Submitted questions and Bishop's response

Persons registering for the Forums on Disaffiliation were invited to submit questions to Bishop Frank Beard. The following are those questions and Bishop Beard's response to them. At the bottom of the page, you can click to additional pages for more questions and answers.

What would be reliable information we can share with our congregations regarding what to expect from the UMC going forward between now and GC2024 and after?

The first thing to share is that the decision to postpone General Conference has little to no direct affect upon the local church.  No decision regarding separation or the future direction or expression of the United Methodist Church has been made. We remain “United Methodist.” We remain committed to our mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

There is no reason to panic or to raise any alarms. The recent announcement of the formation of the Global Methodist Church has no bearing on the operations of the IGRC or those of the United Methodist denomination. The GMC is a new denomination being formed and is not yoked with the United Methodist Church.

The General Conference will decide at its next gathering, regarding a possible separation, and there will be a massive sharing of information, including individual and church options for any plan that is adopted.  Any decision made at General Conference will be brought to our Annual Conference and our folks will get to discuss and vote on accepting or rejecting any plans for separation.

Hold steady, pray for your leaders, strengthen the ministries of your local Church, and trust our process.

What will the UMC's position be on those delegates to GC who have been public about their intentions to leave the denomination for the GMC? Does the Book of Discipline have any guidance on the conflict of interest that creates, even though they haven't formally transferred their membership?

A person that has been duly elected has the right to attend the Conference / Conferences that they were elected to attend. They attend, however, as a member of a delegation representing an Annual Conference. Delegates do not have to vote alike or think alike, but each delegate is expected to represent, to the best of their ability, their annual conference.

If a person is elected to serve as a delegate and feel they cannot fulfill the sacred trust that was placed in them, then they should resign. If a person knows and have make public awareness that they will not be a part of the UMC, or of the Annual Conference, moving forward, then they should resign.

What happens if a church decides to disaffiliate, and a pastor chooses to stay with the United Methodist Church and vice versa?

All United Methodist Churches will have an appointed or assigned pastor, or person designated to oversee the life of the church. If the church decides to disaffiliate, upon successful completion of the disaffiliation process, they will no longer have an appointed or assigned pastor from the United Methodist Church. Pastors are appointed by the bishop and, depending upon their individual status, are guaranteed an appointment. All pastors remaining with the UMC will have places to serve.

Once the GC makes the decision on how to move forward, what happens next? And how long will the process last?

If there is a decision to separate, the plan of separation will need to be approved by each Annual Conference, in each part of our world-wide church. The process could take years, even though the effect date could be established by the General Conference to take effect immediately.

If a clergy or lay member is serving on a transitional team, a board of trustees, or other leadership position of another established/launched denomination, how will that affect their credentials/membership status? For example, can someone be both a recognized member of the UMC, and also a recognized member of the GMC, and in either case, what will that look like for the UMC?

United Methodist Clergy cannot hold membership in another denomination. UM Clergy cannot hold dual ordination. If a UM Clergy person unites with another denomination, they effectively forefelt / surrender their credentials in the United Methodist Church.

Laity are not held to as strict a standard but are expected to honor their membership vows.

What resources and books do you recommend for helping our congregations to weather through this time of uncertainty?

The Book of Acts (Holy Bible), Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, Ready, Set, Plant! By Curtis Brown, Bener Agtarap, Praying in the Name of Jesus for 21 Centuries by Terry Teykl, and Evangelism for Non-Evangelists: Sharing the Gospel Authentically by Mark R. Teasdale. These books are all geared toward keeping our focus on our main mission.

What difference will the Global Methodist Church be in comparison to The United Methodist Church currently? Structure, theology, etc.

I cannot answer that question as I am not a part of the Global Methodist Church. My understanding is that they will seek recognition as part of the Wesleyan family.

Do you have any sense as to how many churches in our Conference may disaffiliate? Do you have any sense as to how many clergy in our Conference may disaffiliate? What about entire conferences or, say, all of Liberia?

There are currently no African Annual Conferences that have announced plans to join the Global Methodist Church. There are no Central Conference Bishops leaving either. I do not know of any IGRC clergy that have declared their intent to leave, at this time. Several have shown an interest or have made suggestions that they are leaning towards the Global Methodist Church. There is no rush or urgency for anyone to leave the United Methodist church. My advice is to be patient and to wait until there is an agreement that will ensure the transfer of ordination and license for clergy and a property agreement for churches.

