statutes to pension reserves
Q: There is so much information about what has happened and is happening in the United Methodist Church. Can you summarize for those of us who are hearing about this for the first time?
A: Since 1972, United Methodists have disagreed on whether the practice of homosexuality is contrary of Christian teaching and, more specifically, on whether homosexual persons should be ordained as ministers and married in the church.
The issue was the focus of a Special Session of the General Conference (the global governing body) of the UMC in 2019. At that time, the traditional teaching embodied in our Book of Discipline since 1972 was affirmed. However, the division between United Methodists with traditional or conservative beliefs and United Methodists with progressive or liberal beliefs became more clear and the conflict and disobedience of some leaders intensified.
Several pieces of legislation were proposed after the 2019 General Conference to help the UMC divide gracefully. However, because of the pandemic, the General Conference expected to consider that legislation was postponed in 2020, 2021, and again this year, when it was announced that General Conference would not meet until 2024.
This decision not to hold a General Conference in 2022 has resulted in a number of responses that call for clarity. Several churches in our Annual Conference have already begun the process of discernment to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church, according to the Principles of Disaffiliation adopted at our 2020 Session of the Texas Annual Conference. The announcement of the May 1, 2022 launch of the Global Methodist Church has generated increased interest in disaffiliating to this new denomination.
Q: What expressions of the Methodist movement are on the horizon for the Texas Annual Conference?
A: There are over thirty Methodist denominations in the United States (including AME, AME Zion, CME, Congregational Methodist Church, Free Methodist Church, and many others). However, there are two expressions of Methodism that are more central in the Texas Annual Conference conversations than others:
- The United Methodist Church (UMC) will continue under the current 2019 Book of Discipline. Some anticipate that the UMC will consider, at the 2024 General Conference, removing restrictive language from the Book of Discipline regarding same gender weddings and the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals.
- The Global Methodist Church (GMC) launched May 1, 2022, as a traditional expression of Methodism, and will retain the current understanding of marriage as a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman, and the practice of homosexuality as outside of Christian teaching.
Q: Will the Texas Annual Conference disaffiliate and join the Global Methodist Church?
A: No. The Judicial Council (the UMC version of the Supreme Court) published its decision on May 10, 2022, stating, “While an annual conference has the reserved right to vote on disaffiliation, the General Conference must first enact enabling legislation to establish the right to withdraw but has not done so for conferences in the United States.” It further concluded, “Absent General Conference legislation, any vote and actions taken by an annual conference to separate are unconstitutional, null and void, and of no legal force or effect.”
Q: If our church decides to begin the disaffiliation process now, what are the steps?
A: In 2020, the Texas Annual Conference approved principles of disaffiliation, 7 simple steps. To learn more about local church disaffiliation, watch this video. For additional information about local church disaffiliation, click here.
Q. Where can I learn more and stay up to date?
A. We will continue to provide updated and accurate information on our webpage here: https://www.txcumc.org/navigatingthewaters. If you have specific questions regarding the future of the church, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or your District office.
Questions from May 10, 2022 Webinar
Q. Since the book of discipline was written by imperfect humans, have you considered that the statement that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” was wrong, and that the Holy Spirit is at work leading us towards love and affirmation of all our siblings in Christ and God’s call on their lives?
A. The statement in the United Methodist Book of Discipline is based on biblical interpretations. There have been efforts to change the language in the Book of Discipline based on alternate interpretations of the scriptures, but those attempts have not prevailed. The historic statement of the church remains.
Q. Does a church have to wait until the special conference to be granted disaffiliation?
A. The disaffiliation of a local church does require Annual Conference approval. This can occur at the regular session of Annual Conference or at a special session of Annual Conference. The May 11, 2022 decision of the Judicial Council makes it unlikely that a local church could move through the discernment period and meet the 7 steps for disaffiliation (https://www.txcumc.org/files/navigating+the+waters/local+church+disaffiliation/7+simple+steps.pdf) before the May 29, 2022 convening of the 2022 Session of the Texas Annual Conference. Therefore, a special session of the Texas Annual Conference will be called later in 2022 to consider approving all local congregations who have discerned that disaffiliating from the Texas Annual Conference is their best course.
Q. If our conference has fully funded our pensions, why would there be any fees for disaffiliation other than two years of apportionments?
A. Part of the current pension program includes a defined benefit that is provided for the retired clergy and spouse for the remainder of their lives. Such a benefit incurs perpetual responsibility that results in a pension liability from the assumption that the departing church would have paid into this fund for the years projected. Wespath calculates a “market basis” for that liability and assigns it to our conference which is then calculated proportionally for the plan participants.
