By Walter B. Fenton
The Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) adopted a catechism for the new denomination on Monday, August 1, 2022.
“In these challenging times, the desperate need for a high level of catechesis – the teaching and learning of the Christian faith – is extremely important for those longing to be obedient disciples of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Emeritus Mike Lowry, a member of the TLC and a leader in the Global Methodist Church. “I am confident people of all ages and stages of faith development will benefit from the catechism we have adopted. It is a gift to the whole Church, and all of us will be strengthened through both a heart and head commitment in reclaiming the life giving confessions of our faith.”
A Wesleyan Covenant Association task force began work on the catechism in December 2020. Led by Dr. Jason Vickers, Professor of Theology at Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Kentucky), the 10 member group included clergy, laypeople and teachers from around the world.
“It was a delight and privilege to chair the task force on a new catechism for the Global Methodist Church,” said Vickers. “I especially want to commend the work of Dr. Phil Tallon and the Rev. Teddy Ray, who served as the two principal authors of the document. I also want to highlight the invaluable contribution made by Drs. Bill Arnold (Asbury Theological Seminary), David de Silva (Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio), Sue Nicholson (Asbury University, Wilmore Kentucky), and David Watson (United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio). Together, they provided the supporting biblical references for all of the major doctrines covered in the catechism. Our collective prayer is that future generations of Methodists will benefit theologically, spiritually, and morally from a deep engagement with these materials.”
Tallon, Dean of the Houston Baptist University School of Christian Thought and Associate Professor of Theology (Houston, Texas) and Rev. Ray, a Methodist pastor and second year student at Yale University Law School (New Haven, Connecticut), drafted the initial version of the catechism. Vickers tapped Tallon and Ray to prepare the draft based on their prior experience writing catechisms and their published works on the subject. Eventually, more than 300 clergy and laity reviewed, commented upon, edited, and ultimately approved the catechism the task force produced.
“I was pleased to be invited to participate on the catechism task force, and I am proud of the work we accomplished,” said Lisa Buffum, the Director of Online Education for the Institute for Discipleship at BeADisciple.com. “The task force was rightly comprised of knowledgeable academic scholars who allowed this layperson to feel right at home among them. I urge every congregation in the Global Methodist Church to utilize this document to educate its members on the essential theological and doctrinal principles of our faith as we live and serve the Lord in Kingdom-community together.”
Once the WCA task force completed their work on the catechism they delivered it to the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s 37 member Global Council for its study and review. After reading and engaging in robust discussions about the catechism, council members approved it and directed the council’s Doctrine and Practice Committee to review it for consistency and to add Bible citations supporting all the major teachings addressed in it. Once the Scripture passages were added, the catechism was sent to over 250 delegates planning to attend the WCA’s 2022 Global Legislative Assembly held in Indianapolis, Indiana, on May 5, where the delegates overwhelmingly commended it to the Global Methodist Church’s TLC for its adoption.
“The catechism we have adopted is a well vetted piece of work. It will be a great encouragement to churches that want to know what the Global Methodist Church stands for, and more importantly, what we will stand upon,” said Krystl Gauld, a TLC member and Executive Director at FaithCare, Inc. in Reading, Pennsylvania. “There is so much confusion and conflicting theology out there – preying on our children, inappropriately influencing the way we carry on with relationships, and attempting to misguide even the simplest things in our lives. Our faith is a relationship, and people want to know that they are being faithful to God and that they are doing things that will make him smile down on their lives. The catechism allows people to learn about Jesus and why, because of him, we do and believe certain things as Global Methodists. That knowledge will empower all of us to live faithfully in a relationship with God and other people.”
In adopting the catechism, the TLC members encouraged the new denomination’s local churches to regularly use the catechism in classes for children, as a resource for confirmation classes, and with adults as they prepare to be received as new members in the Global Methodist Church. Some said they would strongly encourage local churches to walk all their members through the catechism, so they are conversant with it, and to unite the people of the new denomination during its critical formational season.
“A foundational catechism for a denominational family is not only a good idea; it’s essential,” said the Rev. Jessica LaGrone, a TLC member and Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary. “For us to start out from the beginning in the Global Methodist Church in agreement around our most basic beliefs sets our feet together on the right path. One of my favorite lines in the introduction of our catechesis proclaims that its purpose is to help those in our connection to ‘understand, recall, profess, and enjoy the church’s essential teachings.’ The proclamation that right doctrine is something that we enjoy is a powerful one, and one that is to be celebrated.”
The TLC is exploring ways to make the catechism available to local Global Methodist churches in various formats as soon as possible. It hopes to offer it in different languages and to make it as affordable as possible so local churches can secure copies for all their members.
“I trust every congregation that joins the Global Methodist Church will use this new catechism,” said Cara Nicklas, a laywoman, attorney, and a member of both the TLC and the WCA’s Global Council. “If we are to be the church we aspire to be, it is essential that laypeople understand the faith we confess, joyfully and obediently live it out in their daily lives, and know how to warmly and winsomely share it with people. It is a great joy to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. And what a privilege it is to share the Gospel message with others, seeing their lives transformed by Jesus as well. I am confident the Global Methodist Church can be a beautiful, vibrant, and growing branch of the church universal if laypeople will dedicate themselves to learning and regularly sharing the faith in creative and thoughtful ways. The new catechism will help all of us do just that!”
The TLC is encouraging the development of additional resources to be used in conjunction with the catechism; however, the TLC recommends the following resources available through Seedbed:
“The Absolute Basics of the Christian Faith” by Phil Tallon
“The Absolute Basics of the Wesleyan Way” by Phil Tallon and Justus Hunter
“Foundations of the Christian Faith” by Timothy C. Tennent
You can learn more about the Global Methodist Church by exploring its website.
The Rev. Walter Fenton is the Global Methodist Church’s Deputy Connectional Officer.