Faithful from the Start

Faithful from the Start

Faithful from the Start –

By Jenifer Jones –

It’s 84 degrees when church begins at 10:00 A.M. The high for Monterrey, Mexico is forecast at 102 today. Pastor Florencio Guzman puts on his suit jacket and steps behind the pulpit. 

The building has no air conditioning. Speaking over the roar of several blowing fans he says, “The heat is really strong. But we’re thankful for the heat of the Spirit.”  

At 83 years old, Florencio has been a pastor and cross-cultural witness (CCW) for decades.  He and his wife Maria were in the first class of CCWs to be sent out with TMS Global (what was then The Mission Society for United Methodists) after it began in 1984.  

Along with their two sons, Joshua and Johnny, they’ve planted churches; led programs for pastors, women, and children; discipled countless people, and more. They’ve ministered in Florencio’s native Peru, as well as other countries in Latin America. But they’ve spent the majority of their time in Maria’s native Mexico, specifically in Monterrey.   

While Florencio preaches, Maria is in the church kitchen, preparing an after-service meal for the congregation.  

Esther Espejo, who grew up in the church and affectionately calls Maria “Aunt Maria” says Maria has the best flavor in the world. “She has a gift with her hands in making food,” Esther says. “She is the most dedicated woman. When we had the groups of kids together, she made all the food for all of them.” 

Esther testifies that Maria and Florencio have always been there for her family. Esther’s mom participated in a sewing class taught by Maria and learned skills that helped lead to better employment.  

“I was never hungry,” Esther says. “I never went without having shoes, because God always used Pastor Florencio to supply those things. He would always bring food for my mom to cook. Even though we didn’t have anything to eat, we knew that he was coming at 12:00 and we ate so good.” 

She remembers a birthday when her family didn’t have money to celebrate. But Florencio arrived with three cakes.  

“Talking about Pastor Florencio is to talk about the best childhood anyone could have,” Esther says. 

Esther’s home is now becoming a place where kids and their parents gather to learn about God. 

Taco night. Corn tortillas sizzle in a pan as Julian Salinas prepares for a taco night with his sister Lulu, other family, and guests. Florencio has been the Salinas’s pastor for 30 years. “I think probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is about serving,” Lulu says.  

Her brother Julian says Pastor Florencio is an example of humility, passion, and service. “In watching Pastor Florencio, we have seen him not just stand behind a pulpit, but do lots of other things,” Julian says. “He mixes concrete together. He sweeps, he drives, he does all these things that a servant would do, and we see him doing the things that Jesus did.” 

Lulu says Florencio is like her second father. “I can say 100 percent that his love and his actions are a reflection of God like an extension of God’s hand.”  

Sunday school. Entrance to Myriam Alvarez’s house is by way of an enclosed porch. The space is decorated with artwork depicting Bible verses, a shelf holding craft supplies, and other things you might expect to find in a Sunday school classroom.  

“This porch is a ministry,” she says. From Sunday through Friday, children of various ages come to Myriam’s house for preschool, tutoring, and to learn about Jesus.   

“I do this because I love Jesus and because I love kids,” Myriam says. “And because God said to spread His word. And it’s something that I learned from Pastor Florencio.” 

Myriam has known the Guzman family since she was a child herself, and her family started attending their church. “Florencio and Maria changed my life and took me down a path that maybe I wouldn’t have gone down otherwise.” 

The kids that Myriam is discipling are not only learning themselves but sharing the gospel with their family and friends. In this way, the influence of the Guzman family continues to ripple through generations.  

For example, Johnny Guzman was a small child when his parents joined TMS Global. Today, he and his wife, Marichuy, are global partners with TMS Global, working with Johnny’s parents.

Johnny says the idea for him to help his parents began when he was just eight or nine years old, when TMS Global sent his parents a computer.  

“Every time they went out, I played with it,” Johnny says. “Finally they caught me playing with the computer. But they realized that technology was kind of my thing.” Shortly after, he became his father’s secretary, typing his father’s work on the computer.  

