By Keith Boyette
March 16, 2022
As 2022 began much of the world was starting to breathe a little easier. While the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly, many countries around the world were learning it was not as virulent as other strains, so there was no reason to initiate widespread closures of churches, schools, and businesses. There was genuine hope that a sense of normality would eventually resume this year.
But then Russian President Vladimir Putin plunged the world into one of the greatest conflicts in Europe since World War II, and even threatened nuclear war. Our hearts break as we watch the terror, destruction, and death he has unleashed on Ukraine and its people; a democratic country that posed no military threat to Russia. So today we find ourselves in the midst of a global crisis, and at this juncture, no one knows how it will end.
While the third postponement of The United Methodist Church’s General Conference does not begin to compare with the human tragedy of war in Europe, it has raised many questions and resurfaced old tensions that the adoption of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation would have resolved in an amicable and orderly way. The Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council is delighted that its announcement of the launch of the Global Methodist Church has been warmly received by theologically conservative Methodists all around the world. And we are overwhelmed by the number of local churches leaders and clergy contacting us about how to join. It is simultaneously a great joy and great burden to have.
Friends, this is a time to take a deep breath, and explore your options very carefully. While the Global Methodist Church will launch on May 1, 2022, there is no deadline for local churches and pastors to join. The new church’s leadership will be sharing information on at least a weekly basis through Crossroads, and each article will be added to a plethora of information already on its website. We strongly encourage lay leaders and pastors to read and share that information with others. In short, there is plenty of time to ask questions, consider options, and then take the actions necessary to join the Global Methodist Church.
In last week’s Crossroads, we addressed the process by which local churches align with the Global Methodist Church. In this article, we will begin to answer questions about how clergy align with it. Persons in pastoral ministry present many different circumstances depending on their status – ordained, consecrated, licensed, or otherwise. The Global Methodist Church simplifies categories of clergy in the new church (see Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline ¶¶403 and 412. By clicking on the hyperlink, you will be taken to a page which contains the full Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline. You can then expand Part Four by clicking on it and then expand the relevant paragraphs by clicking on each of them).
Individuals who are currently ordained in the UM Church or another denomination will present evidence of their current ordination to the Global Methodist Church along with an application for ordination. After review of information about the applicant, the Global Methodist Church will grant the person ordained status in it. Once ordained status has been granted in the Global Methodist Church, the applicant will inform any existing denomination of which they have been a part of their status with the Global Methodist Church. For those who have been part of The United Methodist Church, the applicant would deliver their certificate of conference membership, if one was issued to them, along with a written letter withdrawing from membership in their annual conference to the conference secretary under ¶ 360.1 of the UMC’s Book of Discipline. The applicant is not required to surrender their credentials under ¶ 360.2 because they are not leaving the ministerial office. Such persons are not re-ordained, but rather their status previous to aligning with the Global Methodist Church is recognized and they are granted ordained status in it.
Thus full elders and deacons ordained in the UM Church will be granted ordained status as elders and deacons in the Global Methodist Church. Deacons in the UM Church may request ordination as elders in the new church if they have satisfied the other requirements to be ordained as elders (see ¶410). Other deacons will choose to retain their status as deacons.
Provisional elders and deacons in the UM Church will immediately be ordained as elders and deacons in the Global Methodist Church if they have met the requirements to be ordained as such (see ¶¶409 and 410). If they have not met the requirements to be ordained, the Global Methodist Church will recognize their service thus far and grant them provisional status as elders or deacons in the new church for not longer than two years as they complete requirements to be ordained in it.
Associate members and licensed local pastors in the UM Church will be ordained as elders and deacons in the Global Methodist Church once they have met the requirements to be ordained as such (see ¶ 409 and 410). Some will be ready for such ordination immediately upon aligning with the new church. For those individuals who have not met the requirements to be ordained as deacons or elders, the Global Methodist Church will recognize their status as associate members and licensed local pastors in the new church for not longer than two years as they complete requirements to be ordained (see ¶417.3).
Persons who were formerly ordained, consecrated, or licensed in the UM Church will present evidence of their former status and the reason for their surrender of credentials to the Global Methodist Church. Such persons will move through the same process outlined above depending on the ministry status they held prior to their withdrawal from being clergy in the UM Church.
For persons who are ordained, consecrated, or licensed in denominations other than the UM Church, they will complete the application for ordination along with supporting materials and will then be evaluated for ordination as deacons or elders by the Global Methodist Church.
Finally, persons who are currently preparing for ordination in another denomination will be recognized as candidates for ordination in the Global Methodist Church. Such persons complete an application for candidacy status and a transcript of any courses taken thus far to satisfy the educational requirements of the new denomination (see ¶407). Persons who enter the candidacy process will not need to repeat steps or requirements they have already completed in another denomination if such steps are part of the Global Methodist Church’s candidacy process.
Future articles will address how persons who are called to ministry in the Global Methodist Church are ordered (certified lay ministers, lay supply pastors, deacons, and elders), how clergy are deployed to Global Methodist churches, and the benefit programs for clergy under appointment in the Global Methodist Church.
The Global Methodist Church joyfully affirms that “the church’s ministry is derived from the ministry of Christ, who bids all people to receive salvation and follow Him as disciples in the way of love. Clergy are those who have been called out from among God’s people for particular service to His church.” The Transitional Leadership Council of the Global Methodist Church is committed to ensuring as seamless a process as possible as clergy enter the new church so that each person can be about the ministry to which God has called them. As partners in ministry with the laity, clergy serve an important role in the Global Methodist Church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly.
Rev. Keith Boyette is chairman of the Transitional Leadership Council of the Global Methodist Church. Prior to 2017, he was the founding pastor of Wilderness Community Church in the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Since 2017, he has served as President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association.