Can any approved decisions made at Jurisdictional Conference be put into effect before General Conference?
No. The Jurisdictional Conference does not determine the legislative practices and policies of the denomination. The Jurisdictional Conferences can only do what is permitted by the General Conference as outlined in the Book of Discipline.
What will the UMC do with all the churches that they will claim?
I’m not sure what the exact question is because neither the General Conference nor the Annual Conference is encouraging anyone to disaffiliate or to abandon their churches. There is no need for any congregation to leave or surrender their church.
Will the conference have a chance to vote on disaffiliation as a whole or will it be each local church voting on their future?
Once the General Conference meets and makes the decision to separate and offers terms for disaffiliation, each Annual Conference and each local church will be able to vote on the plan as set forth by the General Conference. It has NOT been decided that there will be a separation. A small group of folks, currently in the United Methodist church are launching a new denomination of like-minded people, but the General Conference has not reached a decision because they have not been able to meet.
Is it necessary for an official vote at a church conference to be taken to remain with IGRC?
No. There is nothing to be done at this point. There are no proposals or decisions facing any of our churches currently.
I want to know about the trust clause and if the church decides to disaffiliate what can we possibly be required to pay.
We do not want any church to disaffiliate!
Churches seeking to disaffiliate can expect to pay pension liability, two years of apportionments (if not currently up to date), and a negotiated portion of the total assets of the church. This is to ensure that United Methodist ministry and outreach can continue. It is also a recognition that we value the ministry plans of those seeking to separate and want them to be able to have resources to engage in mission and ministry.
How are you and the conference going to deal with Paragraph 2548.2 in the Book of Discipline and the issue of a comity agreement with the GMC, Free Methodist Church, etc.?
The two guiding paragraphs for disaffiliation will be 2553 and 2548.2. There is currently no agreement between the United Methodist Church and the Global Methodist Church.
Do you think that the protocol agreement or similar type of agreement will be approved at General Conference in 2024?
I am confident that the General Conference, whenever it meets, will arrive at some plan of amicable separation for those seeking another expression of methodism. I do not think that the Protocol, in its current form, will pass.
When a congregation votes a majority to withdrawal from The United Methodist Church, what happens for church membership for those who voted in the minority and do not want to withdraw?
The Trust Clause exists for such a case. If the determination is made that the United Methodist Church can continue and could thrive, the property and assets remain with the minority group and ministry is relaunched. There may be an agreement of sharing property and assets but those seeking to remain UM will retain the building and property as a United Methodist church / ministry.
If there is not sufficient strength for ministry to continue, church property and assets are negotiated, and members can select a nearby United Methodist church to transfer their membership and their assets to.
Can a church/pastor explore the options of disaffiliation with the DS?
Yes. It is highly recommended that the DS or the Conference Disaffiliation Team are contacted early and invited to share with the congregation. Unfortunately, some pastors and some laity have predetermined that they know what is best for everyone and have moved forward without all the information. I know of three churches where this has cost the church thousands of dollars that they did not need to waste on hiring a lawyer. The irony in it all is that they are no closer to disaffiliation then they were a year ago, yet they continue to accrue legal fees.
Where do you stand -- with the traditionalists or the Progressives?
Because I am eternally “yoked with Jesus” I choose to stand with him. Where he leads me, I will follow. This is my promise. I am not in any camp but pray that my name is in the Lord’s Book of Life!
Under what conditions might IGRC be responsible to pay into the unfunded liability of the total denomination's liability?
We are a connectional church, and we all share in the financial obligations of our denomination. This is also true of our ministry commitments.
Why are the churches who have been built on the foundation of the current Book of Discipline and want things to stay as they are the ones who have to disaffiliate and not the ones who want a change?
No one is being forced to leave the United Methodist church. I believe that the General Conference will find a way for us to stay together. Many others do not share this believe and some are calling for a new expression of Methodism prior to General Conference, the Global Methodist Church. While I understand the frustration, I believe this is premature. My advice is to simply wait and keep praying for clarity.
What do those of us who plan to stay need to know and share with our churches and colleagues?
Please share that the United Methodist church has not decided to split or to separate. The General Conference will meet when it is safe to do so and will consider legislation that might lead to division. This decision will be brought back to each Annual Conference and local congregation for final approval and implementation. Right now there is no need to make any decision to disaffiliate.