Since General Conference is now set for 2024, is there a moratorium/On Hold on all prospective disaffiliations for those churches wanting to leave the Denomination? And if these churches disaffiliate and leave the UMC before 2024 Session, what will the ramifications /consequences be for these churches?

My hope is that pastors and churches will move away from plans to disaffiliate until after the General Conference has decided and recommends a course of action and there are clear pathways for churches to choose.  Any decisions that are made right now are premature and may result in unnecessary costs.

The Book of Discipline does not allow for a moratorium on disaffiliation. And it cannot know the specific terms of any forthcoming negotiations that could save local churches thousands of dollars by temporarily relaxing the Trust Clause.

What impacts will any of this have on the local churches or our Conference? (Will there be a "clergy shuffle" to encourage or discourage churches)?

I believe the biggest impact right now is the creation of undue anxiety and angst among our churches.  There are no decisions that local churches, or pastors need to be making right now. We will not “shuffle” clergy or redeploy clergy any more than we are currently doing to address ongoing ministry needs.

IN THE EVENT OF A RESIGNATION of a GC Delegate to General Conference, will there be an appointment to fill the vacancy from the home district of that delegate or will there be an election at Annual Conference? Thank you

The 2020 slate of delegates are still “seated” and will represent the IGRC. There is a disciplinary formula for replacing any delegate that cannot or chooses not to serve. No new election is necessary. Elected Clergy can only be replaced by elected clergy and laity by laity, and always in order of election.

With “The Protocol” being shelved for the next 2 years due to the postponement of GC, will churches in the IGRC have a gracious exit plan available similar to what is found in the proposed Protocol?

The “Protocol” has not been approved by General Conference and is not a binding agreement, it is proposed legislation that will be presented to General Conference.  The IGRC will follow the current Book of Discipline and its allowances for exiting.

If a Pastor is nearing retirement and the church he/she is serving chooses to go with the Global Methodist Church, but the church and the pastor would like that appointment to continue, is there a way that can happen? Is there a way to finish out years of service without changing denominations? Some sort of grandfather clause, etc.? Or would the pastor have to transfer or retire with one or two years left?

Those are excellent questions that can only be answered in the context of an agreement ratified and approved by General Conference. It is also further proof that folks need to wait before rushing into this new denomination. Any United Methodist pastor that becomes a member of the Global Methodist Church is in fact committing an act that effectively surrenders his or her credentials. This includes active and retired clergy.

How will disaffiliation affect extension ministries and missions?

The institutions and ministries related to the United Methodist church will continue in their relationship if they do not seek disaffiliation. United Methodist clergy serving will continue to be appointed if they do not change their membership status.

How many churches have expressed their desire to disaffiliate? How will this affect apportionments for those churches that choose to stay?

There are about six churches that are currently in the process of disaffiliation. At this point the financial impact will be minimal. The long-term effect remains unknown. One of the reasons that the IGRC is requiring two years of apportionment payments is to help reduce any crippling effect on our ongoing ministries.

Why do you repeatedly set up "focusing on the mission" as contrary to having conversations with the congregation about the best future for the local church?

Because I strongly believe that the mission is the main thing. When we are mission focused, we have a positive plan that has propelled the church forward for over two thousand years. I believe that the enemy of the Christian faith delights in getting our focus on what is best for us as individual Christians or as an individual congregation.

Are our church leaders going to hold accountable those who are in direct defiance of the rules and regulations of the book of discipline of The United Methodist Church?

I cannot speak for anyone other than myself. My pledge is to, with the help of the Lord, model Christlike behavior and to uphold our Book of Discipline.

Do we really need to say any more to our congregations when nothing has changed at this point? Is IGRC even considering leaving? Do we need to inform our congregations on what's taking place or hold on to the discussions since General Conference has been postponed?

We need to keep our congregations informed and we need to make sure that we share information that is clear and accurate. One clear message that we can share is that there are currently no decisions that need to be made regarding the congregation’s future. When the General Conference meets, we will have representatives from the IGRC that will vote on legislation and will bring a full report back to our Annual Conference so that we can make wise informed decisions.

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