8 Bishops join in planning new denomination

People who had submitted briefs to the United Methodist Judicial Council pray prior to a May 2018 oral hearing in Evanston, Ill. From left are the Rev. Keith Boyette, Stephanie Henry, Bishop Scott Jones, John Lomperis and Thomas E. Starnes. Boyette, Jones and Lomperis were among 28 United Methodists who signed a statement from a meeting in Atlanta about the formation of a new traditionalist denomination. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.
People who had submitted briefs to the United Methodist Judicial Council pray prior to a May 2018 oral hearing in Evanston, Ill. From left are the Rev. Keith Boyette, Stephanie Henry, Bishop Scott Jones, John Lomperis and Thomas E. Starnes. Boyette, Jones and Lomperis were among 28 United Methodists who signed a statement from a meeting in Atlanta about the formation of a new traditionalist denomination. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

A group of United Methodist leaders, including eight bishops, has issued a statement sharing its vision for a global traditionalist denomination focused on evangelism and the “primacy of Scripture.” Among the group’s essential doctrinal beliefs is defining Christian marriage as between a man and a woman.

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Two of the bishops who signed the statement told UM News they would depart The United Methodist Church for such a new denomination. One other said he is considering it.

“Although no one yet knows what The United Methodist Church will look like following the 2021 General Conference, it is clear that our denomination is no longer unified in its beliefs,” the more than two dozen traditionalist leaders said in a press release accompanying their March 12 statement. “Therefore, some sort of separation is probable. As such, we felt it necessary to begin conversations about what the new traditional expression of Methodism might look like.”

Texas Conference Bishop Scott Jones joined the Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, and Patricia Miller, executive director of the United Methodist Confessing Movement, in convening a recent meeting in Atlanta that led to the statement. 

Eurasia Area Bishop Eduard Khegay signed the statement and said by email that he plans to join the new denomination if the protocol passes.

Upper New York Area Bishop Mark J. Webb also signed the statement and told UM News that if the protocol passes he intends “to follow God’s call upon my life and be a part of the formation of a global traditional expression of Methodism.”

Other episcopal leaders who signed the statement include Nigeria Area Bishop John Wesley Yohanna; Baguio (Philippines) Area Bishop Pedro M. Torio Jr. and retired Bishop Young Jin Cho.

Under the protocol, an annual conference could leave The United Methodist Church with a majority vote of at least 57 percent.

Pastors and advocacy group leaders were part of the Atlanta meeting and signed onto the statement. The Rev. Jan Davis, pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was among them.

The statement describes the new church’s reliance on Scripture and stresses adherence to the historic creeds and Wesleyan doctrinal statements.

Should it pass, Boyette added, a transitional form of a new denomination could be in place quickly to receive churches, conferences and clergy, with a convening conference to be held in 2021.

No name has been chosen for the new denomination, Boyette said.

excerpt from a story by Sam Hodges and Heather Hahn, writers for United Methodist News. Jim Patterson contributed.

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