Greetings in the name of Jesus—the One who has called us to this time and place together!
I’m grateful to be part of the emergence of this new movement of the Holy Spirit—and I’m convinced God is doing a new thing among those of us who claim the historic, orthodox, evangelical, Wesleyan expression of our faith. I believe we’re planting seeds that, when full grown, will bear the fruit of a vital, Wesleyan witness and dynamic, Spirit-filled Methodism across the globe. I truly believe the best is yet to come!
Who We Are
The Allegheny West Provisional Conference is being formed by congregations and clergy who’ve disaffiliated from the East Ohio, West Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania Conferences. Since last September, over 80 volunteers representing each of those regions have worked to put together the systems and structures necessary for us to be approved as a Provisional Conference by the Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) of the Global Methodist Church.
We received approval from the TLC as a Provisional Conference on April 1, 2023. We’re diligently working in preparation to onboard the congregations and clergy and help secure clergy leadership for churches where applicable. We believe up to 400 churches will join our Conference once they complete their disaffiliation requirements. I would remind you, however, the goal has never been disaffiliation, affiliation, or launching a Provisional Conference.
Our Hopeful Future
We eagerly anticipate the day when our congregations can walk out of the fog of these recent years into a bright and hopeful future. We need each other as we live into what’s next, and I write to encourage you to join us as we journey through these early weeks and months of our existence. I also urge those who join us to be hopeful and expect the best of each other. We’re in the process of carefully and prayerfully blending three distinctly different conference experiences and cultures. This process will require grace and resolve for a hopeful future, but I’m confident we can do so with God’s help.
One way we can achieve this preferred future is to intentionally change the way we operate in our new denomination. Some of us have been fighting for the faith for so long that it’s our natural response. Our tendency is to look at others with suspicion and lack of trust. I invite us to say grace over the past and refocus ourselves for salvation-offering, church-planting, community-transforming, world-changing mission and ministry in the best of our Wesleyan tradition. To use an image from scripture—we need to beat our swords into plowshares—and start preparing the ground of our Conference for the planting that is to come.
This word of caution doesn’t mean we won’t have discourse and important decisions to make about what’s next for us. It does, however, require us to remember others with whom we’re sharing the future are committed to the same mission and beliefs. The Allegheny West Provisional Conference has been formed to help shape that kind of focus.
Plan Now for October’s Convening Conference
Our convening Conference will be held on October 13-14, 2023 at Reynoldsburg Community Church in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. I anticipate a powerful time of healing, vision casting, and celebration of our hopeful and fruitful future. Imagine gathering with like-hearted Methodists who celebrate the faith once delivered to the saints rather than picking it apart. Imagine the joy of walking in agreement with Wesleyan sisters and brothers and discovering the Spirit at work. Imagine ordaining up to 100 individuals as Deacons and Elders. Imagine how God will be glorified as we band together as congregations, pastors, and laity and see new congregations birthed which reflect biblical Christianity and who share the Gospel where it needs to be heard. Just imagine—I can’t wait!
Our Encouragement Comes from Jesus
Let me close with a word of encouragement from Jesus’ prayer for us the toward end of the Gospel of John, chapter 17:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22, 23).
The unity Jesus prayed for us wasn’t structural or organizational—but a unity of Spirit, core beliefs, and practices that make us distinctively Christian. I share them today, in the early days of our existence, as an invitation for us to be ONE—ONE in heart—ONE in love for Jesus—ONE in commitment to the orthodox doctrines and foundational moral teachings of the Christian faith—ONE in mission—and ONE in our passion to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ and spread scriptural holiness across the land. In the years to come, may we BECOME that kind of ONE.
If you’re willing to be part of that type of connection of like-minded, warm-hearted, Jesus-loving, Spirit-filled, Wesleyan, evangelical, orthodox, covenant-keeping Christians who are committing to locking arms and committed to offering the whole Gospel to the whole world—I invite you to join us.
I promise you; the best is yet to come!