First Wave of GMC Conferences Launched

By Chassity Neckers –

Bishop Mark Webb of the newly-formed Global Methodist Church recently wrote about being in an airport and seeing a book entitled The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing. He didn’t buy the book (so it’s not a recommendation), but he did take note of a thesis summary:

“Moments of breakthrough are not where life’s greatest transformation happens; the stuff that God uses to shape us often lies in the in-between. It is the bus stops and layovers and DMV lines and moments of unintentional pause that force us to become better people. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of epiphany. There are. It’s just that most of us find ourselves living somewhere in the in-between,” the summary stated. “Learning to live in this tension, to be content in these moments of waiting, may be our greatest struggle – and our greatest opportunity to grow.”

In what may prove to be a lengthy and drawn-out process for some United Methodist congregations in some annual conferences, this is an “in-between” season of time. Congregations and clergy have been working through the discernment process regarding disaffiliating from the denomination.

More than 2,000 local churches have either begun or completed the process of disaffiliation. Of that number, more than three-quarters of those congregations have aligned  with the Global Methodist Church. Hundreds more are in the process.    

Bishop Webb points out that the Bible has a lot to say about living in the “in-between.” Found in its pages are the stories of “God’s people experiencing seasons of wandering, waiting, and wondering. Sometimes these in-between times led to confusion, fear, wallowing in self-pity, and murmuring against God, while other times they created a spirit of expectation and a season of preparation,” he wrote. “No matter the response, every in-between time led to a new movement of God in the lives of those willing to surrender in faith and follow.” Counted within the “new movement of God” are those local congregations that have moved from the in-between.

Convening Conferences Launched. The first wave of convening conferences of the fledgling Global Methodist Church took place in three locations in Texas in January and February. They paved the way for many others to follow them. Provisional annual conferences are being created during this transitional period before the new denomination’s convening General Conference to organize its work globally.

“As Global Methodists, it is our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, the Transitional Connectional Coordinating Officer of the  Global Methodist Church. “Our annual conferences are designed to be an extension of that mission. In the GM Church, the real work of the annual conference begins when we come together for worship and prayer – crying out for revival and seeking God’s healing in our lives and commitment to our shared ministry.”

According to the GM Church’s Transitional Book of Doctrine and Discipline, these convening conferences are created “for the purposes of coordinating and conducting the mission of the Church around the world.” Those purposes include the ordination of clergy and discerning God’s will together through conversation and the casting of votes that help unite the connection.

“Personal faith formation, shaped in accountable disciple groups, is essential to authentic connection,” observed Bishop Scott Jones of the Global Methodist Church. “It is in moments of prayer, worship, and Bible study where the church is strengthened for its outward mission. When hundreds of Global Methodists joined together in January and early February these were the core convictions of their gatherings.”

The Mid-Texas Provisional Annual Conference’s first gathering was held in Waco, Texas. Conference leaders devoted the majority of the time at the two-day gathering to preaching, teaching, and prayer. They dedicated only one hour to approve budgets and various annual conference positions.

The historic conference celebrated the 90 congregations located in its region and ordained 28 men and women for service in the church. “We had such high expectations – and God exceeded everything we had thought could possibly happen,” said the Rev. Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory, leader of the Mid-Texas Annual Conference of the Global Methodist Church. “To God be all glory for the great things he has done and he is doing.”

The West Plains Provisional Annual Conference held its convening conference in Lubbock, Texas. “We love Jesus, we love his church, and we believe that God isn’t done with the people called Methodist and that the best years of the Christian movement begun by the Wesley [brothers] are still, in fact, ahead of us,” the Rev. Dr. Jessica LaGrone told the assembly. LaGrone is Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and a member of the GM Church’s Transitional Leadership Council.

The East Texas Provisional Annual Conference was held in College Station, Texas. The new provisional annual conference ordained 90 clergypersons and welcomed 254 Global Methodist congregations in its region. Like the other convening conferences, the East Texas Annual Conference held a limited business session, providing additional time throughout the two-day gathering for worship, prayer, and connection.

The East Texas Provisional Annual Conference also made space for learning with a variety of workshops. The workshops included sessions on evangelism, small group discipleship, the new GM Church catechism, social witness, and worship.

While the Global Methodist Church is deeply rooted in the history of Methodism, the provisional annual conferences have embraced the Church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly. GMC leaders pledged that denominational structures support congregations as they reach the world for Jesus.

From the testimony of those who participated, the convening of GM Church provisional annual conferences was a joyous and historical moment for the fledgling denomination. For the first time, people in these areas gathered to celebrate and begin a journey together as Global Methodists. The three Texas provisional annual conferences join two others in the United States – North Carolina and South Georgia – and four provisional bodies outside the United States in Bulgaria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, and Slovakia.

Chassity Neckers is a freelance writer who lives in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. She is also a member of the Global Methodist Church’s Indiana Transitional Conference Advisory Team.

Prayers offered over the leaders of the new church start congregations in Eastern Texas Conference of the Global Methodist Church. Its Convening Conference was held at Christ Church in College Station, Texas. Photo courtesy of Camile Fenner and the Global Methodist Church.


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