Q&A from Disaffiliation Webinar
The following questions were posed at the April 23 webinar “Stay or Go: Real Talk for United Methodists Exploring Their Future.
Q: Are there other denominations besides the Global Methodist Church being proposed?
A: We are The United Methodist Church and there is no plan to dissolve this body.
Since the special session of General Conference in 2019, a handful of different groups have attempted to form alternative denominations within the Wesleyan tradition. To date, the only body that has officially been created is the Global Methodist Church, launched May 1 as a separately incorporated and governed denomination, with no official ties to the UMC.
Q: Can United Methodist Annual Conferences and congregations leave the denomination for the Global Methodist Church?
A: The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline does not provide a pathway for annual conferences to leave the denomination. The Council of Bishops has asked for a ruling of the Judicial Council (the denominations' top court) to determine if it is legal for an annual conference to leave. There are mechanisms in The Book of Discipline which enable congregations to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church, under limited circumstances.
Professing members of The United Methodist Church may transfer their membership to other denominations or willingly withdraw their membership from the UMC at any time. Clergy members may not hold membership in more than one denomination. If they wish to disaffiliate from the UMC, clergy would be required to withdraw membership and surrender their orders or otherwise transfer their orders to a denomination which would recognize their credentials.
Q: Will the Baltimore-Washington Conference be part of the Global Methodist Church? Will churches be able to vote on this change, or is it all cut and dry that everyone must join the Global Methodist Church?
A: No, the Baltimore-Washington Conference and the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, and all its clergy and professing members belong to The United Methodist Church,
There is currently no mechanism for an annual conference to change affiliation and move to a different denomination. Only individual persons, and congregations who meet the requirements, may disaffiliate from the UMC.
Q: Will there be a separate Book of Discipline?
A: The United Methodist Book of Discipline holds all the laws, plans, polity, and process by which United Methodists govern themselves. The only body that can change it are the delegates at a General Conference session. No other denomination is bound by the Discipline. The Global Methodist Church is a separately incorporated organization and therefore has its own independent rules of governance.
Q: How is this related to the "Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation"?
A: The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation is the title of a piece of legislation that was proposed for the 2020 session of the General Conference. This petition suggests ways that United Methodists with irreconcilable differences might find a way to reconcile. Due to the postponement of the 2020 General Conference, this legislation has not been acted upon. There is no guarantee that the proposed petition will be passed as originally drafted.
When it comes before the next session of General Conference, as with all proposed petitions, it will be debated in committee, which can amend before it is presented to the entire body for further debate and vote. While there are many who would like to proceed as though we are governed by "the Protocol" it is not a part of our governance.
Q: If a church or conference decides to go with the Global Methodist Church, how would this happen and what will the UMC expect of them?
A: Again, there is no mechanism for an annual conference to join the Global Methodist Church. If a professing member chooses to join the Global Methodist Church, just as if a member were to join any other religious organization, they would either transfer their membership (if the denominational polity allows for that), or they would withdraw their membership from their local UMC and follow entry requirements to the GMC for membership. If a clergy member chooses to join the GMC, they would surrender their credentials in the UMC and follow entry requirements for credentialing in the GMC
Q: Will the Global Methodist Church and United Methodist Church make up one conference? Before the pandemic, individual churches were going to vote rather to stay or leave the conference, I assume that no longer exists. Is that correct?
A: The Global Methodist Church and United Methodist Church are each separately incorporated denominations. They currently have no legal connection or shared entities. The Global Methodist Church will not be a part of The United Methodist Church; its members will not hold membership in United Methodist churches, nor will they be voting members of Annual, Jurisdictional, or General Conferences.
United Methodist lay and clergy continue to be members of The United Methodist Church until/unless they choose to unite with another denomination. Any congregation that leaves the denomination will no longer be able to use the name “United Methodist” or the cross-and-flame logo, and will surrender its non-profit status under the IRS group ruling granted to the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist church.
Q: Will churches have to choose between the Global Methodist Church and The United Methodist Church? If they do not choose, what happens?
A: No, a church does not need to make a choice. If a congregation takes no action, it remains a part of The United Methodist Church.
Q: Will there be a similar webinar on the disaffiliation process?
A: No, materials for disaffiliation can be found on each conference website. Contact your district superintendent if you have questions or are considering disaffiliation.