What will the future of Methodism and the Global Methodist Church have in store for the rest of 2023?

I would like to take a moment and share some topics which may be given clarity over the next several months.

Let Me Be Clear

Let me be clear, this is not a criticism of the Transitional Leadership Council or our Bishops. They have done an amazing job of working incredibly hard to get a new denomination up and running. This also is not an attempt to pressure anyone to make decisions any quicker than they feel led. 

I also want to highlight that this is a conversation about larger church administration. While we still have important work to do in the wider arena, I celebrate that we have hundreds of churches and thousands of Methodists who are disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly. We have provisional annual conferences on four different continents. 

We have men and women clergy who are appropriately credentialed, have health insurance and pensions. We have pastors who are “responsible for ensuring that members are cared for by implementing a discipleship process focused on helping members to ‘go on to perfection’ by loving God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and by loving their neighbor as themselves. They are charged with equipping all the members of a congregation to be in ministry by meeting people at their point of need and offering them Jesus.”

We have significant governance with our Transitional Book of Doctrine and Discipline with accountability from the Transitional Leadership Council and our Presidents Pro Tempore (acting in similar roles of bishops). 

The larger church work to be done should not keep us from singing praises to the Lord for the great things happening.

Sneak Peak

Even with all the mission and ministry happening, there are some important chores we need to do before our first convening conference. I am looking forward to clarity around these areas.

#1 Convening Conference Date and Location

At some point there will be a historic convening conference in which delegates representing all the Global Methodist Church from around the world will come together. Much is still to be decided about this conference. I have not seen any clear confirmation on the date (please correct me if I am wrong).

During an interview on Dr. Sterling Allen’s Show Thursday Night Live transitional connectional officer Rev. Keith Boyette said, “we won’t be in a place to hold the convening general conference most likely until the spring of 2025.”1 However, there are others hoping for a 2024 date.

I would like to humbly offer up Glennville, Georgia as the location for the convening conference.

A more serious possibility are cities with international airports to help our overseas brothers and sisters. It is also not outside the realm of possibility that we could hold the convening conference outside of the United States as a way of cementing the global nature of our church.

#2 Annual Conference Sizes and/or Geography

How large will an annual conference be? Will the size of the annual conference be measured by geography, number of churches, number of members or some sort of combination of the three. 

This would be helpful to know for administrative purposes. If a transitional annual conference wants to expand or pair up with another conference how would they accomplish this? On the other hand, if an annual conference needs more episcopal oversight how could that be accomplished? Would there be room to appoint an auxiliary bishop to assist an area with a bishop already? Would a conference need to split if it needs more episcopal leadership?

#3 The Role of Bishops

The role of bishops is ongoing. I’ve been impressed with all the interviews I have seen with our bishops so far. I thought Bishop Webb was candid in an interview with John Lomperis:

“One thing I think that Bishop [Scott] Jones, Bishop [Emeritus Mike] Lowry, and I all agree on is that we are not interested in continuing a royal episcopacy. We believe that the role of Bishop, the role of the episcopacy [in] the Global Methodist Church, must be first and foremost a model of servant leadership. And then it needs to be a model where Bishops…defend the faith, cast vision for the church, and come alongside others to help equip them […] to be a part of what God’s already doing uh in their lives. And helping to stir up the gifts that the Holy Spirit has already placed within them to carry out the mission in this transitional time.

You know I keep reminding folks that the convening conference will have a conversation about the role of the episcopacy. The convening conference of the GMC will take what is in the transitional book of doctrines and disciplines, they will add to it, they’ll delete from it [and] they’ll keep some of it the same. So I think the nature of the episcopacy is yet to be fully formed or shaped in the global Methodist church. I’m fully aware that you know in this season all I can focus on […] and I think our commitment as Bishops right now is to try to help lay foundation and groundwork for the things that we want to see move forward moving forward initially and in this season.”2

In Multiplying Methodism Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway and Bishop Mike Lowery lay down some admiral aspirations: 

“We strongly recommend a redefinition of the episcopacy from that of institutional maintenance and leadership–to reclaiming the teaching office of the church… the role of Bishop in the Global Methodist Church will be primarily spiritual–teaching the faith, ordaining clergy, and fixing appointments–but the operational leadership of the more temporal affairs will be delegated to a Connectional Operating Officer.”3

Rev. Dr. David F Watson has nine powerful revisions to the office of Bishop in his Firebrand Article “A Spirit of Governance”: On Bishops in the Global Methodist Church.

