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The Exodus Continues: South Georgia UM Pastor Moving to Greener Pastures in Mother Church of John and Charles Wesley

Over the past few months, I have hinted to several of my friends and colleagues that I am on the verge of doing something radically different; that God is calling me to a new endeavor in ministry. Invariably, the initial response of just about everyone with whom I spoke was a simple but direct question: "Are you leaving the United Methodist Church?"

To answer that question with a simple "yes" is, I believe, somewhat misleading. I am not so much leaving one particular church as I am seeking a fuller expression and embodiment of the Church. My new ecclesiastical home, beginning next year, will be the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), a missionary outreach of the Anglican Archdiocese of Rwanda under the episcopal supervision of Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini. The missionary zeal and passion for the lost which fueled the early Methodist movement are alive and well in the AMiA and I am very excited about becoming involved in their church planting efforts in my home state of South Carolina.

I realize that this news will come as a shock and a disappointment to many of my friends in the South Georgia Conference and elsewhere across the United Methodist connection. But my decision to return to the Mother Church of John and Charles Wesley comes after a long and often agonizing process of prayer and discernment. I am not leaving the UMC for any of what might be considered the obvious reasons. Overwhelmingly, it is the positive aspects of the AMiA drawing me in, moreso than the negative aspects of the UMC driving me out. I must be obedient to God and follow wherever he leads me. This is the call of God upon my life; of that I am absolutely certain. Throughout this whole process, I have been in awe of how his hand has been at work, opening one door after another.

I am firmly convinced that, through AMiA and other similar movements, God is ushering in a new era for the church in North America. Freed from the bloated bureaucracies and suffocating infrastructures of mainline Protestantism, the Emerging Church, as it is now being called, is going to be more vibrant and robust, empowered by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ creatively and effectively with the emerging culture.

I will continue to speak to the wider Wesleyan community through the WesleyVoice website and weblog. You can rest assured that my passion for Scriptural Christianity will continue to find full expression in my new ecclesiastical home.

To all with whom I have stood and who have stood with me in contending for the faith in the UMC, I extend my sincerest thanks. You will always be in my prayers. Although we go our separate ways, we will always share in the one hope and the one faith that is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, world without end.

Yours in Christ,

James A. Gibson III 

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