Congregational Meeting – Led by Rev. Dan Bowman
This informational meeting was to hear about what it would entail for our congregation to disaffiliat from The The United Methodist Church. The presenter was the Rev. Dan Bowman, pastor of Swartz Creek UMC.
Below is the content of a handout he provided which gave an general overview of the actions within the denomination which have brought us to where we are today.
The Present Situation
What: It appears likely that the UMC will remove the wording in the Book of Discipline which prohibits clergy from performing same sex marriages, prohibits churches from hosting same sex marriage cremonies, and the the prohibition of the ordination of self-proclaimed practicing homosexuals.
When: This may happen at the General Conference (GC) in May of 2024.
In the Year 2019: At the 2019 Special GC, there was a temporary paragraph, ¶2553, created that would allow churches that wished to disaffiliate from the UMC to leave by way of a 2/3 vote of the [professing] members present at a duly called charge conference with a financial cost to be determined by each annual conference. ¶2553 is set to expire at the end of the day, December 31, 2023. At that time, it was expected that there would be another general conferen ce in 2020 to approve some version of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation which would have, in theory, allowed for churches that wanted to remain as they were regarding human sexuality to exit free of charge to a newly formed Global Methodist Church. Congregations that were at peace with any change (removal of prohibitions) could stay in the “new” United Methodist Church.
The Catch: The pandemic came about and twice postponed the called GC of 2020 and the rescheduled GC of 2022. At that time, much of the support for the Protocol ceased and things changed dramatically. A number of traditional UM churches voted to leave the UMC and each annual conference formulated the process and fees for disaffiliation and the rules of ¶2553 were then applied in many different ways.
Therefore: According ¶2553, local congregations that are not happy with this change (removal of prohibitions) are being offered a limited time opportunity to exit the UMC with a 2/3 vote of the [Professing] Members present at a specially-called church conference. ¶2553 expires December 31, 2023. However, there is a significant cost to disaffiliate and there is a significant amount of work that has to be done to arrange this exit. There is also a deadline of November 30, 2023, when Michigan Conference UM churches will have a special annual conference to vote on all churches that are seeking to disaffiliate at that time.
Tentative and Unofficial Guide
- Gathering information for this process, including the fee that will need to be paid to disaffiliate. This [amount] must be obtained from the district superintendent at the pastor’s request.
- Gathering an honest response from a local congregation and staff to their feelings regarding which [Methodist-related] branch that they want to seek. Is there 2/3 member support to seek the next steps?
- If appropriate, seek a special-called church conference where 2/3 of the [professing] members present vote to disaffiliate.
- Paperwork needs to be completed and it is possible that some of the money being charged weill be due before the Trustees of the Annual Conference will continue the process.
- All paperwork must be completed at a designated time sufficiently before the November 30, 2023 special annual conference.
- Members of the annual conference votes on disaffiliation at the November 30, 2023 annual conference.
- Disaffiliation goes into effect TBA. The remaining balance for the exit fee is due on the date of disaffiliation.
The exact details of the process for disaffiliation should be obtained from your district superintendent in writing to insure accuracy.
Final Note: If/when the present standard for ordination is changed, there has been no indication of what the new standard will be. In other words, what will be the moral standard tht governs the United Methodist clergy in the realm of human sexuality activity? In my opinion, this is worthy of being noted and concerned about as it likely will become the next topic of debate sooner than later.