By Walter B. Fenton
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leader of the UM Church’s Great Plains and Houston Episcopal Areas, has resigned from the episcopacy of the church and withdrawn from the denomination.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.
As Jones shared the news of his decision to align with the GM Church, its Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) announced it has appointed him as a bishop in the new denomination. 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 Jones 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. He joins Bishop Mark Webb and Bishop Emeritus Mike Lowry as the denomination’s third episcopal leader.
“The Global Methodist Church represents traditional Methodism with a strong focus on reaching new people for the gospel,” Jones said about the growing denomination. “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.”
Beginning in September 2004 Jones served as the resident bishop of the Kansas Episcopal Area, and then in September 2012 he became the first bishop of the newly formed Great Plains Episcopal Area comprising the Kansas East, Kansas West and Nebraska Annual Conferences. From there he assumed leadership of the Texas Annual Conference in 2016. Prior to his 18 years as bishop, he pastored local churches in the North Texas Annual Conference and was a faculty member at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology (Dallas, Texas).
“Bishop Scott Jones has stood strong for the faith,” said Cara Nicklas, Chairwoman of the TLC. “With grace and clarity he has modeled and proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he has given his life to making disciples of Jesus Christ. With great joy and hope for the future, the TLC warmly welcomes him to the GM Church.”
Jones received degrees from the University of Kansas (B.A. in Philosophy), Perkins School of Theology (Master of Theology) and Southern Methodist University (Ph.D. in Religious Studies). His dissertation research focused on Wesley Studies and the History of Biblical Interpretation.
“Bishop Jones’s remarkable leadership has been a blessing to so many pastors and churches over the years. He has an incredible gift for casting vision and keeping those under his leadership focused on loving God and making disciples of Jesus Christ as the main thing,” said the Rev. Dr. Jessica LaGrone, Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Kentucky), a TLC member, and a former member in the UM Church’s Texas Annual Conference. “I’m grateful for the bright future ahead for the Global Methodist Church with his wisdom and guidance leading the way.”
A prolific author, Jones has written numerous articles and published several books. His most recent titles are Scripture and the Wesleyan Way: A Bible Study on Real Christianity (2018), The Once and Future Wesleyan Movement (2016), Ask: Faith Questions in a Skeptical Age (2014), and The Wesleyan Way: A Faith that Matters (2014). Earlier books include The Evangelistic Love of God and Neighbor: A Theology of Discipleship and Witness (2003), and United Methodist Doctrine: The Extreme Center (2002), all from Abingdon Press.
“We are rejoicing over God’s good grace to us,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, the GM Church’s Transitional Connectional Officer. “In the span of two weeks we have received two faithful, innovative, and passionate leaders in Bishop Mark Webb and now Bishop Scott Jones. Theological conservatives around the world have greatly appreciated Bishop Jones’ witness to the warm hearted Wesleyan expression of the Christian faith, and his fidelity to faith’s life-giving teachings rooted in Scripture and the great confessions of the Church universal. He will be a tremendous blessing to the GM Church as it grows and flourishes.”
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.
“I hope we succeed as a church in aligning our resources for evangelism, church planting and increasing diversity in our membership while addressing key issues of social justice,” said Bishop Jones. “It is hard to let go of non-essential but time-consuming practices and to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing. In order to be a healthy and vibrant church, we’ll need to address the challenges of raising up a new generation of lay and clergy leaders who are deeply formed in the Wesleyan way of following Jesus.”
Bishop Jones lives in Dallas, Texas, and is married to Mary Lou Reece. They have three adult children, Jameson, Arthur, and Marynell.
The Rev. Walter Fenton is the Global Methodist Church’s Deputy Connectional Officer.