In his third point Watson says, “we should not conceive of bishops primarily as managers. We should not hobble them with unending bureaucratic responsibilities. Rather, we should conceive of bishops as pastors, evangelists, and defenders of the faith. The bishop is an office within the order of elders, and the Spirit of governance God pours out upon bishops is for the church’s spiritual care. Let business managers handle business. Let attorneys handle the law. Let bishops lead the church in word, sacrament, and order.”4

#4 The Election of Bishops

The process for electing bishops is still not clear. In the former denomination the elections happened in the jurisdictional (regional) conferences. 

Again from Multiplying Methodism the argument is made:

“We recommend the elimination of jurisdictional conferences (which are the residue of institutional racism and the source of the move to regionalized expressions of faith in the United Methodist Church), and that bishops be elected at the General Conference. We recommended bishops be elected for a maximum 12-year term, and if the bishop is not of retirement age, their title is ‘Bishop Emeritus’ when their term ends, and they return to serve a local church.”5

Election at the General Conference is a fascinating possibility. Will there be time to approve the process of electing bishops and have elections in the same convening conference? 

#5 The Election of Delegates to the Convening Conference

The process for electing delegates to the convening conference needs to be formalized. It could be as simple as the Transitional Leadership Council asking each conference to develop their plan. However, there will need to be a way to determine how many delegates each area gets.

In conclusion, I have full confidence in our leadership structure in the GMC. We certainly have a firm foundation laid. The future is bright and will only get better as we get clarity on these topics.


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1 Global Methodist Church Thursday Night Live. GMC Thursday Night Live State of the Church 2022 with Rev. Dr. Sterling Allen & Rev. Keith Boyette. Youtube. Rev. Dr. Allen, Sterling. Posted November 17, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFjXkU3pQgc

2 The IRD. Global Methodist Bishop Mark Webb interview with John Lomperis. Youtube. Lomperis, John. Posted January 18th, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVuHVm_fzhM&t=1045s

3 Greenway, Jeffrey E., and Mike Lowry. Multiplying Methodism: A Bold Witness of Wesleyan Faith at the Dawn of the Global Methodist Church. 313 Publishing, 2022. p.111-112

4 Watson, David F. “‘A Spirit of Governance’: On Bishops in the Global Methodist Church.” Firebrand Magazine, Jan. 2023, https://firebrandmag.com/articles/a-spirit-of-governance-on-bishops-in-the-global-methodist-church?rq=bishop.

5 Greenway, Jeffrey E., and Mike Lowry. Multiplying Methodism: A Bold Witness of Wesleyan Faith at the Dawn of the Global Methodist Church. 313 Publishing, 2022. p.111

On January 11th, 2023 the Global Methodist Church announced that “United Methodist Bishop Scott Jameson Jones, the former leader of the UM Church’s Great Plains and Houston Episcopal Areas, has resigned from the episcopacy of the church and withdrawn from the denomination. Jones was received into the Global Methodist Church as an elder on January 9, 2023.”

The article went on to say that Bishop Jones has been appointed a bishop in the Global Methodist Church. This is the second bishop to move from the United Methodist Church to the Global Methodist Church this year.

Bishop Jones is recognized as a renowned Wesleyan scholar. I’ve taught his study, The Wesleyan Way, in churches I have served. In seminary I read his book on United Methodist doctrine.

What makes this move significant is the work Bishop Jones did as a United Methodist Bishop. Bishop Jones had positioned himself as someone who wanted to hold the extreme center position theologically.. In his book on United Methodist doctrine the title is United Methodist Doctrine: The Extreme Center

In United Methodist Doctrine: The Extreme Center he says, “At its best, United Methodist doctrine holds together a number of concerns in dynamic and mutually reinforcing tension. On the theological spectrum Wesley occupies the extreme center, and his approach has shaped the church’s doctrine” (19).

Bishop Jones also has leaned into this centrist branding on his website called extremecenter.com.

Finally, Bishop Jones expanded his ideas in a book of essays called Stay at the Table where he dialogues with other Methodist thinkers.

Yet, Bishop Jones has made the decision to leave the United Methodist Church and join the Global Methodist Church. By moving he is demonstrating how his views align better in the Global Methodist Church. This more than any person moving. This is the extreme center poster child himself moving out.

Bishop Jones said recently “The Global Methodist Church represents traditional Methodism with a strong focus on reaching new people for the gospel… It is a new start that will help clergy and congregations move past the disputes of the last several years and focus on our mission. I am excited about forming disciples who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly.”

Bishop Jones has been gracious about his time in the UMC which I believe is the right tract to take. I am grateful he is bringing his strong leadership, deep doctrinal standards, and episcopal oversight to the Global Methodist Church.

David Wesley Donnan is a Methodist pastor in South Georgia.

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