CRISIS WHILE ANTICIPATING A NEW METHODIST EXPRESSION
By Dr. Riley B. Case
There is a lot of uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses are closed; school campuses are closed; the economy is suffering; people are anxious about an uncertain future. The uncertainty spills over into the church where worship for many has moved to online formats. Within The United Methodist Church Annual Conferences are announcing they will probably not be meeting and General Conference has already been postponed to 2021. If the churches are not gathering regularly for worship and study and fellowship how will this affect the spiritual support the church offers to believers? And how will this affect the financial support that allows the church to provide services to their congregants as well as those in need far beyond a Sunday morning service?
As a people we are being forced to come together to abate the threat of the COVID-19 virus. For The United Methodist Church this is the time to choose to work together toward a gracious and respectful separation that honors and values all God’s people. Once the pandemic has been quelled, there will still be division in the ranks of United Methodists because of differences over such matters as the definition of marriage and standards of sexual morality. The actions of the special General Conference of February 2019 became effective as of January 1, 2020. Those actions support the church’s historical stance on human sexuality and added some accountability measures. Yet some conferences, a number of bishops and others have declared they will defy the
and the order of the church and ordain whom they wish and define marriage the way they wish. This has resulted in continued open defiance of the General Conference’s decisions.
And so, we pray. We pray for God’s deliverance from the pandemic; we pray for the ensuing difficult recovery, financial and otherwise, which for many persons from many countries will be difficult; we pray for the Church to be God’s agent for physical and spiritual help in the ordeal; we also pray for those United Methodists who are seeking to lead us through our own denomination’s internal problems that will still require resolution when this pandemic is over.
The next Happenings will provide more detailed information about the progress that has and will continue to be made toward the creation of a new denomination. Until then, please stay healthy and show the love of God to those around you during this difficult time. Please continue to pray with us for people around the world as COVID-19 continues to spread from country to country.