Johnny says Mexicans today need to hear that Jesus is with them, and that they are not alone.  

Marichuy says when it comes to the next 40 years of ministry in Monterrey, “If people know Jesus, then our mission will be completed.” 

God loves you. Florencio and Maria Guzman sit together on a couch in Johnny’s apartment, recounting God’s work in their lives (photo right).  

As a young man Florencio was ready to kill himself when a man showed up at his door and said, “God loves you,” changing Florencio’s life forever. Maria gave up a lucrative position at a global company to attend a newly opened Bible school, now seminary, in Monterrey.  “I wouldn’t change anything,” Maria says.  

Florencio is quick to point out that his life’s work has been a team effort. Any fruit has been the result of many people working together, and above all, Jesus Christ. “He is the Commander in Chief,” Florencio says. “The glory is to him.”  

His advice for new CCWs: “The best thing is to learn how people live and be patient and empathetic with their situation. Above all, love is the more significant thing to consider. The best way to communicate the gospel is to develop friendships with people.”  

Maria notes, “I think the first thing that we need to communicate to people is that we really are interested in them as persons, as individuals.”  

When Florencio first gave his life to Jesus, a pastor told him, “You’ve found Christ, but now you have a mission: to go and share what you’ve found.” Florencio and Maria remain confident they still have a mission to accomplish and still take joy in sharing what they’ve found.

The Guzmans are among hundreds of missionaries (cross-cultural witnesses) who have been sent out by TMS Global, formerly The Mission Society for United Methodists, since its founding in 1984. Good News readers have prayerfully journeyed with us through the decades. We invite you to join us in Atlanta as we celebrate 40 years of God’s faithfulness and look forward to all that he will do in the generation to come. See ad on page 41. 

Jenifer Jones is a communicator for TMS Global ( Photo: Maria and Florencio Guzman. 

Divisions in Africa

Divisions in Africa

Divisions in Africa –

By Thomas Lambrecht – 

Recent meetings have clarified a developing divide in Africa between some bishops and other leaders who want to remain in The United Methodist Church and other leaders who are seeing the need to disaffiliate. The question will be: which group is more in sync with the grass roots clergy and laity of the church in Africa. The answer is that it probably varies from one annual conference to another.

Africa Colleges of Bishops. For a number of years, the bishops from the three central conferences of Africa have been meeting as a single college of bishops, even though the Discipline provides for each central conference to have its own college. In recent years, the combined colleges have issued statements that may or may not reflect the viewpoint of all the bishops of Africa.

Following its meeting ending September 7, the African bishops issued a statement regarding where they stand on disaffiliation and regionalization. The main takeaways from the statement are:

• “Notwithstanding the differences in our UMC regarding the issue of human sexuality especially with our stance of traditional and biblical view of marriage, we categorically state that we do not plan to leave The United Methodist Church and will continue to be shepherds of God’s flock in this worldwide denomination.” The statement goes on to pledge that they will “continue to do ministry in our context as traditionalist[s] in Africa.”

• “We support the ongoing discussion for regionalism, which would ensure that Africans would be accommodated in the way and manners in which we want to worship the Lord.” Regionalization is the proposal coming to the 2024 General Conference creating a U.S. region, along with the seven other central conferences outside the U.S. It would enable each region to become mostly self-governing in many areas of church polity.

• “We support the decision by the Council of Bishops to request General Conference sessions in 2026 and 2028. This will be necessary for smooth transitioning as our denomination emerges from the disruptions of COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of disaffiliations.” The African bishops seem unaware that the Council of Bishops has asked the Judicial Council to reconsider its requirement that a 2026 General Conference be held.

It is not surprising that some African bishops would declare their intention to remain in the UM Church. After all, it is the UM Church that pays their salaries and benefits, along with providing money for many of the mission projects in their annual conferences.

