By Senior Pastor Dr. Shane Stanford

On Monday, April 16, the Church Council of Christ Church Memphis unanimously voted to officially join the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA). The WCA is an association of like-minded Wesleyan churches in covenant with one another around the traditional, orthodox doctrine of the faith. WCA churches begin their journey together committing themselves to the authority of Scripture and the unique life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

Founded in the fall of 2016, the WCA now includes thousands of churches and individual members from across the United States and the world. Christ Church pastors Dr. Shane Stanford and Dr. Maxie Dunnam were among the original ‘task force’ that shaped the founding and launch of the WCA at an initial meeting in the summer of 2016 in Houston, TX. Called together from evangelical, orthodox churches and organizations throughout Methodism, this task group of some 40 leaders established the basic tenets of the WCA. These first critical principles included:

  • -the unique life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • -the person and power of the Holy Spirit
  • -the presence and example of the Holy Trinity
  • -the absolute authority and infallibility of Holy Scripture
  • -the communion of believers working together in unity
  • -the faithful life of character and moral example as found in the Doctrine and Discipline of the current United Methodist Church Book of Discipline (2016)

The recent conversations and unrest concerning the future of the UMC make joining the WCA all the more important, not just because of the common approach to doctrine and discipline, but also the mutual support and encouragement of churches on the frontline for proclaiming the faith against a resistant cultural context.

“The WCA is an important part of our journey into the next season of sharing the Good News,” said Christ Church Senior Pastor Dr. Shane Stanford. “Christ Church is a strong congregation capable of doing ministry from an independent experience. But, as Methodists, we believe in the journey together of our brothers and sisters, especially those who do not have the option of independent ministry.”

“The Gospel teaches us that we are stronger together,” said Christ Church Minister-at-Large Dr. Maxie Dunnam. “And, the WCA makes that possible for us as we continue to wade the waters of denominational uncertainty.”

“The WCA is NOT a new denomination. Christ Church Memphis is still part of the United Methodist denomination, committed to the current doctrine and discipline of the church,” Shane said. “However, as with many congregations, the ‘line in the sand’ for us is any change to the Discipline’s statement for the traditional understanding of human sexuality in particular and the authority of Scripture in general. If that line is crossed, then several options of transition come to the table. The WCA confirms that we do not arrive at that table alone.”

Watch this special video message from Shane about this decision:

For more information, visit If you have questions, contact Mary Elizabeth Pittman.


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