Q. Who will make the determination on the date (August or November) should a Jurisdictional Conference in 2022 be ruled in order?
A. The Council of Bishops set the dates for Jurisdictional Conferences with all five United States Jurisdictions meeting on the same dates.
Q. Are there any resources available for those who wish to begin facilitating conversations regarding greater LGBTQIA+ acceptance? Guidance towards scripture and interpretations that might provide enlightenment, for example.
A. There are a number of groups who are advocating for fuller inclusion. The Reconciling Ministries Network would have such resources.
Q. Bishop Jones, is there a way a local church can make the decision to disaffiliate and the UMC hold the trust of property until a small church could pay off their unfunded portion of the pension over a period of time, say 3-4 years and then have their property released to them at that time?
A. Not at this time. Our current Principles for Disaffiliation approved by the 2020 Session of the Texas Annual Conference are specific that all payments be made by the effective date of disaffiliation.
Q. Do you plan to retire this year?
A. Paragraph 408.1 is clear on this, “A bishop shall be retired on August 31 next following the regular session of the jurisdictional conference if the bishop’s sixty-eighth birthday has been reached on or before July 1 of the year in which the jurisdictional conference is held.” I turn 68 this month. My plan when I was assigned to the Texas Annual Conference was to serve the TAC through August 31, 2024. However, if the Judicial Council renders a decision that would allow for a regular session of the Jurisdictional Conference to be held this year, as the Council of Bishops has requested, then I would retire this year, after that Jurisdictional Conference. That decision has not yet been released by the Judicial Council.
Q. Will today's ruling affect how you handle resolutions at annual conference and if so, how? and Is there any word on whether or not Jurisdictional Conference will be occurring in November? and Is resolution #3 still in order since there can be no disaffiliation at this time? and Is the Resolution on the 2/3 threshold resolution out of order? and Will resolutions 3 and 4 be withdrawn before our annual conference? and Are any of our resolutions to the 2022 Texas Annual Conference now out of order because of the Judicial Council decision today? and What would happen if the Annual Conference failed to approve of a church disaffiliating?
A. Judicial Council Decision 1444 will impact the business of our 2022 Session of the Texas Annual Conference. That Decision is clear that an Annual Conference cannot vote on disaffiliating as an Annual Conference before the General Conference has met to regulate the process and set the conditions. I believe Resolutions 3 (A Resolution for a Two-Thirds Majority) and Resolution 4 (Reasoning with Grace Resolution for 2022 TAC) are being withdrawn in light of the Decision 1444.
Q. Will today's ruling affect how you handle resolutions at annual conference and if so, how?
A. Four resolutions have been submitted to the 2022 Session of the Texas Annual Conference. As stated above, two of those are being withdrawn. We will consider the resolutions according to the Rules of the Texas Annual Conference that were approved at last year’s Annual Conference Session.
Q. Is the Council of Bishops planning to call a special session of the General Conference before 2024?
A. No. When the General Commission on General Conference announced an March 3, 2022 that a General Conference this year was neither safe nor feasible given visa complexities and delays, the announcement included the statement, “Ultimately our decision reflects the hope that 2024 will afford greater opportunity for global travel and a higher degree of protection for the health and safety of delegates and attendees.”
Q. Are there any bishops in the GMC? Who are they if any?
A. The Global Methodist Church just launched this month. I do not believe any credentials have been issued or surrendered at this time. There is discussion currently on the steps and timing of those steps of a credentialed clergy of the UMC becoming a credentialed clergy of the GMC. Bishop Michael Lowry has joined the GMC as Bishop Emeritus. Additional bishops will be selected in the future. How many and who they will be has not yet been determined.
Q. Bishop Jones, in my reading of ¶14 Article II, I cannot find a way for the 2020 General Conference not to meet. It seems to me that both the 2020 and 2024 General Conferences must meet to remain in line with the Book of Discipline and our Constitution. Can you offer any insight to how the Council of Bishops and Commission on the General Conference have dealt with this issue? and Is the 2020 postponed General Conference scheduled on a date yet? Is it going to be canceled since 2024 is a normal scheduled conference?
A. The Book of Discipline and its many authors did not envision a pandemic preventing the General Conference from meeting for a full four years. Much of these confusing questions have to get unraveled. However, Judicial Council Decision 1429 released on February 22, 2022 indicates that the Opening Date of the General Conference is the actual date that General Conference is scheduled to meet, rather than the original date that General Conference planned to meet. Paragraph 502.3 of the Book of Discipline states, “Delegates to the General Conference shall be elected at the session of the annual conference held not more than two annual conference sessions before the calendar year preceding the session of the General Conference. At least thirty days prior to the beginning of that calendar year, the secretary of the General Conference shall notify the bishop and the secretary of each annual conference of the number of delegates to be elected by that annual conference.” These two references seem to indicate that the business of the General Conference will be set according to the timelines for 2024 General Conference and the delegates to consider the business of the General Conference will be elected in Annual Conferences of 2023 with the number of delegates being distributed to Annual Conferences by December 1, 2022.
