Below is a press release from the Council of Bishops. Before reading it, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling wants to share these words with you:
Beloved of God,
I had the distinct privilege of joining other committed servants of God in a time of prayer, discernment, negotiation, and visioning for a way to transcend our denominational quagmire. Bishop Yambasu received an inspiration from the Holy Spirit and walked by faith into this process.
It is not perfect, but nothing ever is. We cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. This work provides a good and sustainable future for the Methodist movement and our Wesleyan heritage.
Everyone at the table contributed.
Everyone at the table made compromises to further the negotiations.
Everyone at the table believes it is time to move forward in love.
Please read The Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation for yourself. And then please read it again.
I am intentionally not providing a synopsis because I believe it is important for every individual invested in our denomination to read it for themselves.
After you have read it through at least twice, I recommend entering into a time of prayer, reflection, and listening for God’s voice.
After you have digested and reflected upon the Protocol, please access the FAQ link to gain more information. Also, you may request further clarification from anyone involved in the mediation process.
The signatories to this Protocol welcome your questions, prayers, and support.
January 3, 2020
(Washington, D.C.): A diverse group of representatives from United Methodist advocacy groups with contrasting views and bishops from around the world has collaborated on a proposed agreement for the separation of The United Methodist Church (UMC) that has the unanimous support of all the parties involved.
The agreement, the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, was achieved on December 17, 2019 and announced today.
The action comes amid heightened tensions in the church over conflicting views related to human sexuality after the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference failed to resolve differences among church members.
Legislation to implement the Protocol statement – an eight-page document detailing the terms of a split of the 13+ million-member denomination – is expected to come before the United Methodist General Conference for a vote at their legislative meeting in Minneapolis, Minn. in May 2020.
The 16-member group came together as an outgrowth of a consultation initiated by bishops from Central Conferences located outside the United States. The parties sought assistance from prominent attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who specializes in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Feinberg, who served as Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund along with a number of other complex matters, agreed to provide his services pro bono.
Meeting over several months, the unofficial group reached an agreement by signatories associated with all of the constituencies within the UMC for a mutually supported pathway for separation, bridging differences among other plans to be considered by the General Conference. “The undersigned propose restructuring The United Methodist Church by separation as the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person,” says the protocol statement.
The document’s signers include representatives from Europe, Africa, the Philippines, and the United States, and include persons representing UMCNext; Mainstream UMC; Uniting Methodists; The Confessing Movement; Good News; The Institute on Religion & Democracy; the Wesleyan Covenant Association; Affirmation; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Reconciling Ministries Network; and the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus; as well as bishops from the United States and across the world. The representatives have pledged to work together to support the proposal and develop legislation to implement it.
The Protocol anticipates the formation of a new traditionalist Methodist denomination. Once formed, the new church would receive $25 million over the next four years and give up further claim to the UMC’s assets. An additional $2 million would be allocated for potential additional new Methodist denominations which may emerge from the UMC. Acknowledging the historical role of the Methodist movement in systematic racial violence, exploitation and discrimination, the Protocol would allocate $39 million to ensure there is no disruption in supporting ministries for communities historically marginalized by racism.
Under the protocol, conferences and local congregations could vote to separate from The United Methodist Church to affiliate with new Methodist denominations created under the agreement within a certain time frame. Churches wishing to stay within the UMC would not be required to conduct a vote. Provisions exist for entities that choose to separate to retain their assets and liabilities. All current clergy and lay employees would keep their pensions regardless of the Methodist denomination with which they affiliate.
Under the Protocol, all administrative or judicial processes addressing restrictions in the United Methodist Book of Discipline related to self-avowed practicing homosexuals or same-sex weddings as well as actions to close churches would be held in abeyance until the separation is completed. The protocol also references a plan which calls for a special general conference of the post-separation United Methodist Church. The purpose of the Special Session would be to create regional conferences, remove the current prohibitions against LGBTQ persons, and to repeal the Traditional Plan.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Bishop John Yambasu (Sierra Leone) stated, “All of us are servants of the church and realize that we are not the primary decision makers on these matters. Instead, we humbly offer to the delegates of the 2020 General Conference the work which we have accomplished in the hopes that it will help heal the harms and conflicts within the body of Christ and free us to be more effective witnesses to God’s Kingdom.”
The signatories to the Protocol have provided a FAQ document to provide additional information about the agreement. Comments and questions may be directed to the signatories at .
A live stream event will take place on Monday, January 13th to provide further clarity and explanations of the plan by members of the Mediation Team.
This statement is being released by the Council of Bishops Office on behalf of the Mediation Team members.
Responses from various church groups and caucuses are linked, below.
Members of the Mediation Team
- Bishop Christian Alsted ( ), Nordic-Baltic Episcopal Area
- Rev. Thomas Berlin ( ), representing UMCNext, Mainstream UMC, Uniting Methodists
- Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton ( ), New York Episcopal Area
- Rev. Keith Boyette ( ), representing The Confessing Movement, Good News, IRD/UM Action, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association
- Bishop Kenneth H. Carter ( ), Florida Episcopal Area
- Rev. Junius Dotson ( ), representing UMCNext, Mainstream UMC, United Methodists
- Bishop LaTrelle Easterling ( ), Washington Episcopal Area
- Rev. Egmedio “Jun” Equila, Jr. ( ), Philippines Central Conference
- Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey ( ), Louisiana Episcopal Area
- Bishop Rodolfo Rudy Juan ( ), Davao Episcopal Area, Philippines
- Janet Lawrence ( ), representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network
- Rev. David Meredith ( ), representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network, member of UM Queer Clergy Caucus
- Patricia Miller ( ), representing The Confessing Movement, Good News, IRD/UM Action, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association
- Dr. Randall Miller ( ), representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network
- Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer ( ), Ohio West Episcopal Area
- Bishop John K. Yambasu ( ), Sierra Leone Episcopal Area
For questions or comments, please contact: .
Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church