However, expectations of continuing financial largesse from the general church may be disappointing in the future, due to implementing the proposed 40 percent cut in the denomination’s budget.

Additionally, four of the nine active bishops supporting the “remain” statement are heading into retirement next year. They represent the past of the African church, not necessarily its future.

It is also important to note that three of the 12 active bishops did not support the statement. Bishops Kasap (South Congo), Quire (Liberia), and Yohanna (Nigeria) did not make a commitment to remain in the UM Church. Information coming out of the meeting also indicated that only four or five of the nine remaining bishops actually voted for the statement. The rest were reported to have abstained from the vote and then were listed as approving.

Africa Initiative Statement. Not only was there disunity among the African bishops, but there is also disunity between the majority of African bishops and the Africa Initiative (AI), which is the largest organization of African UM leaders that has worked together for the past ten years to promote traditional, orthodox perspectives on theological issues and to empower African participation in the UM Church. Coincidentally, 40 Africa Initiative leaders also met at the same time as the bishops, but in a different country. Their statement indicates sharp differences with those who would remain in the UM Church.

The one thing both groups agree on is the traditional understanding of marriage and human sexuality. The AI statement reads, “Enlightened by the Word of God, we remain steadfast in our convictions that marriage is between one man and one woman, that sexual intimacy is rightfully shared in that context only, and that clergy and all members of the church should either be celibate in singleness or faithful within a heterosexual marriage.” While the majority of bishops purport to also hold a traditional perspective, there is some question whether that is in fact true. Bishop Wandabula presided at the dedication of a Reconciling Ministries church in Nairobi, Kenya. Bishop Mande Muyombo apologized to progressives meeting in Dallas, Texas, for the role African delegates played in passing the Traditional Plan at the 2019 General Conference.

Far from being lip service, Africa Initiative “invite[s] all delegates to join our efforts to raise the voice of the church in Africa against all attempts to liberalize the UM Church’s sexual ethics and ordination standards at the upcoming General Conference.” They intend to organize the delegates for active opposition to the many proposed changes to UM standards.

The AI statement rejects “the proposed regionalization plan, aimed at silencing the voice of the church in Africa. The effect of that plan would be to compartmentalize sin within the UMC and make the African church complicit in allowing the U.S. church to adopt unscriptural teachings and standards.” Some of the bishops see regionalization as a way to preserve African opposition to the practice of homosexuality within a broad church with varying beliefs and standards. In contrast, the AI leaders see regionalization as an unacceptable compromise that associates the African part of the church with teachings and practices in other parts of the world that are contrary to Scripture.

Given the changing situation in the UM Church due to significant disaffiliation of traditionalists in the U.S., the AI leaders are positioning themselves for disaffiliation on that continent, as well. Their statement points to “the current illegal practices within the church, evidenced by the ongoing conduct of same-sex marriages, ordination of LGBTQ persons, and the election and consecration of self-avowed homosexuals as bishops within the UMC [as] reasons why evangelicals/conservatives rightfully seek disaffiliation from the UMC.”

The AI leaders see as their goal “a free, self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating and self-theologizing church, that will take its destiny in its own hands. In one spirit, conviction, and purpose, we will commit to preparing our annual conferences for separation from an increasingly progressive UMC that is regrettably leading the denomination to adopt teachings contrary to Scripture and the historic doctrines of the Christian faith.” They envision each annual conference making “the choice of whether or not to remain independent or affiliate with another Methodist denomination, including the Global Methodist Church.”

Until now, the biggest obstacle to the African church moving toward this goal has been the refusal of its bishops to allow African churches to disaffiliate. The AI statement notes, “We decry the injustice that the existing Paragraph 2553 is not being applied in the Central Conferences, despite the specific language in the paragraph making it effective in 2019. This arbitrary decision by some bishops seeks to prevent African United Methodists from exercising the same right of disaffiliation that our American brothers and sisters have.”

