Why I Went to Atlanta

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By Keith Boyette –

The United Methodist Church is navigating stormy seas. Some bishops are in open-defiance against the Council of Bishops. An entire jurisdiction of the church has declared it will not abide by the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. Clergy and churches in some regions of the United States have made public statements that they will not live in unity if they don’t get their way. Yet, a fresh new wind of the Holy Spirit is moving in local churches bringing a hunger and passion for revival in the midst of our denominational dysfunction and disease.

In January, I was in Atlanta to hear more about the formation of the Wesleyan Covenant Network (WCN) and its desire to “advance the Kingdom of Christ through fostering of covenant relationships and practical networks among the Wesleyan theological family.”

“I came away from the 2012 General Conference less hopeful for the church than at any other time in my ministry,” Dr. Maxie Dunnam told the group. As he sought the Lord, he came to the conviction that “we United Methodists have ‘forgotten who we are.’  We have lost our identity and we are struggling to find life again. Unfortunately, our efforts seem to be focused primarily on renewal through restructuring … almost everything focused on the ‘institution,’ coming close to making an idol of the ‘connection.’”

In light of what he was discerning, Dunnam declared, “I believe we need revival, not renewal of our structure. From my study of the Great Awakenings and the mighty Wesleyan Revival that followed, I am convinced that the revitalization of doctrine and fervent prayer are two primary essentials of revival. And the locus of revival is the local church.”  The Wesleyan Covenant Network desires to contribute to making Methodism a Kingdom force once more.

The network plans to establish a covenant relationship amongst clergy and local churches grounded in prayer and a shared commitment to revitalizing Wesleyan theology to awaken and revive the church, as well as provide mutual encouragement and accountability. WCN aims to emphasize Kingdom mission and evangelism by demonstrating commitment to the church and to unity through doctrine and mission, not institutional structures and apportionments.

The network has partnered with Seedbed.com and WesleyanAccent.com to provide resources for the revitalization of doctrine and fervent prayer. For those with a vision for initiating church plants, WCN has linked up with the New Expression Network for coaching in discipleship, church planting strategy, and partnership.

Membership in the Wesleyan Covenant Network for clergy and local churches is done through an application and an annual membership fee based upon the worship attendance of the local church. The church I pastor, Wilderness Community United Methodist Church in Spotsylvania, Virginia, took formal action to join the network through its Leadership Board meeting on January 19.

Through our membership in the network, we are linked to a broad network of churches and pastors who share our priorities. The Wesleyan Covenant Network is providing a place for evangelicals to experience community, shared ministry, and effective resources when our denominational institutions are failing us.

Keith Boyette is pastor of Wilderness Community Church in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He served as a member of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church from 2000-2008. He is also chairperson of the Board of Directors of Good News.

Highlights of the Atlanta gathering can be viewed Vimeo.com/84641273. More information about the Wesleyan Covenant Network can be obtained at The Orchard, WCN, P. O. Box 3216, Tupelo, MS. 38803. The network has a presence on the web at www.wesleayncovenantnetwork.org.



  1. I think many people are looking for something to revitalize our Church. This article opens a lot of questions without additional data. Is this Wesleyan vs Methodist to some degree? Also is the fee based vs apportionments? How would this idea be sold to a congregation when the Pastor is not interested enough now to preach on the principles of Methodism or Wesley? Mr. Boyette is correct that Methodist today have lost their identity. The key idea, to me, is: “Does this WCN promote an Espirit de Corp for existing people and local churches, including the larger Church unity? I have not read the supporting data listed in this article at this time.

  2. In the midst of war there have been casualties, thankfully not in the form of death but certainly in other forms. In the political world we live and due to men’s selfishness and sin, one is hardpressed not to look after oneself even within the church pastorates/polities. We want revival. We need revival. …as a nation as well as within Christian denominations. We must seek after our Father Jehovah, whose Holy Spirit will provide revival. But the vehicle (the denomination) must be improved according to His laws and the apostate must be kept at bay within the vehicle. Why are these apostate ‘bishops’ (retired at that), ‘pastors’ and “leaders” in the UMC allowed to continue n their apostacy? Should the vehicle be allowed to continue to swerve and go out of control so that it crashes? Please keep up the good work and do not allow the apostacy to discourage. Stay strong in your identity in Christ, Christian principles and teachings from our God’s Holy Scriptures.
    From a former member of the UMC, a conservative evangelical Wesleyan believer.


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    Why I Went to Atlanta

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