By G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service.
Undoing the election of the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church will be a primary goal when 1,500 Methodist evangelicals gather this week in Chicago to found a new renewal group, according to organizers.
At the inaugural meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association on Friday (Oct. 7), charter members will outline their expectations for a soon-to-be-appointed denominational commission to discuss the conflict over sexuality.
The United Methodist Church is hoping to prevent a schism in the wake of Bishop Karen Oliveto’s July election to lead the denomination’s Western Jurisdiction, which covers 11 states from Arizona to Alaska.
In Chicago, the WCA plans to send a pre-emptive message about what Methodist evangelicals in the United States, Africa and Asia will need to see in any proposal from the commission.
“A plan that requires traditionalists to compromise their principles and their understandings of Scripture, or that allows for varieties of beliefs and practices within the global communion of the church, isn’t acceptable to most evangelicals,” said Jeff Greenway, lead pastor of Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio and a member of the WCA’s board of directors.
Activists want the commission to reaffirm the church’s ban on ordained leadership by “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” Formal statements are already in the works.