“To correct this injustice, and in view of the above strategic plan, the Africa Initiative has proffered two petitions to the 2020 General Conference [meeting in 2024].” Those petitions are:

• A new Paragraph 2553 that provides “a uniform pathway for local church disaffiliation that applies universally across the church.” This paragraph would enable local churches around the world to all use the same process and meet the same requirements for disaffiliation. It would address the inequities imposed by some annual conferences in the U.S., as well as provide for congregations outside the U.S. to disaffiliate, a pathway that has so far been denied them.

• A new Paragraph 576 that would allow annual conferences outside the U.S. to disaffiliate and align with another Wesleyan denomination. This proposal would streamline and shorten the current disaffiliation process for non-U.S. annual conferences that do not want to become autonomous, but rather join another Wesleyan denomination, including the Global Methodist Church.

There is growing African interest in the possibility of disaffiliation, as the AI statement indicates. Given that U.S. traditionalists will no longer be around in significant numbers to thwart the agenda of U.S. progressives, African leaders are seeing the direction that the UM Church is likely to take. Centrists and progressives alike would endorse the recent statement by Mainstream UMC that, “We are committed to removing the harmful language from the Book of Discipline that targets our LGBTQ siblings.” What they see as “harmful language” is simply upholding the clear, gracious, and comprehensive teaching of Scripture and 2,000 years of church history that sexual intimacy belongs only within the framework of marriage between a man and a woman.

It remains to be seen whether the grass roots of the African church are more in sympathy with the perspective of some of their bishops, who desire to remain United Methodist, or with the AI leaders who see disaffiliation as a matter of principle, disconnecting from a church that is abandoning biblical teaching on marriage and human sexuality. It also remains to be seen whether the General Conference will create equitable pathways allowing the African church to make its own decisions, or whether it would seek to keep Africans trapped in the denomination through economic dependency and heavy-handed rules. Time will tell.

Thomas Lambrecht is a United Methodist clergyman and the vice president of Good News. Photo: Delegates at the 2019 Africa Initiative gathering in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of Africa Initiative.   

Warm Hearts and Extended Hands

Warm Hearts and Extended Hands

Warm Hearts and Extended Hands –

By Kimberly Reisman – 

One of the joys of leading World Methodist Evangelism (WME) is witnessing the transformative work of the Holy Spirit through the worldwide Wesleyan Methodist movement. The children of John Wesley have a unique way of becoming channels of the Spirit, crossing boundaries of geography and tradition to work together for the good of the Kingdom.

Recently WME provided evangelism training and leadership development in both Brazil and Ecuador. These gatherings were exciting times of learning, growth, and celebration as leaders from many manifestations of the Wesleyan Methodist movement joined together to connect, collaborate, and continue to reach out in the spirit of John Wesley.

Each time I gather with the broader family, I become more and more grateful for our Wesleyan heritage. We may differ in culture and language, we may not organize ourselves in the same way, or have identical approaches to worship; but the foundational understandings of grace and holiness that permeate our DNA cut across all those differences – impacting even those outside our tribe, though they may not be aware.

Wesleyan theology is compelling. Several years ago, we provided training in Ukraine, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia. In each of these places, we were joined by Baptists, Presbyterians, and others who were drawn to Wesleyan distinctives such as prevenient grace, sanctification, and Scriptural holiness.

The Wesleyan Methodist family has also been in theological dialogue with the Roman Catholics and I’m reminded of the joy Pope Francis expressed when I met him at the 50th anniversary of those dialogues and told him that I (and Methodists all over the world) was praying for him.

The Wesleyan Methodist movement was launched by a heart strangely warmed, and people have been drawn to Jesus ever since through the continued warm heart of our movement. Wesley was willing to extend his hand to those who shared his heart, even if they didn’t agree on every detail of Christian doctrine.

