Early each December, the Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA) gathers. I appreciate this roundtable of denominational leaders who lead Holiness/Wesleyan denominations of all sizes.
The Salvation Army hosted us this year at its national headquarters in Washington, District of Columbia. We visited the Museum of the Bible, with a personal tour by Steve Green who has provided formative leadership of the museum since its beginning. Steve repeatedly and confidently referenced the truth of Hebrews 4:12 that “the word of God is alive and active,” and “if you communicate the fact that it is true and good, and tell the inspired story it contains, you can trust it to accomplish God’s purposes.”
Free Methodist Church Bishop Linda Adams shared a devotional on Mary, the mother of Jesus. I pondered afterwards the questions posed in the carol “Mary, Did You Know?” which might be answered by Linda with “she may not have been as surprised as often assumed.”
Commissioners Kenneth G. and Jolene K. Hodder are the national commander and national secretary for Program for The Salvation Army in the United States. My notes on Kenneth’s “Current Realities and Trends” comments shared with the GWA include:
- A pervasive “crisis of trust” is creating a trust deficit. Being completely trustworthy isn’t enough to overcome erosive distrust permeating our culture and its institutions but it is our part in rebuilding it.
- There is no longer a “membrane” between what happens in the church and what is known in the broader culture. Anything quoted or misquoted in church is known; everyone is talking to everyone through social media. The goal is not to try to control the narrative, the goal is living out the full gospel and calling others to covenant to do the same.
- The pandemic and polarization aren’t an interruption to the ministry, but our moment in time to intentionally embrace the mission for the sake of the gospel!
We also heard an insightful presentation by Dan Turner and Tim Fox titled, “ReStart — Helping Churches in Severe Decline to Find New Life,” in a time when many are especially fragile rather than flourishing. Tim is the district superintendent of The Wesleyan Church’s South Coastal District.
Newly elected executive director of the Wesleyan Holiness Connection, Bishop John Mark Richardson, Sr., joined us via Zoom. The Wesleyan Holiness Connection is a sister organization of the GWA.
While we were meeting in Washington, the Respect for Marriage Act was being debated in Congress. I recalled our declaration of unity at the 14th General Conference that we “affirm that God’s only design for marriage is between one man and one woman.” This denominational leadership meeting and the congressional debate seemed a fitting context for our GWA roundtable where we discussed our common beliefs and values on this and other issues.
I share this information with you as a reminder, and I pray an encouragement, that God is still active and in control, Wesleyans are not alone or unique, and that our mission must continue in all areas and through all circumstances.
For a summary of the Respect for Marriage Act and other religious freedom resources, visit https://resources.wesleyan.org/religious-freedom.
Dr. Wayne Schmidt is General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church.