Informational Resources Regarding UMC Disaffiliation
As I mentioned last Sunday, I have put together a list of resources to share with you about the United Methodist Church split and the process for leaving the UMC, which is called “disaffiliation.” This issue revolves around the marriage and ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexual members of the UMC. If you are not yet up to speed on this issue, do not worry. No decision has been made at this time. I am providing information below, in both print and video, and I will explain our next steps in making a decision.
Before I do, however, I would like you to know that I consider it my duty to help you to discern the best path forward for our church. It is my sincere desire that First UMC will not just survive this trial but I pray you thrive and emerge stronger in your faith. My prayer is that we will thoughtfully and lovingly address this issue so that we can lean into what is coming next. To help us along the way, I have made effort to assemble a concise account of the issue, along with a balance of progressive and traditionalist opinions. While I aim to present this information impartially, I need to clearly state that, whichever future First UMC of Many wishes to pursue, my intention at this time is to remain in ministry with the United Methodist Church. Please know that Monica and I did not easily arrive to this decision. So, while I make effort to present these resources impartially, I do not claim to be unbiased.
Please be in prayer for our church and leaders during this stressful time. In the weeks to come, our discernment team will visit with every member of our Church who wants to be heard. These sessions will take place in small groups and will center on a set of questions that everyone will be asked. The team will first visit with our established small groups, Sunday school classes, etc. We will then offer open sessions for sign up. As I presently understand the process as provided by our District Superintendent, all findings from these listening sessions will be presented to the Administrative Council, who then determine whether the issue will proceed to a church-wide vote (please note: Administrative Council is not a closed meeting. Any member is welcome to attend). I am confident that we will be able to hold this meeting before the end of the year. Should the Admin Council choose to proceed with the church-wide vote, all members on the rolls must be notified and invited to participate in a special administrative meeting, called a “Charge Conference”.
Disaffiliation can only occur after all above requirements are met and a Charge Conference vote by attending members results in a 2/3 majority.
I am available to to answer any questions you may have after reviewing the information above and the links below. Of course, there is much more material available on the subject. My intention is to provide accurate, concise, and balanced information. If you receive or search for additional information related to this issue, please keep in mind that there are extreme claims, half-truths, and exaggerations on both sides; often from biased and unreliable sources. I present these links as reliable and in no particular order. Browse them as you are able:
Read: The United Methodist Church in mainstream news (2022)
- A Messy Methodist Church Schism (Wall Street Journal, August 2022)
- United Methodist Bishops Acknowledge Breakup is Immanent (ABC News, April 2022)
Watch: Straightforward reporting about Christian denominations, without commentary. (Please note the dates of publication. There have been developments since these were published.)
- United Methodist Church Split: What’s Going on in 2022? (Ready to Harvest, January 2022)
- Just Announced: The Global Methodist Church (Ready to Harvest, March 2021)
Read: An in-depth history of this issue from a conservative-leaning Christian blog (August, 2022):
Read: From the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church:
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Global Methodist Church
- “Critical Articles” posted on the WCA website
Watch: my own personal and trusted friends offer differing opinions:
- Jessica LaGrone in favor of the Global Methodist Church
- Weldon Bares in favor of the United Methodist Church
- Weldon’s full episode on the Louisiana Now podcast is here
Finally, here is the wording of paragraph 2553 in our Book of Discipline, which outlines the current disaffiliation procedure.
One word about what might happen after disaffiliation, should it occur: Our church could make plans to affiliate with the GMC or another denomination from the Methodist/Wesleyan tradition, or choose to be independent. To be clear, there will be challenges to face whether First UMC of Many leaves or stays with the UMC. Through no fault of your own, I see no “easy” way forward, despite what voices from either side continuously promise. Though I have made my intentions known, I consider myself the pastor to this entire congregation and I will continue to work for your wellbeing and unity for so long as I am able.
Grace and peace,
Brian Coplin, Pastor
First UMC of Many, LA