To the Pastors and Laity of the Baltimore-Washington Conference:
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
The Special Session of General Conference held in 2019 created a path for churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. That path is codified in Para. 2553 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (BOD). This process is conducted through the local church and specifically through the church conference pursuant to Para. 248 of the BOD. (https://cdn.cokesbury.com/images/community/cokesburyportals/2016boderrata.pdf )
All professing members of the local church are afforded voice and vote at a duly called church conference. In order to ensure that those present and participating are in fact professing members of the church, it is appropriate for the district superintendent to have a current membership roster. This should be understood as an inherent part of the process to ensure that only those who are members of the local church are participating in such a critical discussion and vote.
Further, when the Baltimore-Washington Conference began this process, holding town halls and district gatherings to engage in discussions and listening sessions, it became clear that not all laity were receiving information in a timely manner. The conference was asked to ensure that as many people as possible received information on an ongoing basis. That has been achieved through various means, including additional conference-wide webinars and town halls, mailings, the conference website and district gatherings. The most important notification a member can receive is the call to participate in the church conference where information will be shared, questions will be answered and, if necessary, a vote will be taken. District offices must have current membership contact information to fulfill this responsibility.
It is imperative that this disaffiliation process be conducted with integrity by all parties involved. That cannot be achieved if all professing members of the local church are not given the opportunity to participate. Any effort to impede that participation jeopardizes the integrity of the process and could prevent a local church from completing the disaffiliation process.
Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling
The Cabinet of the Baltimore-Washington Conference
The Board of Trustees of the Baltimore-Washington Conference