The Judicial Council, the Supreme Court of The United Methodist Church, held that the legislation adopted by the General Conference in February 2019 providing a path for churches to leave the denomination is constitutional. There is now a path out of the denomination for local churches who desire to leave. The decision is here.
We Have a Gracious Exit
The Council of Bishops asked the Judicial Council to rule on a disaffiliation provision for local churches passed by General Conference in its closing minutes. In Decision 1379 the court upheld the plan as meeting the three basic requirements: (1) A 2/3 vote of a charge conference and church conference, (2) Approval of terms and conditions by the conference board of trustees, and (3) Approval by the annual conference.
Although the legislation itself does not include the third element, it was successfully argued this piece is found elsewhere in the Discipline [¶ 2529.1(b)(3)] which makes the plan constitutional nonetheless. The Taylor Disaffiliation Petition as amended creates a process for exit that is immediately in effect. (As opposed to the other matters passed at GC2019 which are effective on 1/1/2020). We now have a Gracious Exit. The functionality of the Gracious Exit will depend, however, upon the good will of the annual conference. This will mean that the functionality of the exit will not be universal.
The new Gracious Exit requires payment of apportionments for the past twelve months and an additional twelve months. The congregation must satisfy their share of the pension liability as calculated by Wespath. With the approvals needed, congregations may leave with all their assets. This exit path is temporary, expiring December 31, 2023.
Contact one of the professionals at Dalton & Tomich PLC to assist your local church in evaluating the plan.
FREE GUIDE: LEAVING THE METHODIST CHURCH
We developed this free guide to answer many of your questions about leaving the United Methodist Church. Let the attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC help you lead your congregation to a new beginning.