Welcome to our website!! We are hope-filled, joy-filled, Spirit-filled and excited for what the Holy Spirit is doing and will do in this season of ministry. You are invited to join us in this journey of faith by checking out the resources and upcoming events for the global WCA as well as this regional chapter of the WCA here in Western Pennsylvania. Reach out anytime with any questions you may have. May we embrace the ideal of John Wesley when he said, “I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.”
Count the Cost
Over these past few months, there have been numerous gatherings with the bishop, assistant to the bishop, and district superintendents as local churches have gathered in prayerful discernment for their future. They have been counting the financial cost and story after story has come through with churches responding with “our church just cannot afford it.” They have heard the costs and walked away discouraged because of the unaffordability of disaffiliation.
There is another metric, though, involved in counting the cost. As Jesus was speaking to the large crowds traveling with him, he laid out the cost of becoming a disciple (Luke 14). Many traveled with Jesus, but there were few who actually followed Jesus. He was unimpressed with the large crowds traveling with Him. He was calling them to take up their cross and follow Him. He did not want them to follow blindly but to prayerfully discern whether or not they were ready for the cost involved in following Jesus.
As churches prayerfully discern their future, it is not just about the financial cost. There is a spiritual cost that each church needs to discern. How can your local church, your gathering of disciples of Jesus, most effectively make disciples who make disciples of Jesus? Are you willing to take the next step of a Church Conference so that you can enter into negotiations with the Conference Trustees? Are you willing to stand with hundreds of other churches in our Conference and thousands of churches throughout our United Methodist connection counting the cost of following Jesus to reach the least, the last, and the lost with the good news of Jesus Christ?
The WCA chapter of Western PA supports churches which choose to exercise their disciplinary right to disaffiliate under paragraph 2553. We do not recommend legal litigation as a primary course of action at this time, but instead encourage churches which feel called to leave the United Methodist Church because of reasons of conscience to follow the official processes for disaffiliation laid out in paragraph 2553 and by our Conference Trustees. For churches that choose an alternative path, our WCA chapter will continue to support them through their alternate process.
As church after church gathers in Church Conferences throughout these next few months, the WPA chapter of the WCA is here praying for all of our local churches and praying for all of our Conference Trustees as they work together to make a way for churches to disaffiliate and live into the ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ. We are praying for the fire of the Holy Spirit to fall and for Jesus to be made known throughout Western Pennsylvania and beyond. Come, Lord Jesus!
Rev. Laura A. Saffell
This is a challenging time for all of our churches and clergy in the United Methodist Church and in our particular Conference as they prayerfully discern their future striving to contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). It is challenging because contending for the faith has never been easy. The challenges and cultural shifts through which the followers of Jesus have had to navigate for the past 2,000 or so years have been incredibly difficult.
Throughout the history of Methodism, followers of Jesus in this stream of Christianity have oftentimes found themselves at crossroads where they had to prayerfully discern whether to stay in the prevailing stream of Methodism or separate and begin a new expression of Methodism. Out of those seasons of prayerful discernment, Methodist forms of Christianity multiplied and grew. People were set free for joyful obedience as new expressions of Methodism were born which now number 80 Methodist, Wesleyan, and related denominations that represent over 80 million followers of Jesus in 138 countries according to the World Methodist Council (https://worldmethodistcouncil.org/about-us/).
Why share this brief history of Methodism at a time of anxiety and brokenness in the United Methodist Church? Because sometimes we need to be reminded that countless others have been in prayerful discernment over our long and storied history as followers of Jesus in the Methodist stream of Christianity seeking to contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints. We need to be reminded that God has often led His people to do difficult things. In fact, Jesus said to those who would follow Him: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
At the time of this writing, nearly 300 churches out of nearly 800 in the Western Pennsylvania Conference have indicated a desire to explore disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church. This then gives them the opportunity to meet with the Bishop, the Assistant to the Bishop, and their District Superintendent to hear more about the process and be given some of the costs involved should their local church decide to pursue disaffiliation.
Now is the time to engage in robust prayerful discernment as followers of Jesus, as leadership of local churches, as clergy, as congregations, as leadership at all levels of United Methodism as we all seek to be freed for joyful obedience through Jesus Christ our Lord. Please be assured that no matter where each church discerns the direction God is leading them, you are being lifted up in prayer that in all ways we may each be faithful to His leading and that more and more people may find life in the name of Jesus and in the power of His Holy Spirit.
Our next Annual WPA WCA Membership Gathering will be held on Saturday, November 12th, at 10:00 am. Stay tuned for additional details