By Walter B. Fenton
United Methodist Bishop Mark J. Webb, the former leader of the UM Church’s Upper New York Episcopal Area, has resigned from the episcopacy and withdrawn from the denomination. Webb has joined the Global Methodist Church.
The GM Church’s Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) announced it has hired Webb as a bishop in the GM Church. Its Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline provides that UM Church bishops may be received as bishops in the GM Church to serve until the latter’s convening General Conference; Bishop Webb has been received in this capacity. Initially, he will serve as one of the general superintendents of the GM Church and will not be appointed to a specific residential area.
“I am humbled to be a part of a fresh expression of Methodism that seeks to capture and live the fullness of our Wesleyan DNA and equip individuals and congregations to boldly and urgently live out God’s call to offer the good news of Jesus Christ to a desperate world,” said Webb regarding his new role with the GM Church. “I’m also grateful for the leadership and gifts faithfully offered by so many in the formation of this movement and look forward to becoming a part of all that God is doing and will do in and through the Global Methodist Church.”
Webb served as the bishop of the Upper New York Annual Conference of the UM Church for over 10 years. Prior to his role as a bishop, he pastored three local churches and served as a district superintendent in Pennsylvania for 23 years. His clergy colleagues elected him as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2004, 2008, and 2012. He received the Harry Denman Evangelism Award in 2002, and in 2018 he was named as one of the top 100 leaders by the John C. Maxwell Transformational Leadership Award.
“We are honored to have Bishop Webb join us and to immediately assume leadership responsibilities in the Global Methodist Church,” said Cara Nicklas, Chairwoman of the TLC. “His humble spirit, his courageous witness, and above all, his fidelity to the core confessions of the Wesleyan expression of the Christian faith are inspiring. I am confident his creative leadership will contribute to the growing health and vitality of our Church.”
A graduate of Shippensburg University (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania) with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Bishop Webb also holds a M. Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Kentucky) and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Connecticut (Storrs, Connecticut). He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of United Theological Seminary (Dayton, Ohio).
“What has impressed me most serving under and alongside Bishop Webb has been his keen ability to use his gifts of leadership and discernment to cast vision and work with others to implement that vision in often complicated situations,” said the Rev. Steven Taylor, Lead Pastor of Panama UM Church (Panama, New York). “He unapologetically proclaims that hope and salvation are found only in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible and through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.”
Former United Methodists who have already transitioned to the GM Church and United Methodist hoping to follow them have long regarded Bishop Webb as a courageous and gracious leader, willing to speak up on their behalf. He was very warmly received at the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s 2022 Global Gathering in Indiana, where he offered the closing devotion and served as the celebrant for Holy Communion.
“The entire staff is excited to welcome Bishop Webb to the team and is looking forward to working with him,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, the GM Church’s Transitional Connectional Officer. “His experience, and the gifts and graces he brings to us will bless and increase the GM Church for years to come. We praise and thank God for his willingness to serve among us during the denomination’s critical transitional period.”
Just launched on May 1, 2022, hundreds of local churches in Africa, Europe, the Philippines, and the United States have already aligned with the Global Methodist Church, and many more are hoping to do so over the next few years.
“Many people are coming to the Global Methodist Church with a passion to follow Jesus and be the Church, but also with a deep weariness and pain from past experiences and struggles. We are a broken and wounded people, called to offer Jesus to a broken and wounded world. We will need to help one another heal,” said Bishop Webb. “We must choose to trust and encourage one another, while fully depending upon the power of God’s Spirit in this new journey. I strive to give thanks for the formation my past provides, but I also know that the Gospel message invites me to lay the past behind and focus on the vision and hope God is birthing today. The battles of yesterday are no longer our battles. There will be new struggles, but I know God will be faithful, and I trust that God has already equipped us to be faithful to the glory of God and for the increase of His Kingdom.”
Bishop Webb lives in Lititz, Pennsylvania and is married to Jodi. They have two sons, Tyler, who is married to Lyndsay and Benjamin, who is married to Mary.
The Rev. Walter Fenton is the Global Methodist Church’s Deputy Connectional Officer.