Recently, we’ve had several new and wonderful examples of the way in which Wesley’s warm heart has extended beyond the confines of the movement he began. The Pope received his Wesley bobble head doll (photo previous page) with as much joy as he received word of my prayers (photo below). And who would have imagined that John Wesley’s picture would grace the big screen in a church in Korea – the largest church in the entire world (photo on page 34)!

I imagine John Wesley is smiling at the thought that the Holy Spirit has used his warm-hearted legacy to impact not only his own movement, but those beyond it. And I pray that his movement, our movement would continue to extend our hands to others as channels of the Holy Spirit so that hearts might be warmed, and lives transformed.

Kimberly Reisman is the Executive Director of World Methodist Evangelism. Dr. Reisman earned her PhD in theology from Durham University in the United Kingdom. Photo is courtesy of Dr. Ted Campbell, Albert C. Outler Professor of Wesley Studies, Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. “On the eve of Aldersgate Day (May 24), here’s how John Wesley showed up last week at the largest Christian church in the world – the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, with ca. 800,000 members,” reported Dr. Campbell. “The pastor of the congregation, Young Hoon Lee, has explicitly identified this Pentecostal (‘full gospel’) congregation as part of the broader family of Wesleyan churches – that’s what he was saying when he showed this slide – and he and the congregation sponsored a meeting of Wesleyan (Methodist/Holiness/Fourfold Gospel/Pentecostal) leaders at Yoido.” The pastor attended Dr. Campbell’s lecture on Puritan and Wesleyan ways of describing the “way of salvation.”

Gulp of Forgiveness

Gulp of Forgiveness

Gulp of Forgiveness –

By B.J. Funk –

Nowhere is the sting of hurt more prominent than in your church.

Pain received is more hurtful in church because it’s just not supposed to happen there. That’s the one place we can count on to be filled with love. That’s the one place we can go where love should move from pew to pew in such a way that we leave feeling more filled with the Spirit of God than when we came in.

But that’s not always what happens. And if you are the recipient of that hurt, something inside of you dies. Sometimes the pain is so real that you don’t want to go back. Though you try not to, you dwell on the hurt daily, questioning more and more how this person who hurt you does not recognize the impact of the hurt she/he has given you. It was personal. It was deliberate. It had the power to suck life away from you.

That’s how I felt when it happened to me. I struggled with a thorn in my flesh called unforgiveness. The things I knew didn’t matter. What did I know? I knew that I could not teach God’s Word if my heart was in the sewer of unforgiveness. I knew that I could not hide the foul smell of the gutter unless I escaped that stench. I knew I had to be a clean vessel in order for the Holy Spirit to use me. I knew all of that. It didn’t matter. I was hurt, and hurt by any name is still hurt. It jumps into your heart with a deceptive grin, saying “You’re right. He’s wrong. Stand up for yourself.”

I prayed daily. Hourly. Consistently. “God, show me what to do. Talk to me. Please give me guidance.”

One night before I went to bed, a scripture came to mind. Suddenly. Out of nowhere. Before I closed my eyes in sleep, I recalled, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

“Oh, I think this person did know, Lord. It was intentional. Manipulative. Targeted. Personal.” Then I went to sleep.

I don’t know how to explain to you what happened next. I guess I could say that during the night, I had a visitor. My mind wasn’t involved and that was good because then I could not argue with the thoughts implanted in my spirit. It had to have been a Holy Spirit encounter. An encounter that needed my brain to hush. Explaining this in simple terms, I think the Holy Spirit brought a broom, mop, suds, scrubbing brush, and Clorox and worked on me while I slept. The Holy Spirit cleaned out the debris of unforgiveness that I harbored. When I awoke the next morning, I immediately knew I was different. The tumor of unforgiveness was gone!

A definition on forgiveness jumped into my heart: “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

When my brain struggles with this definition, I win the contest between right and wrong every time.  Simply put, I am right.  My brain has an extensive list to combat the actions of the perpetrator. A list of all the things this person has intentionally done to hurt me. When my brain gets involved, I do have the right. I can bring out that numbered list and go straight down it, one by one, reminding myself why I can hold that unforgiveness until the other party confesses and comes to me to repent.

