First United Methodist Church Alcoa announced that it has joined The Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA), a group advocating for traditional, scriptural Methodism.
The WCA, which has both individual and church memberships, is heavily involved in organizing a new denomination designed to be in place by the time of the anticipated United Methodist Church General Conference 2022, and in further anticipation that the Protocol for Grace and Reconciliation through Separation, or a similar proposal, will be adopted, and that the present United Methodist Church will be divided into two new organizations.
The action was taken at a meeting of the Church Council of First United Methodist Church Alcoa on July 29. The vote thus evidences the church’s intention to move toward traditional Wesleyan Methodism in the event two new progressive and traditional bodies are formed as a result of the anticipated 2022 action.
“Right now, there are a lot of people in our area seeking a Methodist expression of Christianity, but there’s also a lot of confusion about how closely a particular Methodist church may adhere to Scripture,” said David Duggan, chair of First UMC’s Church Council. “We decided it is time to state clearly and publicly that we serve as a home for Christians who want biblical preaching and teaching in the Wesleyan tradition, and lives of discipleship and service.”
The UMC as a global denomination currently plans to hold a General Conference in fall of 2022, where it is presently expected that legislation to divide the denomination along doctrinal and theological lines will be seriously considered. Once passed, it would be relatively easy for a church to transfer to a denomination rooted in Scripture and the traditions of Methodism. That new denomination, not yet activated, already has a name, The Global Methodist Church.
“While any further action,” Duggan added, “will have to await General Conference and a decision to adopt the Protocol, or similar legislation, and a decision by the full membership of our church, this action was taken to signal our church’s intention to align with traditional, orthodox Wesleyan Methodism.”
“We are very happy to have a church of First UMC’s size and stature join the WCA,” said the Rev. Chuck Griffin, president of the Holston Chapter of the WCA.
“Because of Alcoa’s central location in our particular conference, we expect First UMC to be our chapter’s anchor church as we help other churches discern their future direction.”
First Alcoa would of course undergo a name change if any such transition is approved. The Rev. Todd Chancey, senior pastor of First UMC Alcoa, plans to remain with the church as it transitions to the new denomination.
“In the meantime,” said Rev. Chancey, “we believe it is important to let this community know where our theology is grounded, and we intend to state that we are a Wesleyan Covenant Association church.”
The church is located at 617 Gilbert Street in Alcoa.