“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)
A Message from President Pro Tempore Greenway
Dear Friends of Jesus and the Allegheny West Provisional Conference,
Greetings in the name of Jesus—who is proving Himself to be faithful and uniting us as one!
By the end of June, 798 congregations have been granted disaffiliation from the East Ohio, West Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania Conferences of the United Methodist Church. At the time of writing this article, 523 of those congregations have joined the Allegheny West Conference. More congregations are joining each week as they complete the disaffiliation requirements of their respective conferences. We are thrilled so many faithful Methodists have decided to join our movement from all corners of our Conference region of all of Ohio and the western third of Pennsylvania.
As newly joined churches, we know there’s a lot you’re doing to organize, refocus, and help lead your congregation to look forward. I encourage you to resist the temptation of looking back, and instead embrace looking forward to the future God has called us to. I invite you to utilize our website for information. You can view previously published articles here and find necessary forms here and here.
Remember, this is about so much more than changing the name on the front of our church buildings and letterhead. This is about reclaiming our doctrine and rediscovering the distinctively Wesleyan/Methodist way of being church. We are disciples who make disciples who make disciples. We’re grateful so many are joining us in our journey to go and be the church!
Connected in Belief and Mission
I write to encourage you to GET CONNECTED. I know some of us read the word “connected” or “connectionalism”—and we start to bristle because the word was often used as a whip to get us to do what we needed to do to support the denomination. But being connected is in the very DNA of Wesley’s movement. The purpose of getting connected is NOT to serve the Conference, but to align our hearts and lock our arms together to serve our world. When churches in a region align themselves in practice and mission—the impact can be amazing.
I just returned from a short term-mission trip to Cuba. The church I serve has a strategic partnership with a church planter in the city of Jovellanos who embodies the Wesleyan DNA of being connected. In the last eight years, his church has planted 15 churches in his region. I’ll spare you the details of how it works in the face of incredible adversity but suffice it to say that the “connectional” strength of those churches that are aligned in mission is breath-taking—caring for the poor, ministering to the sick and lonely—feeding the hungry—and offering Jesus to everyone. They are “ONE” and changing the spiritual atmosphere of their region for Jesus. I wish the same for every one of our churches—to be ONE in belief and mission together. It’s time to GET CONNECTED.
You’ll notice three fundamental changes in our Connection here in the Allegheny West Conference:
First, the focus of our ministry is the local church. Everything we do and the focus of our existence is to help resource and release local churches to fulfill their mission. The local church is where people are saved, baptized, trained, and released for ministry. It’s our intention to help each local church reclaim the genius of Wesleyan discipleship and mission and claim the world around them as their parish.
Second, we’re growing quickly, and our next area of focus is to foster connection and cooperation among all our local churches. One of the foundational ways we’ll do that is by establishing 22-24 geographic circuits of 15-20 charges. In our movement we’re replacing the district structure in favor of smaller circuits of churches. The circuit is the primary place of missional alignment and church planting in the Allegheny West Conference.
A Presiding Elder for Each Circuit
Each circuit will be led by a Presiding Elder who is either retired or is serving in this role in addition to leading their local church. The role of the Presiding Elder is three-fold:
- to be a mentor and coach for the clergy and lay leaders in the circuit (especially around Wesleyan discipleship);
- to be the lead missional strategist and lead the circuit in working together to support local, national and international mission partnerships and church planting, and;
- to assist the local church when a new pastor is needed.
We intend to announce the circuits and presiding elders by the end of August. I’m excited about the men and women who’ve agreed to serve the Connection in this vital role.
Third, we are developing an intentionally lean Conference structure, and the focus of our annual conference meeting to be held on October 13-14 at Reynoldsburg Community Church will NOT be the one-hour business session—but rather an intentional gathering designed to foster healing, cast vision, offer sound instruction, and inspire us as we move forward—culminating in the ordination of at least 140 clergy! We will be opening registration for Annual Conference soon, and I cannot wait for us to be together and strengthen our connection.
I’m honored to serve as the President Pro Tempore of our Conference during this season, and look forward to all God will do in, to, and through us as we GET CONNECTED.
Jeffrey E. Greenway
President Pro Tempore
Allegheny West Conference