I had a long talk this morning with a family member this morning because her congregation is considering disaffiliating. As we talked, I came up with some discussion points for churches, particularly rural churches, that are considering this move. While not exhaustive, I hope they might help churches who are having these discussions.
My understanding of the team’s conclusion can be summed up in a few words: disappointment with human failure. They appeared to be disappointed that various persons and groups within the denomination have violated clear mandates of The Book of Discipline. Why was I not surprised? I have been part of many groups whose perceived failures have been disappointing. Did that compel me to withdraw? Or could it be an invitation to remain and work for renewal and reform from within the structure?
I cannot in good conscience, cast a vote to disaffiliate in order to join a denomination that was established primarily to stop the discussion about human sexuality and deny the full inclusion of my LGBTQ+ friends and family into the church. I can’t and I won’t. At the very least, the UMC is still open to the discussion. Nor can I be a part of a denomination that has deemed it necessary to recruit clergy, members, and even whole churches through what I see as a pattern of deceit, fearmongering, and unfair maligning of my church. That is certainly not how Jesus taught us to treat each other.