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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For those who are interested in the other sides perspective, below is Jay’s response:
Rev. Jeremy Smith
LOL. It’s already included in the article. Thanks for reading closely. 🙂
Do you have anything to rebut that it was illegal (and un-Wesleyan) to bar a District Superintendent from their own district church’s event, Jay?
And that Jay has a lamp with the Empire’s symbol from Star Wars on it in the background is *chef’s kiss*
Watched his video. Master class in gaslighting.
I’m sorry but I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Clearly, you don’t like the WCA and their theology, even though it is very similar to current and official UMC theology. However, I don’t understand why some people want to make it harder for some congregations to leave. Is the UMC like USSR of old, forcing groups to stay for some obscure or nefarious reason? I don’t get it.
There are covenantal and legal obligations that need to be met for them to disaffiliate, and they are trying to flout those. It isn’t a matter of simply making it “harder for some congregations to leave.”
That’s exactly what they are doing. They are intimidating churches and even some ministries. Unless you’re on ground level on this, you have no idea what’s really happening.
I think both sides want disaffiliation to be easier – the problem is that there currently not any mechanism for doing so (it exits, but it complicated and costly). What I don’t understand is that if people are unhappy with the UMC, why don’t they just…leave? Leave as individuals. Go to a different church. Go start your own in a storefront. Why drag a whole congregation – or worse, a whole Annual Conference – through this quagmire? Go start a church and just let people join, whether they come from a UMC or some other church or no church. Nothing prevents this and individuals leaving a congregation/UMC incur no costs, no complications.
Smith will probably lack the integrity to let Therrell’s response remain posted here (he’s already deleted it once), but in any case, here is Therrell’s response to what happened that day:
It’s literally linked in the article.
He included it in his own piece.
I have posted this response on Facebook! We are not remaining quiet! The ball is in their court. We can proceed with love as Christians or share our dirty laundry with the world! Time for our council of bishops to do the right thing and honor the Protocol for the good of all involved.
I don’t understand why a guy concerned with justice would seek to nullify the expression of those who want to birth a new Wesleyan-holiness denomination. You got this wrong (defending the power structures against the people). You cast yourself as a gladiator for truth but what comes across is a crony in the service of an imperious hierarchy.
Always found it interesting that Jay filed papers of incorporation with the State of Florida for “The Florida Methodist Church” while still in the Bishop’s Cabinet. The WCA was none too happy with that move. Now he’s president of the Florida WCA chapter. How many times can a leopard change its spots?
Two wrongs do not make a right. Whatever the right or wrong of the action by the WCA in Florida if the Commission on General Conference or its staff acted untransaprently, unfaithfully or secretly then it should be addressed. The former member has every right to speak to the issue. His account and expressed experience and concerns need to be addressed because they raise significant questions of trust. Thank you for linking to his piece. I read it but I have not seen any response from the commission. is there one that you are aware of?
You just said that a worldwide organization can’t speak out against an injustice because one member / one local group is guilty of that injustice.
By that logic, we as a denomination cannot speak out against any injustice because we invariably have many members and usually congregations practicing that injustice.
Here are a couple comments from “now-former member of the General Commission on General Conference,”
I. “The Commission deliberated in closed sessions which, we were told, were necessary to protect sensitive contract negotiations (with vendors and venues) which could be jeopardized if the internal debate were made public. Now that the news is out, the church at large deserves to know what happened”
To me , this is basic violation of TRUST; i.e. ‘what goes on in this room, stays in this room’. Attempting to adopt some ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude with “now that the news is out” is essentially saying; “I knew something that you didn’t know and now I’m going to breach trust and tell”!
II. “It is hard not to conclude that the staff never took the request seriously and were scrambling at the last minute to cover themselves.” OK, show the proof that the ‘staff never took the request seriously’!
Bottom line-this ‘former member of General Commission on General Conference’;
didn’t get his way, chose to ‘take his bawl and go home’, and now is shoving his way into the spotlight for attention.