News flash.  Excuse my language, but “that ain’t happening.”

I got out of bed that morning feeling lighter. I was no longer living with the unforgiveness tumor. I felt wonderful. I felt free.

The thought that jumped in my head was: You just had a gulp of forgiveness

Ahhhh yes. It was a large gulp. A refreshing gulp. A gulp of freedom.  Layer after layer of unforgiveness slipped off of me as I moved around my home. I knew something beautiful and dramatic had happened.

Thank you my “always there for me Jesus.” Thank you for not holding it against me while I had the tumor.

Thank you for loving me enough to take it away. Thank you, Jesus.

B.J. Funk is Good News’ long-time devotional columnist and author of  It’s A Good Day for Grace, available on Amazon.

Global Methodism’s Nationwide Roll-Out

Global Methodism’s Nationwide Roll-Out

Global Methodism’s Nationwide Roll-Out –

By Walter Fenton –

With the recent authorizations of a transitional district advisory team (TDAT) in Virginia and one covering nine western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington), the Global Methodist Church is now operating or organizing in all 50 states in the U.S.

Transitional district advisory teams and transitional conference advisory teams (TCATs) are composed of clergy and laity who work together to create provisional districts and provisional annual conferences that connect GM local churches in their regions. In the U.S., the GM Church now has 12 operating provincial annual conferences and one provisional district. Over the next several months the Church plans to celebrate the launch of four more provisional annual conferences and two provisional districts in the country.

Clergy and Laity in the heart of Texas were among some of the first groups to move from the status of a TCAT to becoming an official provisional annual conference of the GM Church. After several months of organizing, the Mid-Texas Provisional Annual Conference commenced operations on November 1, 2022, and then in January of this year held its convening annual conference in Waco, Texas.

“Creating an annual conference was not something any of us had done before. It was simultaneously exciting, challenging, and frustrating,” said the Rev. Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory, the President Pro Tem of the Mid-Texas Conference, and a member of the GM Church’s Transitional Leadership Council. “Working with the GM Church’s Transitional Leadership Council we had to figure out everything from onboarding local churches and pastors to properly incorporating the conference in the state of Texas. What helped us move forward was the cooperation we received from The United Methodist Church’s Central Texas Annual Conference. The conference created two opportunities for local churches to disaffiliate under fair and reasonable terms.”

Where UM Church disaffiliation or withdrawal terms were reasonable, TCATs or TDATs were able to gather enough local churches together to help launch provisional conferences or districts. Many of these were initially in the south central and southeastern parts of the U.S. where UM bishops and annual conferences adopted an amicable and orderly process for leaving the denomination.

“I feel bad for sisters and brothers in some other UM Church annual conferences where exiting the denomination is nearly impossible,” said Hidde-Gregory. “The terms are unduly onerous and expensive, particularly in much of the northeastern and western parts of the country. Given the circumstances, it’s no surprise standing-up a GM Church provisional conference or district is taking more time in those areas.”

The GM Church has made it a priority to work with local leaders in the U.S. and around the world to create provisional conferences or districts as soon as possible. Over 3,200 local churches have already joined the fledgling denomination, and Church leaders believe more will do so before the end of the year. They believe it is critical to get local churches connected with other congregations and introduce them to local leaders who can answer questions and help them navigate challenges.

Six of the twelve U.S. provisional annual conferences have held convening conferences, complete with ordination services. Most of the other conferences have held large gatherings with worship and workshops as they plan for their own convening annual conferences. According to local and general GM Church leaders, attendance at the conferences and gatherings has been strong and enthusiastic.

“The joy I have witnessed at GM Church convening annual conferences, ordination services, and other gatherings have been among the most Holy Spirit filled events I have ever had the privilege of being a part of in all my years of ministry,” said Bishop Scott J. Jones.

