disaffiliation

disaffiliation

Disaffiliation

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A Note from Brother John miles

Dear Friends,

On March 27, 2022, our Administrative Board voted overwhelmingly to move into a process for disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church.  This process will include 3 listening sessions, among other things.  Our first listening session will be on May 15 at 5 pm and it will be led by our Bishop and District Superintendent.  We will have another session on Monday, May 23 at 6 pm and then another Sunday session on June 12 at 5 pm.  All our meetings will be in Wesley Hall.  At the end of this process, we will have a Church Conference for all our church members.  At that meeting, all church members are eligible to vote on the question of disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church.  Disaffiliation would require a two-thirds vote of professing members present at the Church Conference.

Overwhelming feedback from members of our congregation indicates a preference to be a part of a Traditional Methodist Church. The Global Methodist Church launched May 1, 2022, and offers fundamentally the same Methodist/Wesleyan Doctrine we have historically followed as United Methodists, but does not require a trust clause. The Global Methodist Church also allows for greater freedom in clergy selection, as well as lower apportionment payments.

Obviously, this is a poignant and transformational time in the life of this congregation.  Please make plans to be at our three listening sessions.  Please feel free to email me if you have questions.  Please treat others who might disagree with you with the care of brothers and sisters in Christ.  Most of all, please pray daily for your church as we struggle to discern what “Putting Jesus First”, might mean in this difficult situation. 

Yours in Christ,

John

Brief history

In January of 2021, the Administrative Board established a leadership team to explore our relationship with our denomination. After months of meetings, with denominational and other church leaders, including Bishop Gary Mueller and District Superintendent John Fleming, progressive and traditional pastors, the leadership team recommended to the Administrative Board to have two town halls to educate our congregation on the issues and to take a straw poll to reveal the desires of our congregation with regard to remaining in the UMC. The Administrative Board approved this recommendation. On December 5, 2021, our church held a straw poll of professing members present at the second town hall meeting. The results of that poll are below.

STRAW POLL

I would like our church to…
____ remain in a more progressive post – separation UMC.
____ depart and join a more traditional Methodist community
RESULTS
Total Votes: 356
Votes to Remain: 48 (13.5%), Votes to Depart: 289 (81.2%), Abstentions: 19 (5.3%)


On March 3, 2022, the Commission on the General Conference announced that General Conference scheduled for the fall of 2022 would not be held. The next General Conference is scheduled for 2024. Therefore, the Protocol of Separation cannot even be considered until 2024.

On March 20, 2022, we received the Principles Regarding Local Church Requests for Disaffiliation Ratified by the Arkansas Annual Conference June 4, 2021, from Bishop Mueller (hereinafter referred to as the “Principles” document). This “Principles” document sets out the process for local churches to leave the UMC through disaffiliation.

PURSUING THE “SPIRIT OF THE PROTOCOL” THROUGH DISAFFILIATION AS SET FORTH IN THE “PRINCIPLES” DOCUMENT

On March 27, 2022, our Leadership Team met and voted thirteen to one to recommend to begin the process of disaffiliation. Our Administrative Board met and overwhelmingly voted to begin the process of disaffiliation as set forth in the “Principles” document. This process will include listening sessions and a church wide vote. Accordingly, a letter regarding our intention to begin the disaffiliation process was sent to Bishop Mueller and District Superintendent John Fleming on March 27, 2022. A section of this letter reads as follows:

“We rely on the reasons set forth in paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline as the basis of disaffiliation. As you know, the Judicial Council issued Decision No. 1422 which provided that a Conference may not question for, “reasons of conscience” its decision concerning disaffiliation. Accordingly, there should be no need for further inquiry into the actions or inactions that support our certification. Nonetheless, should an explanation be required we offer the following in support of our request for disaffiliation: Although the “Traditional Plan” emerged victorious at the last General Conference, many annual conferences in the United States have failed to follow it. They have failed to follow the Book of Discipline regarding issues of human sexuality. We believe these actions and inactions are inconsistent with scripture and with Church law.”

Please click here to see the entire letter.

The “Principles” document requires a process of discernment for a minimum of three months. It also provides for three listening sessions, affirmation of disaffiliation by two-thirds majority of professing members of our church, and the preparation of a Disaffiliation Agreement between the Arkansas Conference and the local church trustees. The “Principles” document also states that a simple majority approval vote by Annual Conference is necessary to ratify the motion for disaffiliation. Please take a look at the 3 page “Principles” document for a complete description.

On March 27, 2022, the Administrative Board created a committee to oversee the smooth transition regarding the process of disaffiliation. Members of the congregation are invited to contact members of the Advisory Committee (click here) with questions or feedback concerning the listening sessions.

TIME LINE following notification of intent to disaffiliate

April 1
The District Superintendent sent an email to our church acknowledging receipt of our email and letter of intention dated March 29, 2022.