If a congregation negotiates to pay 2 years’ apportionments plus the pension liability owed -- does that have to be paid before Disaffiliation can take place or is it possible to work out a payment plan? If the latter, how long can that payment plan be for? i.e. 5 years, 10 years, or something else?
Each congregation will work with the Disaffiliation Team to determines the terms of the agreement. Any agreement will include the total assets. No property or assets will be released by the Conference until the terms of the agreement have been satisfied.
If there are endowments or a foundation linked directly to a church, what happens to those funds in event of separation or disaffiliation?
Each Foundation and Endowment has its own bylaws, including laws governing disbursal. The IGRC will abide by those terms even as we ensure that the United Methodist Trust Clause is upheld.
What is the timeline for which our congregation will have to decide on disaffiliation vs remaining? Secondly, is there a concise document that outlines what would change if we chose not to disaffiliate? Believe there are a lot of church members/leaders (self-including) that are unclear of the complexity and lasting implications of this decision.
There is currently no need for any church to make any decision regarding disaffiliation. There is no timeline or deadline that needs to be met. All that has happened is the postponement of General Conference until 2024. A small group of United Methodist brothers and sisters are choosing not to wait until the General Conference can meet and decide regarding a church split. That group is forming a new denomination, the Global Methodist church. This new entity has not been approved by the General Conference. Any church or pastor seeking to unite with the GMC is doing so without having any assurances or agreement with the United Methodist church. The terms of disaffiliation are based on the current Book of Discipline and are entered into because of a conscious choice by those who have decided to leave prematurely.
If a church leaves The United Methodist Church what happens to their assets including the church building?
All assets of a local United Methodist congregation are held “In Trust” on behalf of the denomination. That’s a fancy way of saying that every church belongs to the local congregation if the congregation chooses to be United Methodist. When a congregation decides to separate or to disaffiliate, the assets revert to the denomination. A local congregation will then need to negotiate with the Conference to retain a portion of those assets. The IGRC offers a Disaffiliation Team to assist with this process. Our hope is that churches will remain United Methodist and that our witness in every community will get stronger.
Will churches of under 100 memberships have any choice as to whether we join the Global Methodist or not?
There is no requirement for United Methodist churches of any size to unite with the Global Methodist Church. My understanding is that each church and each pastor seeking to become members in the GMC must be voted on and approved by the GMC leaders.
What is the future of my church?
The future of your church will be determined by those that are members and constituents. There is currently no need for you to decide anything, aside from praying fervently, reaching out with radical hospitality, giving cheerfully and generously, and above all, loving like Jesus! If you do those things, your future is bright.
Can the 2024 General Conference amend the discipline (161.G.) once the Global Methodist Church has been formed?
The General Conference and its decisions are not tied to the formation of the Global Methodist Church.
Any guidance for pastors starting new appointments this year?
Yes. Be a non-anxious presence for Jesus Christ! Spend much time in prayer. Preach powerful Holy Spirit anointed sermons. Model Christlikeness everywhere you go and in everything you do. Love your people unconditionally. Disciple them and teach them to reproduce spiritually. Find out what God is blessing and encourage it.
How many churches in our Conference have already or have indicated they will disaffiliate in 2020-2022?
There are about six churches in the disaffiliation process and about three that have legally disaffiliated.
What do you perceive are the advantages/disadvantages for small /rural congregations as it pertains to a connectional or independent status? Thank you, Bishop.
I believe in and support the United Methodist connectional system. Small churches within the United Methodist system have been able to do amazing things together. Small churches have been able to take a big part in changing lives around the world through our shared missions and ministry efforts. We have literally touched the world together through UMCOR, Africa University, Nothing but Nets, United Methodist Women projects and Schools of Missions, Midwest Distribution Center, and a host of designated outreach efforts. Together we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked and visited those sick and imprisoned.
Small independent churches struggle to keep their pulpits supplied and their focus on more than maintenance and survival. Connectional churches are never alone, and we have willing partners that help hold us accountable to sound doctrine and good standards.
Being independent is not all its cracked up to be. Sometimes the congregation is bullied or manipulated by a single controlling family. In our connectional system we have pastors to appoint or assign and local churches do not need a “search committee.” The UM church has a system that ensures that our pastors are properly vetted and trained as well as deployed for effectiveness. Our laity are trained and are encouraged to engage in mission and ministry outreach efforts for their respective communities.