A new member, Rhea Bell, joined The Wesleyan Church General Board for its 138th session, November 13-14, 2018, representing the Northeastern Area. Bell serves as the worship arts director at LifePoint Church in Waldorf, Maryland.

Bell volunteered at LifePoint for many years before joining its staff. Her previous professional experience includes serving in United States government for more than 13 years in various capacities including U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Human Resources specialist. Bell was selected as one of three civilians for the USCP Inaugural Task Force serving with ranking officials, sergeants and above, to plan the most recent Presidential Inauguration. She worked with various government agencies including Secret Service, Border Patrol, National Guard, FBI, on logistics and guest safety. Bell worked for FEMA before transitioning to USCP.

Former district superintendent of the East Michigan District and current regional specialist in the Great Lakes District Richard Meeks presented a commander’s coin reminding the board members that all are part of the same mission.

Reverend Maria Acuna, pastor at the La Gran Comisión Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio, was elected by the General Board as a clergy representative for the North Central Area.

Memorial 66, adopted at the 2016 General Conference, called for the General Board to appoint a working group consisting of pastors and scholars to review the membership commitment on speaking in tongues, as stated in paragraph 265:9 of The Discipline, and to bring a recommendation to the 2020 General Conference. A working group elected with the expectation to report to the General Board in November 2019 is comprised of District Superintendent of the Northeast District Karl Eastlack, chair, National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church of Canada Stephen Elliott and Dean of Wesley Seminary Abson Joseph. A local pastor and either a global or multiethnic person will be added.

“Unleashed,” the 2020 General Conference theme, was announced by General Secretary Janelle Vernon. The theme symbolizes the unleashing of The Wesleyan Church (TWC) in accord with the Holy Spirit to become a kingdom force movement to fill the Gospel Gap. The conference tag line is “so all can be made new.” General Conference 2020 will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, from May 31 to June 3.

Vernon also gave a report on the vote by the 2018 General Conference of the Wesleyan Holiness Church of the Caribbean to approve the constitutional amendments initiated by the 2016 North American General Conference and previously approved by the 2017 General Conference of The Wesleyan Church of the Philippines. The Caribbean vote of 71-0 on the Article on Marriage and Family and their vote of 70-1 on the Article on Sin, added to the previous votes, make an aggregate total vote of 550-1 on the Marriage and Family amendment and 551-2 on the Article on Sin. Thus, both amendments to the Essentials in the Charter of the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church were approved by more than the required two-thirds vote.

Potential district mergers in 2019 were reviewed. Superintendent Matt Pickering provided perspective related to Central New York and Western Pennsylvania. Superintendents Dan Bickel and Chris Conrad spoke about the possibility of merging Wisconsin and Great Lakes.

The General Board approved the Hephzibah report provided by Executive Director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship Anita Eastlack and Acting Director of Hephzibah Ministries Sherry Gorveatte which included vision cast for ministry direction based on the mission statement: “Empowering and mobilizing local Wesleyan churches to transform the lives of vulnerable children.” Kim Gladden, director of discipleship for The Wesleyan Church, added information about the proposed ministry action plan. Jerry Lumston, vice-chair of the Hephzibah Board, spoke about the financial plan for Hephzibah.

Global Partners Executive Director Dennis Jackson gave an update including the progress of the Ibero-America Established Regional Conference. He also presented, along with Jarvis Ferguson, former Ibero-America Area director, a resolution regarding the Mexico Established National Conference. Jackson announced that the theme for the 2019 International Conference of The Wesleyan Church is “From Everywhere to Everywhere.”

Chief Financial Officer Kevin Batman provided an annual report for The Wesleyan Church. TWC received a clean internal control report with no deficiencies or material weaknesses noted.

Chief Executive Officer Craig Dunn presented the Wesleyan Investment Foundation (WIF) annual report. WIF has loans out to over 1298 churches including Wesleyan, Nazarene, Church of Christ in Christian Union, Evangelical Methodists, Church of God (Anderson), Evangelical Missionary, Evangelical Church of North America, Free Methodist and Pilgrim Holiness.

The Wesleyan Worship Project, partnership initiative between Josh Lavender, worship director at Trinity Wesleyan Church, Fishers, Indiana, Church Multiplication and Discipleship and Wesleyan Publishing House, provided a concert featuring Wesleyan worship songs written by Wesleyan worship leaders.

A panel discussion focusing on discipleship trends and specific models involved Jeff Clark, men’s basketball associate head coach at Indiana Wesleyan University; Phill Tague, lead pastor of The Ransom Church in Sioux Falls, S.D.; Jon Wiest, multiplication pastor at Trinity Church in Indianapolis, and Kim Gladden, director of discipleship for The Wesleyan Church.

“I am thankful to chair a General Board that fulfills its responsibilities, even the difficult ones, with interaction full of grace and truth, and a common desire to act in the best interests of the Church and of those involved,” said General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt. “I am also thankful for you, your ministry, your faith and your continued prayers for The Wesleyan Church as we collectively fulfill our mission of ‘Transforming Lives, Churches and Communities through the Hope and Holiness of Jesus Christ.’”

The 139th Session of the General Board is scheduled for May 7 and 8, 2019.