On the same day that the Wesleyan Covenant Association alleged secret meetings by The United Methodist Church, they held their own secret meetings and had security at the door turn away a laywoman and pastor from attending.
Earlier this week, the Wesleyan Covenant Association regional chapter in Florida advertised local gatherings to give more information about the nascent Global Methodist Church. They were advertised as open gatherings, stating “call people you know at other UM churches. Invite them to come!”
However, when UMC laity Ramona Wiatt tried to attend the first meeting held at Waukeenah UMC, she was denied entry to the meeting by the organizer. Here’s the video.
You can see the uniformed security at the door to keep any more unwanted United Methodists from attending. Watch the video and you can hear the shock in her voice!
The speaker of the day and president of the local chapter is Jay Therrell, previously named Florida Man when he tried to start his own denomination and subsequently ceased to be a district superintendent in Florida. He turned in his clergy credentials in July 2021. His presentation specifically was to include “how to depart The United Methodist Church.”
So an outsider “not even a United Methodist clergy” leader not at his own church was allegedly barring entry to a laywoman to a UMC, where–by his own words–he was presenting on how to leave The UMC. Amaaaaaazing!
Therrell today recorded a video where he alleges lots of undocumented things, but he doesn’t deny that the couple was denied entry, and he said he would do it again at future gatherings.
But the bigger problem is that Ramona’s spouse is a pastor. He was denied entry too. And that’s where the big kerfuffle should emerge.
Violating the Original Use of Wesley’s Trust Clause
John Wesley started the Methodist tradition with a trust clause in their founding documents of any Methodist church. It said that the church property belonged to the denomination, not the local church. The reason was that John Wesley and his leadership were never to be legally barred entry from their own churches.
So fast forward 200 years, and that’s precisely what happened in Florida. Rev. Wayne Wiatt, the pastor in this video that was barred from entering, is the District Superintendent of the region where that church is located. That church is in his district, and the meeting was advertised to churches in his district. And as the district superintendent, if there ever was a legal matter where that local church would be signed away or legal action taken against it, Rev. Wiatt’s signature would be on that document, not the bishop’s! He’s literally the legal entity that owns that church!
And he was removed from the meeting by a uniformed officer. At an event advertised to local United Methodists to attend, and run by a non-United Methodist former clergyperson who is advocating people leave The United Methodist Church. No matter who was renting from who or whose officers they were hired by, the DS has a legal right to be there, and Therrell, with a law degree, knows it.
A growing problem
The same day this all happened, the main Wesleyan Covenant Association website ran a column by a now-former member of the General Commission on General Conference, lambasting its secret meetings and alleging backroom deals. I’m sorry, but you really don’t get to complain about secret meetings when your own chapter is holding them!
Contrast the Florida Man with the Oklahomans. A megachurch held a disaffiliation open meeting, livestreamed so this former Oklahoman could watch, and did the whole thing in open transparency. I’m certain that I, of all people, could have attended in person. I can be offended by the content, but the process was open and that’s a healthy alternative to the above.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association has always had an unhealthy obsession with secrecy, nefarious actions, and horrid theology that this blog has documented for 6 years. This is more of the same, and I’m hopeful that the rank-and-file WCA members wake up that their leadership is leading them astray.
May the coming days find more transparency as to what was said and why it was so important to bar the DS from attending.
This is an example of what inclusion looks like in the WCA and in the future Global Methodist Church. It may say on paper that all are welcome and invited. But once you get to the door, you find you are not welcome because of who you choose to love, and whose “team” you are a part of. Their actions don’t match their words, as 1 John 3:18 states should always be the case for people who follow Christ.
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