Q. Shouldn't the churches or clergy or bishops who are not willing to abide by the book of discipline be asked to leave the UMC?
A. There are processes for addressing clergy and congregations and bishops when they violate the rules of our Book of Discipline. However, much of our Book of Discipline is a statement of covenant with the expectation that it will be followed. Addressing the unwillingness of persons to follow the disciplinary processes of the Book of Discipline has revealed some holes in accountability. As a United Methodist bishop, I swore to uphold the discipline of the church and I continue to be committed to fulfilling my vows.
Q. Isn't there still a Judicial Council decision pending on whether or not to have GAC PRIOR TO 2024?
A. No. We are still waiting for a Judicial Council Decision regarding the holding of Jurisdictional Conferences before 2024, but General Conference is planned be held in 2024.
Q. Will the Emerging Leaders Endowment remain with the TAC or with the UMC when/if the TAC votes to leave?
A. The Emerging Leaders Endowment is a resource of the Texas Annual Conference to equip clergy leaders in the Texas Annual Conference. Judicial Council 1444 is clear that an Annual Conference cannot disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church until the General Conference has set to regulate the process and set the conditions.
Q. I read on the GMC site that several clergy from the Texas Annual Conference have been elected to their Council. Are these clergy going to be asked to surrender their credentials? Specifically, Jessica LaGrone, Chap Temple, Kenneth Levingston. This was shared online by the GMC.
A. There is a process for applying for credentials in the Global Methodist Church and withdrawal from the ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church to unite with another denomination. (Paragraph 360.1) All three of the persons mentioned are under appointment by me as the episcopal leader of the Texas Annual Conference and they are clergy in good standing.
Q. I know that you have already heard, but there is a program being put forward through advertisement in the Tyler Fox television station about a program on Thursday, at 7pm, to discuss the effects and affects of the evident "split" that is coming in the United Methodist Church. What should we prepare to discuss with our local congregations about what's going on? Obviously this TV program will traumatize many church members.
A. This program was to explain the current stress and strain on the United Methodist Church. Much of the news about the United Methodist Church is being written and delivered by persons outside of the United Methodist Church who do not understand our polity and decision-making processes.
Q. "What is the rationale for a traditionalist church who is leaving the annual conference joining the GMC versus the Free Methodist Church?"
A. That is a question for the discernment process of every church considering disaffiliation.
Q. Why do we have to follow the Book of Discipline in legislation like today, when clearly those that have been disobedient are not responsible to follow it?
A. Because it is what we leaders vowed to do and because it is the right thing to do.
Q. Isn’t the resolution creating the discernment teams to make presentations to districts more important now and when will this process begin.
A. The Future Discernment Task Force was formed to provide accurate information, through district gatherings, of those things being considered at the next General Conference and then to go back to district gatherings announcing what decisions had been made by General Conference. With the decision for the General Conference not to meet in 2022 those district gatherings were delayed.
Q. If Annual Conferences have a right to disaffiliate, but not until the General Conference addresses it, wouldn’t simply not addressing the issue (or agreeing on a plan) at General Conference be the same as denying that right?
A. The General Conference does have the responsibility to set regulate the process and set the conditions. Speculating on how they will exercise the responsibility is not appropriate at this time.
Q. Can clergy or laity join the GMC without the disaffiliation process.
A. Congregations disaffiliate according to our Principles of Disaffiliation and Paragraphs 2548.2 and 2553 in the 2019 Book of Discipline. Clergy withdraw from ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church to unite with another denomination Paragraph 360.1 of the 2019 Book of Discipline). Laity join a local church and if it is a Global Methodist Church, they have their membership transferred from their previous congregation to their current one.
Q. Bishop, where may I find a list of churches that have not paid their apportionments in full?
A. We do not publish that, but we do recognize publicly the congregations that do fulfill their covenantal benevolences (apportionments) in full. These can be found in the February 24 edition of The Cross Connection.
Q. Will there be any immediate economic impact upon the Texas Annual Conference as a result of local churches disaffiliating? Have any projections been made yet? and Has there been a consideration of the ability for the TAC of the UMC if a majority of local churches vote to leave the UMC?