Jones, along, with Bishop Mark J. Webb (pictured below), are the GM Church’s two active bishops. They currently share the responsibility of presiding at all annual conferences in the U.S. and around the world, and they work closely with provisional annual conference leaders, and the TCATs and TDATs that are in the process of organizing conferences and districts.

“Our DNA as Methodists is connectional,” said Webb. “It has its practical dimensions, but far more importantly it binds us together as the body of Christ. It celebrates and gives life to the way congregations work together to support one another, share resources, and carry out mission and ministry. Despite all the challenges we have faced, I am finding that GM local churches long for authentic connectionalism. They want to be part of an annual conference or a provisional district, so we’re doing all we can to get them connected as soon as possible.”

Undoubtedly, the most challenging region for organizing is in the Western U.S. For decades, the UM Church’s Western Jurisdiction has experienced steady decline, and it is widely regarded as the denomination’s most progressive region. Over the years, many conservative UM members left the denomination, taking a toll on the number of traditionalist local churches in the jurisdiction. Many of those remaining are now seeking to disaffiliate from the UM Church but are confronting some of the most difficult disaffiliation terms in the denomination.

The Rev. Mark Maddox, Lead Pastor at Journey Global Methodist Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Ms. Kathy Cosner at Silverdale Community Church, in Bremerton, Washington, are co-leaders of the 24-member Western States Transitional District Advisory Team. Stretching from Alaska to Arizona, and Utah to Hawaii, the region is easily the largest and most challenging area where the GM Church is currently organizing.

“Creating a GM Church connectional structure in the West poses unique problems,” said Maddox. “But we’re approaching it like climbing one of our great mountains – one step at a time. We have a great team that is realistic about the challenges, but we are also very passionate about seeing the Global Methodist Church flourish in the Western States.”

The team meets regularly by video calls, and it has created various sub-committees to complete the necessary work to stand-up a provisional district. Working closely with Bishop Webb, the team’s first goal is to gather at least 30 local churches so it can seek approval to launch a provisional district. Generally, the GM Church’s Transitional Leadership Council requires a minimum of 30 local churches to launch a district and 120 to start a provisional annual conference.

“We want to help local churches and small groups meeting in houses get connected as soon possible, so we’re aiming for provisional district status first,” said Cosner. “We all know the challenges we face, but we also know Jesus’s Great Commission. The Western States are wide open for growth, and we intend to help local churches disaffiliate and join the GMC, plant new ones, and just multiply churches from there. We are confident our brothers and sisters around the country will partner with us as we reintroduce a warm-hearted, Wesleyan expression of the Christian faith in the West!”

Walter Fenton is the Global Methodist Church’s Deputy Connectional Officer. You can read news reports and developments from Rev. Fenton at Photo: In January 2023, Melissa Neal Castleberry was ordained a deacon into the Global Methodist Church. From The Church at Greens Creek, in Dublin, Texas, she was the first person in the world to be ordained into the GMC. Photo: Maddie Forrester.

Laborers for the Harvest

Laborers for the Harvest

Laborers for the Harvest –

By Scott J. Jones – 

Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

God is doing a new thing in the Methodist movement by forming the Global Methodist Church. God is calling men and women to serve as laborers in the mission field. We know that disciples who follow Jesus need to belong to a local church. And we know that local churches need preachers who will proclaim the gospel, administer the sacraments, teach the faith and order the life of the church.

The apostle Paul put it clearly in Romans 10:14-15 saying, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”

God is raising up and sending a new generation of clergy to participate in this Wesleyan movement. Praise the Lord!

In just eight months, I have participated in sixteen different provisional annual conference sessions this year, including the preliminary gatherings that were preparations for the formation of provisional annual conferences. Most of them have included services of ordination, and as of late August, I have ordained or assisted in ordaining 440 women and men. And I have four more ordination services scheduled between now and the end of the year! A recent photograph from the North Alabama Annual Conference included the 68 persons I ordained and those who had transferred in from other denominations. Seeing such a crowd gives one confidence about the future leadership of the Global Methodist Church.

