[Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. Check out the companion post here: “I Joined the Wesleyan Covenant Association…. But Not for These Reasons.“]
by Bob Phillips
- I joined the WCA…to bear a positive, unified witness to the evangelical understanding of the gospel within Wesleyan Christianity. The church I serve preaches and teaches conversion and new birth in Christ, holiness of heart and life, from a Bible that is God’s inspired and authoritative word, in the name of a Jesus who really was born of a virgin, really atoned for sin on the cross, really got up on Easter and really is coming again. All of this happens in a congregation that includes Republicans and Democrats, gays and straights, physicians and grade school drop-outs and folks from 5 continents and virtually every social stratum in the community. We need pastors and laity who with integrity and grace affirm these truths.
- I joined the WCA…to affirm and empower evangelicals who serve in areas where they have no meaningful voice in their conference or jurisdiction. When a clearly contentious candidate is elected to the office of bishop unanimously by a jurisdiction, true diversity clearly has come to an end through official channels. Spiritually beleaguered brothers and sisters have a right to know that their theological and moral perspective is affirmed by the majority global Wesleyan United Methodist Church, and not just about sexuality issues.
- I joined the WCA…to embrace and practice a healthy, growing Christianity. Many of the leaders in the WCA movement are in larger congregations because, under God, they grew them. A passion that sees ‘making disciples of Jesus Christ’ as the core mission of the church is the need of the hour. Many hungry to see the institution changed to enable growth are offering wisdom to a denomination in atrophy. “Faithful, not successful” has mutated from a healthy biblical warning to a rationale for excusing mediocrity and provable ineffectiveness in reaching others for Christ.
- I joined the WCA…to recover and proclaim Great Commandment Christianity as the Wesleyan core in “The Character of a Methodist,” and Christian Perfection. This movement sees these words as far more than recycled moralizing. “We love because He first loved us” empowers full love of God and neighbor for the WCA, separating it from a right wing that seems to care little for justice or the poor, and from a left wing that dodges the claim of Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
- I joined the WCA…because the future of the global Wesleyan church seems most welcomed and embraced in that family. I heard someone describe the creation of the Church of the Nazarene from the Methodist family with this insight: They took the fire and left us the stove. A Holy Spirit fire is burning in African/Third World Methodism, a church also facing hard challenges and imperfections. The WCA aligns with and affirms this movement, not to manipulate votes for church politics, but because African spirituality in Christ is the real deal. The WCA is happy to say so and affirms the importance the fire and the stove, and in that order. This fire requires a transformed stove.
Dr. Bob Phillips retires July 1, 2017, as Directing Pastor of First UMC, Peoria, Il. Bob is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Illinois, with advanced degrees from Asbury, Princeton and St. Andrews (Scotland). He retired with the rank of Captain as the senior United Methodist Chaplain in the US Navy in 2005.