Local Methodist Churches Successfully Disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church
In recent years, there has been a growing movement of Methodist churches to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church (UMC). This movement is due in large part to disagreements over the UMC’s stance on the authority of scripture. In 2019, the legislative body of the UMC, which is called the General Conference, voted to allow local churches to leave the denomination. At first, Bishop’s refused to allow local churches to leave. However, in 2021, the Judicial Council of the UMC mandated that local churches could use the process mandated at the 2019 General Conference to leave, thereby clearing the way for many churches to depart. While most Annual Conferences in the United States allowed a process for local churches to leave, many did not resulting in thousands of churches being trapped in a denomination that they do not want to be a part of, or embroiled in litigation.
As a result, many Methodist churches have gone through process of disaffiliating from the UMC. This process can be complex and time-consuming, but it has been successful for a number of churches.
What is Disaffiliation?
Disaffiliation is the process of a church leaving a denomination. In the case of the UMC, disaffiliation means that a church is no longer bound by the UMC’s Book of Discipline. This means that the church is free to set its own theological policies on biblical issues .
Why are Churches Disaffiliating?
There are a number of reasons why Methodist churches are disaffiliating from the UMC. Some churches believe that the UMC’s stance on homosexuality is unbiblical. Others believe that the UMC is too liberal and that it is no longer a true Methodist denomination. Still others believe that the UMC is too bureaucratic and that it is not responsive to the needs of its local churches.
How Does Disaffiliation Work?
The process of disaffiliation can vary depending on the UMC conference that a church is in. However, there are some general steps that all churches must follow. These steps include:
- A vote of the church membership: The church membership must vote to disaffiliate by a two-thirds majority.
- Negotiations with the UMC conference: The church must negotiate with the UMC conference to reach an agreement on the terms of disaffiliation. This agreement will typically include financial terms, as well as terms for the division of property.
- A final vote of the church membership: The church membership must once again vote to disaffiliate, this time by a three-fourths majority.
What are the Benefits of Disaffiliation?
There are a number of benefits to disaffiliation. These benefits include:
- Freedom: Disaffiliated churches are free to set their own policies on issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and social justice.
- Control: Disaffiliated churches are in control of their own future. They are no longer beholden to the UMC’s Book of Discipline.
- Autonomy: Disaffiliated churches are autonomous. They are not part of a larger denomination.
What are the Challenges of Disaffiliation?
There are also a number of challenges to disaffiliation. These challenges include:
- Cost: The process of disaffiliation can be expensive. Churches must pay legal fees, as well as financial settlements to the UMC.
- Time: The process of disaffiliation can be time-consuming. It can take several years for a church to complete the process.
- Division: Disaffiliation can be divisive. Not all members of a church will agree to disaffiliate. This can lead to conflict and division within the church.
Despite the challenges, many Methodist churches are choosing to disaffiliate from the UMC. These churches believe that the benefits of disaffiliation outweigh the challenges.
Here are some examples of local Methodist churches that have successfully disaffiliated from the UMC:
- Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Caledonia, Michigan
- Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Highpoint, North Carolina
- Christ United Methodist Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois
- Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco, California
These are just a few examples of the many Methodist churches that have successfully disaffiliated from the UMC. The movement of disaffiliation is likely to continue in the years to come