A. Yes. Congregations that disaffiliate from the Texas Annual Conference fulfill their covenantal commitments for the year prior to disaffiliation and the current year. They, of course, do not submit any apportionments after they disaffiliate and that will have significant impact on our conference. We do not yet know how many churches will choose to disaffiliate but our finance team are running several scenarios so that we can be prepared.
Q. While TAC is committed to following the Discipline it is also clear that the UMC, as a whole, is not as committed to the Discipline as we are. Why should we trust that there will be a fair process in 2024? Why should we wait? It is hard to trust organizations like the Council of Bishops to act fairly, and often it feels like the fix is in.
A. I am not sure that this is a question as much as a statement. To be sure when trust is broken or questioned, it is difficult to regain it.
Q. Will individual church members actually vote on moves?
A. Our current Principles for Disaffiliation that follow Paragraphs 2548.2 and 2553 in the 2019 Book of Discipline do require a church conference vote after a period of discernment.
Q. If a church wants to leave the UMC, and have paid their apportionments every year, will they have to pay again for last year? and You mention paying 2 years apportionments. If a church has paid last year and current this year do they just own remaining apportionments? Or is it just a flat fee equal to sum of both years?
A. If a church is current on their apportionments, they would only need to complete payment of the current year and address the unfunded pension liability. No other payment is required than the fulfillment of current covenantal commitments.
Q. Does the decision about individual church disaffiliation result from a 2/3 vote or simple majority? and What is the vote requirements for the local church to disaffiliate? Does it require 2/3 of the congregation?
A. Step 3 in our Principles of Disaffiliation states, “The local church may vote to move forward with the disaffiliation process. To move forward, disaffiliation must be affirmed by a simple majority (¶2548.2) or a two-thirds majority (¶2553) of a duly called church conference.”
Q. Is the 30 million in the Texas Annual conference 30 mill pension fund from the churches in the conference? If so how will the Texas Annual Conference allocate those funds to the churches that decide to leave? If any at all.
A. The Pension Reserves have accrued from a number of sources. One key source has been the local church participation in the pension. The current unfunded pension liability for any church considering disaffiliation discounts the monies and earnings from those monies that the particular church has put into the Pension Reserve Fund.
Q. Bishop, do you read Judicial Council decision 1379 as requiring a 2/3 vote whether a church disaffiliates under 2553 or 2548.2?
A. Judicial Council Decision 1379 released on April 25, 2019 is clear that the 2/3 threshold set by Paragraph 2553 of the 2019 Book of Discipline was constitutional even as it affirmed a simple majority vote from the Annual Conference to approve a disaffiliation. It does not address Paragraph 2548.2 which assumes the standard threshold of 50% plus one of voting members present.
Q. After the TAC votes to leave the UMC, what happens if the General Conference does not approve the exit protocol of the churches?
A. Judicial Council 1444 prohibits an Annual Conference from considering disaffiliation as an Annual Conference without a General Conference regulation of the process and conditions.
Q. Do churches need to be concerned that our annual conference could change our disaffiliation procedures and what is required to do so? In essence, how easy would it be to make it more expensive for a church to leave?
A. The Annual Conference has the authority to amend or rescind the principles of disaffiliation that it approved in 2020, as long as the action does not conflict with the current Book of Discipline. Speculating on how they will exercise the responsibility is not appropriate at this time.
Q. In the interim, what is the potential for organizing new churches.
A. Establishing new faith communities continues to be one of the objectives of the Texas Annual Conference and we are looking forward to the launch of one this fall.
Q. If a local church disaffiliates but a large group of congregates wants to stay UMC which group has rights to the property.
A. The Principles of Disaffiliation are clear that the property and assets of a church stay with the church. The only financial commitment of the church is to fulfill its covenantal commitments to the Annual Conference regarding apportionments and unfunded pension liability. Any negotiation of assets of the local church would be the responsibility of the local church.
Q. Is the decision of the GC permanent, forever?
A. The General Conference is the only body who can speak for the United Methodist Church and change our current Book of Discipline. Each Session of the General Conference has that responsibility and authority.
Q. Why are TAC leaders advising congregations to use Paragraph 2548.2 to disaffiliate? According to Judicial Council Decision 1379, that paragraph does not provide congregations with the ability to change their denominational affiliation. https://www.umc.org/en/content/ask-the-umc-what-should-united-methodist-congregations-know-about-disaffiliation
A. Paragraph 2553 is a time limited paragraph seeking to address churches who no longer wish to remain in the United Methodist Church and subject to our Book of Discipline. Paragraph 2548.2 is a paragraph related to churches who desire to move into another evangelical denomination. They are both current paragraphs that define the process for disaffiliation. Our Board of Trustees proposed our Principles of Disaffiliation which brings together the conditions for disaffiliation into a fair and equitable process. These principles were approved in 2020 and have guided churches who have used either paragraph.
