The Wesleyan Church has reported that on December 2-3, 2011, leaders of the Church of the Nazarene, The Wesleyan Church, Free Methodist Church USA, Church of God (Anderson), Churches of Christ in Christian Union, The Evangelical Church, Evangelical Methodist Church, Congregational Methodist Church, Church of Christ Holiness (USA), and the Pilgrim Holiness Church have met together to form a new partnership group called the Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA).
The Alliance is supposed to be a means for providing greater cooperation without bringing about denominational mergers. They list some of their initial objectives as including:
- Creating greater community through intentional relationship building;
- Collaborating to pool resources, share best practices and ministers, and generate new ideas and tools;
- Convening events to promote the personal experience of holiness and collective ministries for discipleship, church health and multiplication, leadership development, prayer and networking;
- Communicating with one another more intentionally and addressing contemporary issues and public concerns with a more united voice.
Dr. Jerry Pence, General Superintendent in The Wesleyan Church, was elected as the GWA's first president. He commented, “This alliance will enable holiness denominations to achieve a historic level of cooperation and unity for evangelism, discipleship, church multiplication, compassion and justice. Our passion is to pursue the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment—making Christ known through words and deeds and millions of lives filled with perfect love.”
Each of the denominations will, of course, have to officially approve GWA partnership. According to the report, they are expecting several other denominations to participate in the GWA’s first official assembly when it is held in Circleville, Ohio, November 30-December 1, 2012.
This is exciting news!
Readers of this blog will recall that I, through my district committee, sent a resolution to the last Nazarene General Assembly that would have Nazarenes approach The Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church to explore merger possibilities. That resolution was amended to leave out merger, but seek greater cooperation. - Since that time, I have come to the conclusion that denominational merger likely is not the way to go. I am very pleased with the news of this new Global Wesleyan Alliance!
Some question do remain. Will this organization be the successor of the now dormant Christian Holiness Partnership? It has been pointed out that the CHP was national in scope. It is clear from the name of the new group that the intent is that it be global in scope. Still, it should be noted that the denominations at this organizational meeting (even the global ones) are based in the U.S. Even the Free Methodist Church is specified as the U.S.A. branch of the FMC.
Will Wesleyan-Holiness denominations based outside of the U.S.A. align with the GWA? Will the GWA membership simply mirror the CHP membership? Will the Alliance reach out to some of the more conservative World Methodist Council denominations? Will this new Alliance have a negative affect on Nazarene, Wesleyan and Free Methodist membership in the World Methodist Council? (I hope not!) Will this "Wesleyan" Alliance be broadened so as to include Pentecostal holiness denominations, like the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium has done? (Personally, I think that such a move may dilute the Wesleyan-holiness message.)
For all of these answers, only time will tell.
For now, if anyone at the Nazarene Global Ministries Center happens to be reading this blog (yeah, right!), I would love to be a Nazarene representative to the GWA! (In the past, I have been appointed by the General Secretary as a denominational delegate to the Christian Holiness Partnership and the World Methodist Conference.)
The full story about the GWA can be read on The Wesleyan Church's site, here.