Clergy Discernment Information
 

The clergy who serve in the Texas Annual Conference will be making important decisions in the coming months regarding the future of their ministry.  A number will choose to remain in the UMC.   Others, however, may choose to find a place of service in the Global Methodist Church or other evangelical denomination; or to serve in an independent congregation.  For those who make that decision, it will be important to carefully weigh how this step impacts their call to ministry, current appointment, family, salary, health benefits, and retirement.   These are all considerations each pastor will want to research and deeply understand.

This Clergy Discernment Packet is designed to give you clear and accurate information about how to proceed. For further information, contact your District Superintendent or email Clergyquestions@txcumc.org.

If you wish to remain in the United Methodist Church and your current church stays as well, then you won’t need to do anything.

If you are serving a church that starts the process to exit and your desire is to remain with the UMC, you will need to notify your district superintendent to let them know.   The Bishop and Cabinet will then decide where your future lies. If there are no open appointments, Ordained Elders are guaranteed the conference minimum salary and benefits as you await a place of appointment.

If you are considering leaving the United Methodist Church, it is crucial that you carefully research and understand how a decision to leave the UMC will affect your ministry and benefits.

If you are planning to join another denomination, you will need to carefully research and understand their transfer process, pension benefits, health insurance, how a pastor is placed, etc. As you exit, you will surrender conference membership, but not ordination. 

If you are considering going independent, you need to be aware that you will be surrendering both your ordination and your conference membership (surrendering of credentials).  

Once you have done your research and if you have made the decision to leave the United Methodist Church, the forms below (which apply to your situation) will need to completed and turned in to your District Superintendent.   

For Ordained Clergy who seek to withdraw from the UMC to join another denomination, please use the form titled: Notification of Intent to Withdraw to Unite with Another Denomination (Paragraph 360.1 2016 Book of Discipline) when you meet with your District Superintendent. You will also need to complete Permission to Release Information to another Denomination.

For Ordained Clergy who seek to withdraw to become part of an independent congregation, please use the form titled: Notification of Intent to Withdraw from Ordained Ministerial Office (Paragraph 360.2 2016 Book of Discipline) when you meet with your District Superintendent.

For Provisional Clergy who seek to withdraw from the UMC, please use the form titled: Notification of Intent to Withdraw from Denomination – Provisional Member (Paragraph 327.6 2016 Book of Discipline) when you meet with your District Superintendent.

For Local Pastor or Associate Member who decide to withdraw from the United Methodist Church, please use the checklist titled: Notification of Intent to Withdraw from Denomination – Local Pastor/Associate Member (Paragraph 320.1 2016 Book of Discipline) when you meet with your District Superintendent.
 

Frequently Asked Questions about Disaffiliation Pertaining to Clergy
 

What happens to my pension and retirement benefits if I leave the UMC?

Your account balances are yours, whether you withdraw or not. If you are already receiving a pension (life annuity), you will continue to receive it.  However, if you withdraw as an active deacon or elder, you will receive a lump sum payment in lieu of a pension (life annuity).  For details, see the benefits information in this packet and/or contact Wespath at 1-800-851-2201.

For more information click here: Impact on Pension and Health Benefits

What happens to my health insurance coverage if I leave the UMC?

If you are no longer a United Methodist minister, you will no longer be eligible to receive TAC group health plan benefits or retiree medical plan benefits.   For details, see the benefits information in this packet and/or contact TAC Benefits Manager Barbara Kilby bkilby@txcumc.org

If a church disaffiliates and their pastor does not withdraw from the UMC, can the pastor continue to serve out the conference year (through June 30, 2023)?

Paragraph 345 does allow for a UMC pastor to be appointed to a church of another denomination. In consideration of meeting a missional response the needs of special circumstances and unique situations, and after consulting with the appointive cabinet, Bishop Jones has committed to keeping all appointments in place, through June 30, 2023. This is of course assuming in those situations the pastor and the church both agree, along with the Bishop of the Texas Annual Conference as well as the leadership of the evangelical denomination of which the church has become a part, that it is in the best interest of all concerned for the pastor to continue in ministry in that church.

If a pastor withdraws from pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church, but the congregation does not disaffiliate from the UMC, can the pastor continue to serve out the conference year (through June 30, 2023)?

Paragraph 346 does allow for a pastor from another Methodist denomination or other Christian denomination to be appointed to a United Methodist Church. In consideration of meeting a missional response the needs of special circumstances and unique situations, and after consulting with the appointive cabinet, Bishop Jones has committed to keeping all appointments in place, through June 30, 2023. This is of course assuming in those situations the pastor and the church both agree, along with the Bishop of the Texas Annual Conference as well as the leadership of the evangelical denomination of which the pastor has become a part, that it is in the best interest of all concerned for the pastor to continue in ministry in that church.

What if the current UMC church that I serve, stays UMC, but I transfer to another denomination. Can I continue to serve as a pastor in the TAC?

Bishop Jones and the cabinet have agreed that a former Texas Annual Conference clergy may continue to serve a Texas Annual Conference church, only for the remainder of the 2022-2023 conference year, if all the following agree that continuing the appointment is the best option: the former UMC pastor, the bishop of the TAC, the leadership of the TAC UMC local church, and the leadership of the evangelical denomination to which the pastor has transferred. United Methodist pastors cannot be appointed to independent or non-denominational churches.

What do I do if I want to go to another denomination?

The Center for Leadership Formation is providing checklists to guide clergy (elders and deacons in full connection, provisional, licensed local pastors, and associate members) to know what steps should be taken. The forms are included in this packet. Be aware that the steps to go to another denomination are not the same for those going to a non-denominational (independent) church.

What do I do if I want to go to a non-denominational (independent) church?

The Center for Leadership Formation is providing checklists to guide clergy (elders and deacons in full connection, provisional, licensed local pastors, and associate members) to know what steps should be taken. The forms are included in this packet. Be aware that the steps to go to a non-denominational (independent) church are not the same for those going to another denomination and include surrendering of credentials.

If I transfer to another denomination, can I continue to participate in TAC clergy activities?

While the relationships we enjoy as colleagues in ministry will continue regardless of denominational affiliations, the TAC clergy activities are for the clergy of the Texas Annual Conference.

If the conference is supporting my having a coach, will that support come to an end?

While we will work with any departing pastor to do so in a gracious way, yes, that support will come to an end.

If a pastor decides to no longer be a United Methodist minister but is appointed to continue serving a United Methodist church, when they eventually leave that church will the conference pay for that pastor’s move?

If that pastor is leaving to serve a church not a part of the Texas Annual Conference, that move will not be paid for by the conference. Our move policy only covers moves by pastors serving full time appointments moving to a United Methodist Church in the Texas Annual Conference.