April 8
The District Superintendent emailed our church the following:
(1) A letter to our church leaders to notify us that the three month discernment period started on March 29th and included discussion concerning disaffiliation;
(2) a copy of the Book of Discipline paragraph 2553 (expires December 2023), and
(3) Principles Regarding Local Church Requests for Disaffiliation Ratified by the Arkansas Annual Conference June 4, 2021.

April 12
The Center for Communication for Arkansas UMC sent an email containing a video from Bishop Mueller, a slide show with a script, a FAQ sheet, and a closing prayer. (Click here to access the link.) The FAQ sheet has a total of nineteen questions and answers. The first question and answer reads as follows:

“1. Why is there suddenly so much talk about division in the United Methodist Church? What are the reasons that have led to it happening?
● It may seem sudden, but the United Methodist Church has been building towards this moment for 50 years because of significant differences related to the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in the life of the United Methodist Church.
● The recent cancellation of the rescheduled 2020 General Conference means neither the agreed-upon separation agreement entitled “Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation” that had been negotiated to provide an easy and orderly exit for traditionalists nor any other plan that might be adopted can be implemented until after the 2024 General Conference. With the announced May 1 formation of the Global Methodist Church, some congregations are unwilling to wait any longer to exit the denomination.
● While the presenting issue is whether homosexuality is compatible with Christian teaching, and LGBTQIA+ individuals should be married or ordained, the underlying issue revolves around the interpretation of Scripture, theological differences and concerns about the enforcement of The Book of Discipline.

(Emphasis added)

Click here for the full FAQ sheet

April 12
The “Principles” document sets forth the formula for calculating the costs for local churches to disaffiliate. The formula proposed indicates churches must be current on apportionments (conference tithe) and pay one additional year of apportionments (conference tithe) along with the church’s pro rata share of any aggregate unfunded pension obligations to the Annual Conference.

Our current annual apportionment (church tithe estimate) is $238,411.00.

Calculations provided by the conference on April 12, 2022 indicated our church’s portion of the aggregate unfunded pension obligation is $1,036,833.92.

Calculations provided by the conference in November of 2021 indicated our church’s portion of the aggregate unfunded pension obligation to only be $493,162.15.

We are currently waiting for further clarification regarding the $543,671.77 difference in these calculations regarding unfunded pension obligation.

April 29

The District Superintendent emailed a letter to be mailed from our church to the congregation. This letter informs our church that Bishop Mueller and District Superintendent Fleming will present at the first listening session on May 15th. This letter was mailed to our church members on May 5, 2022. To read this letter in its entirety, please click on this link. District Superintendent Fleming also emailed our church an “initial response letter”. This letter is being sent to all churches seeking disaffiliation.


May 1
The Global United Methodist Church officially launched. To view the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline, the beliefs and governance, and other information on the Global Methodist Church visit this link.

May 5

We received a text message from Bishop Mueller containing a new calculation from the Arkansas UMC indicating that our church’s portion of the aggregate unfunded pension obligation to be $399,574.54.

May 14
Tod Burris from the ARUMC emailed the revised estimate liability calculation for Jonesboro First. This calculation indicates our church’s portion of the aggregate unfunded pension obligation to be $399,574.54.

May 15
The first “listening session” will occur at 5:00 in Wesley Hall. Bishop Mueller will be speaking and our District Superintendent John Fleming will present. The
“Principles” document requires attendance to be taken and a report to be prepared for each listening session.

First Church was asked to provide the following documents at the listening session: the Exit Liability Calculation provided on May 14, a Disaffiliation FAQ sheet, and the Major Steps in the ¶2553 Disaffiliation Process.

Watch the first listening session by clicking here.

May 23
The second listening session is scheduled at 6:00 p.m. in Wesley Hall.

Our second listening session will include a discussion comparing the options of remaining in the UMC and joining the GMC. A speaker representing each option will give a presentation. An opportunity for the audience to ask questions will follow. Katie Pearce, pastor of FUMC Batesville, will speak on remaining in the UMC. Jeff Warrick, pastor of the Journey – United Methodist Congregation in Cabot, will speak on joining the GMC.

June 12
The third listening session is scheduled at 5:00 p.m. in Wesley Hall.

July 24 or 31 – Requested Dates for Church Conference
Following completion of the listening sessions, a Church Conference will be held and professing members who are physically present will be able to vote on the future of our church. The vote must pass with a two-thirds majority in order for the church to disaffiliate.

August 2022 (tentative)
Bishop Mueller plans to call a special Arkansas Conference Meeting in August to allow for a conference vote to release those churches that have completed the process for disaffiliation according to the “Principles” document.

Additional Information

Global Methodist Church

Overwhelming feedback from members of our congregation indicates a preference to be a part of a Traditional Methodist Church. The Global Methodist Church launched May 1, 2022, and offers fundamentally the same doctrine we have historically followed as United Methodists, but does not require a trust clause. The Global Methodist Church also allows for greater freedom in clergy selection, as well as lower apportionment payments.

Below you will find basic information about the Global Methodist Church with links you can follow to better understand the way it will function. 

Quick links for information on the global Methodist church