Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiness Leaders Form New Global Wesleyan Alliance!

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.
According to the report, the GWA’s first joint effort will be a call to prayer for spiritual awakening and revival. An exciting major effort is the establishment of procedures for the mutual recognition of minister’s credentials among the Alliance’s covenant partners.  The report indicates that an online, free library of classic holiness literature is already available at www.holinesslegacy.com.  The Alliance will also sponsor regional “Holiness Summits” (www.holiness-summit.org) in order to introduce others to the personal experience of entire sanctification.

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.

3 comments:

Todd Stepp said...

This same article has been reported at Nazarene Communications Network at this site: http://www.ncnnews.com/nphweb/html/ncn/article.jsp?sid=10000023&id=10010960

Eric + said...

I responded on the FB page, but I am aware that readership may be different. I once would have been very excited about news of this development, but times and climate have tempered my enthusiasm a bit. Perhaps I could fairly be described as cautiously optimistic.

Here is my problem: nature of scripture. I am not familiar with all of the denominations affiliated, but several of them are much more fundamentalist in their understanding of scripture than are we. And it seems to me that most of the conflict that I see going on within the church roots back to theology of scripture. The big issue between "emergents," for instance and the "concerned" is the way they each understand scripture. I also know of at least one of the denominations in the alliance that has made it a point to warn the CotN of the dangers of things "emergent" and "catholic."

We have a hard enough time being Wesleyan without surrounding ourselves with those whose view of scripture aligns with those within our family who are causing such division. Is this really a wise move? I don't know, but I know that if I am a recovering alcoholic it would not be wise to surround myself with alcoholics.

I am glad that we are taking steps to partner with others, I am just not sure if we are choosing wise partners. I am cautiously optimistic.

Todd Stepp said...

Eric, it seems that my article needed some editing, which I must have missed!

Anyway, while I recognize your concerns, it should be noted that all of the groups, with the exception of the Church of Christ Holiness and the Pilgrim Holiness Church, have already been our "partners" for years through the Christian Holiness Parntership.

That being said, the recognition of clergy of some of the groups may be of some concern. (It is interesting that the Pilgrim Holiness Church is a part of this, in that they are the ones who stayed out of the Pilgrim Holiness/Wesleyan Methodist merger to form The Wesleyan Church.

As concerned as you are about issues of Scripture, I would also be concerned that some of the groups (like Church of God and, likely, Church of Christ Holiness and others) have a restorationist tradition. That is to say, while I am happy to see us working together around the Wesleyan understanding of holiness, I am concerned that we maintain our Methodist roots.

I would be interested, if you feel free, to know which denominations has warned us about things emergent and catholic. (I know that we are closest to The Wesleyan Church.)

What is true, I think, is that we have needed an organization like this to group together Wesleyan-Holiness denominations on a global scale, especially with the loss of the Christian Holiness Partnership.

Again, my hope is that we maintain our Methodist heritage and that we really do help lead this group, rather than have our identity replaced by fundamentalism.

On the other hand, just as concerns are raised about some in this group, concerns were raised about our associating with the United Methodists, the British Methodists and the United Church of Canada when we joined the World Methodist Council.