a number of connections with The Wesleyan Church, through family members and family history, as well as my own ministry opportunities throughout college and seminary.

Earlier this month, The Wesleyan Church held their quadrennial General Conference. During their conference, a few things took place that I would like to reflect (briefly) upon.

First was the retirement of Dr. Earl Wilson from his long-time position as General Superintendent (Picture [on the right] with his brother, Dr. Norman Wilson [on the left], who also retired as Director of Communications and the speaker of The Wesleyan Hour). Dr. Earl Wilson served in church leadership for the denomination longer than anyone else in their history.

I had the opportunity to personally encounter and talk with Dr. Wilson on a few occassions; once, while he preached at the Orleans (IN) Wesleyan Campground. I also have happy memories of his presiding during one of the sessions at the Millennium Event for the Methodists in North America held in Huston, TX.

During the Millennium Event, it was organized so that a Bishop from the various Methodist denominations would preside at each session. Dr. Wilson, as a Wesleyan General Superintendent, presided at one of those sessions. It was during that session that he said (this may not be a complete quote, but it's pretty close), "I wish our people had enough sense to call us bishops." He said that when he is asked what he does, and he responds he is a General Superintendent, people don't know if he works in a factory someplace, or if they should salute him. - I loved that comment (and heartily agree with him!).

I also had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Wilson on our trip to Brighton, England for the 2001 World Methodist Conference. During that trip, I had the idea that, since the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church were (then) moving toward merger, our two denominations (The Wesleyans & the Nazarenes) should seek to send observers to their discussions. - I figured something might come from those observations that might promote the merger of our two denominations.

I told Dr. Wilson about my idea, and told him that I would write our Board of General Superintendents about it. He immediately and enthusiastically expressed his support for such a proposal and indicated that they would certainly do so. - Unfortunately, talks between the AMEZ & the CME came to a standstill before The Wesleyans & Nazarenes had an opportunity to send observers.

In addition to the encounters above, Dr. Wilson graciously agreed to preach at one of our annual Aldersgate Services, while I served as pastor of the Greencastle (IN) Church of the Nazarene.

I was saddened to hear of Dr. Wilson's retirement. I know that he desired for a merger to take place between our two denominations, and he was a very active part of his denomination's involvement with the World Methodist Council. Further, he was quite open and willing to correspond with me about certain issues and opportunites.

My prayer is that God's blessings would be upon Dr. Wilson during his years of retirement.