Each of these ordinations is special to the person being ordained and their family. Some of these persons are recent graduates of seminary. Others have served as licensed local pastors for decades. Some were qualified as elders but rejected as too conservative for their former denomination. Others were deacons who now feel called to be elders in addition to being deacons.

For each of these persons I would have preferred the opportunity to get to know them and their story better than I do. But one in particular stands out. Josh Groce was called into ministry as a second career. He was still a young man. He received his call while he, his wife, Alicia, and their two children were members of Hernando United Methodist Church in Hernando, Mississippi. He attended Asbury Theological Seminary and joined the staff of his church. Given the turmoil within his denomination, he delayed ordination until his church voted to disaffiliate. He then applied and was approved for ordination in the Global Methodist Church.

Tragically, Alicia was diagnosed with rapidly advancing ALS syndrome. Earlier this year it became clear that she would not have long to live. But she had supported her husband through his call to ministry and his theological education and she wanted to see him ordained. The Mississippi-West Tennessee Transitional Conference Advisory Team asked if I would ordain Josh in a special worship service. So on April 18, with members of the TCAT and the Hernando Methodist Church present, I ordained Josh as both deacon and elder. Alicia and their children were present. She died August 5 at the age 35.

Despite major challenges, both personal and corporate, God is raising up clergy for the Wesleyan movement in general and the Global Methodist Church in particular. It is a great privilege to be part of that process in which the Holy Spirit is working!

Three points about clergy leadership should be emphasized. Like other Wesleyan denominations, the GM Church believes in education, certification, and ordination for its clergy.

While John Wesley described himself as homo unius libri, a man of one book, he also insisted that his clergy should read many books and study to improve their preaching and leadership. For many years Methodist preachers followed a course of study. With the founding of seminaries, a system of formal education was established for clergy. The GM Church continues to value educated pastors, so it requires those who hear a call to ministry to pursue a formal education by attending seminary or availing themselves of other pathways the denomination has approved.

In addition to the educational requirements, each candidate must pass through a certification process. That process begins at the local church level, then involves critical engagement with an annual conference board of ministry, and culminates in a vote of approval for ordination by an annual conference’s clergy session.

Finally, the GM Church, like most Methodist denominations, has an episcopal form of church governance. Therefore a bishop (the title comes from the New Testament Greek word, episkopos) has the solemn duty and honor of ordaining approved clergy candidates for service in the church. The GM Church’s ordination liturgy involves the bishop examining the candidates in front of the whole conference. The bishop speaks about leadership in God’s church and the specific tasks of deacons and elders. The ordinands are asked for their commitments to preach the gospel and maintain the church’s faith. Then the bishop lays hands on each person’s head and prays that the Holy Spirit might be poured out on him or her for the office and work of their new status. And in the case of an elder, the bishop invites the ordinand to take authority to preach the gospel, administer the sacraments, and order the life of the church. That episcopal ordination connects the newly ordained clergyperson back to John Wesley through the chain of bishops ordained by him in 1784.

It is a joyful and awesome experience for the whole church to participate in ordination services. Men and women come forward believing God has called them to serve as clergy. Mentors have walked alongside them as they continued to discern that call. Teachers have enriched, challenged, and tested them as they have grown in faith and wisdom. And boards of ministry affirmed their calls through close examination and prayer. It is no wonder ordinands and bishops approach the altar with fear and trembling and often tears of joy at ordination services. It is a mighty thing to be ordained by a bishop and then sent forth as a humble laborer in God’s great work to redeem the world through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Bishop Scott J. Jones is an episcopal leader in the Global Methodist Church ( Reprinted by permission. Photo: Bishop Scott Jones and the newly ordained clergy of the North Alabama Global Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of the North Alabama Global Methodist Church.