According to Juicyecumenism.com, at the 2021 WCA Global Legislative Assembly on Friday, April 30:
“A Virginia delegate proposed amending a resolution supporting the formation of the Global Methodist Church for orthodox United Methodists by adding the following language:
‘This assembly expresses its hope that if the scheduled General Conference of August 29-September 6, 2022 is postponed, then upon the announcement of postponement, the Wesleyan Covenant Association will work with others or independently legally to form as soon as possible the Global Methodist Church or another new denomination and begin immediate operations.’
“In the discussion that followed, delegates readily understood this as effectively saying that by 2022, we intended to split off from the rest of the UMC, with or without the Protocol. This proposal was overwhelmingly rejected.”
The 2021 WCA Global Legislative Assembly did pass:
“An amendment from a Missouri delegate to add the following sentence to a resolution endorsing the Protocol: “Finally if the General Conference does not happen or otherwise fails to implement the Protocol in 2022 the assembly encourages the Global Methodist Church to move forward without the Protocol.”
The passing of this amendment, its language, and the rejection of any departure before the 2022 General Conference may leave the future of a UMC split in doubt. If the General Conference is delayed in 2022—and who knows what the future holds for global travel or other international crisis—membership attrition throughout the United Methodist denomination may be such that a split becomes irrelevant.
Prior to 2000, church membership in America remained steady. Over the last twenty years, however, there has been a twenty percent drop in church membership—and this was pre-COVID. With the increased acrimony dividing our nation and congregations, to think the United Methodist Church can continue to delay a divorce without losing much, if not all its equity, could be wishful thinking.
The good news remains that God knew about COVID before we knew. He knew the UMC was headed for a divorce before those in power attempted to act. God knows all.
Once, a long time ago, God said:
“Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” (Hosea 1:2)
Just as Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea and had to be redeemed, so we are redeemed by God through the death of his Son. In times past God has taken the initiative to restore a people to himself. It may very well be that God is asking those who affirm his words, power to transform lives, and authority over all creation—including marriage—to remain faithful to him in this broken relationship we call the United Methodist Church.