Q. There is a big difference between the two paths of individual church disaffiliation, one requiring only a simple majority, other a 2/3 majority. How is it decided which path a church follows? and What body in the local church decides whether to use 2548.2 or 2553 in event a disaffiliation is pursued?
A. The local church decides which path it is seeking to use for disaffiliation. However, a church cannot apply for Paragraph 2548.2 process if it is going independent or non-denominational. That paragraph is limited to churches seeking to unite with another evangelical denomination.
Q. Why are the churches who wish to remain traditional the ones who have to leave rather than the other way around?
A. There have been several churches who have gone through the discernment to disaffiliate. They are not all traditional churches. The churches who discern that they wish to disaffiliate do so because they no longer wish to be United Methodist Churches, no longer wish to live under the current Book of Discipline, and/or no longer wish to remain in the existing accountability structure and practice.
Q. If the UM Trust Clause is ruled inapplicable in the state of Texas (since there is a case currently being evaluated in Collin County), how does this impact a local churches' desire to disaffiliate?
A. The Trust Clause referred to in Paragraph 2501 of the current Book of Discipline is primarily a statement of covenant with a few legal attempts to define it or constrict it. Rulings in the secular court may speak to the legal enforceability of this expression of covenant and it is likely to vary widely state by state and somewhat in court by court. These secular rulings do not change our Book of Discipline and our covenantal commitments and expectations.
Q. Since an entire annual conference cannot leave, could a district within a conference leave?
A. No. A district is an expression of the Annual Conference. While it is possible for every church in a district to disaffiliate, it is not in order for the district itself to disaffiliate.
Q. If a church has no retired pastors, does it still have to pay unfunded pension money?
A. Probably. If the church has had a pastor participating in the pension program at any point since 2007 and before 1982 it has participated in a defined benefit program which carries with it a pension liability.
Q. Will dollars paid by departing congregations for unfunded pension liability be used solely for pension funding?
A. Yes. Dollars submitted for unfunded pension liability by disaffiliating churches will be deposited into the Texas Annual Conference’s Pension Reserves which serve to guarantee the pension liabilities.
Q. What 3 churches are requesting disaffiliation at this TAC?
A. Since this is a discernment process, we do not reveal these churches’ identity until we submit their names for approval of disaffiliation at Annual Conference as they have the right to withdraw from the process at any time before that.
Q. Isn’t it true that no one in the South Central Jurisdiction has violated the discipline? Aren’t the number of those who have violated the Discipline very small?
A. No. There have been violations to the Book of Discipline and most of them have been addressed through the disciplinary standards set forth in our Book of Discipline.
Q. Will Pastors be grandfathered into the GMC?
A. That would be a question better answered by a member or a leader in the Global Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church is clear in Paragraph 360.1 of the process for withdrawing from ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church to unite with another denomination.
Q. Isn’t it likely that the UMC will continue to be a big tent where some churches might be open to gay marriage and some not? Won’t all clergy make their own decision about who to marry?
A. There has been no change to the restrictions in the Book of Discipline that prohibit a United Methodist clergy from officiating a same gender wedding, a United Methodist Church from hosting a same gender wedding, and a United Methodist Board of Ordained Ministry from approving a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” (Paragraph 304.3) for candidacy or ordination.
Q. Will the next GC not happen until 2024?
A. That is correct.
Q. Can you name some of the progressive caucus groups you advised?
A. I have had conversations with any caucus group that has requested such conversations and those conversations have included my encouragement to address a series of questions as they envision the future.
Q. Didn’t the Protocol call for a moratorium on trials during this discernment time?
A. It did, but the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation has not been to a General Conference for consideration. The Protocol as a proposal to the General Conference does not have the authority to override the current Book of Discipline. It would, therefore, be both inappropriate and contrary to the rules of our church not to follow our current Book of Discipline.
Q. What is happening with the WCA and is it connected to the Global org. you are talking about?
A. My understanding is that at a recent Wesleyan Covenant Association meeting a commitment was made that the WCA would continue to be a separate group from the Global Methodist Church and would still be active in the United Methodist Church.
Q. Do you predict there will be many cross-denominational appointments between the UMC and GMC in the near future, especially during the next few years of transition as churches and pastors leave?
A. Paragraph 344.1.d does allow for a United Methodist pastor to be appointed to serve in another denomination if it is so requested by the appropriate judicatory officers of the other denomination. Speculating on if there would be any such requests or how many requests would be inappropriate at this time.
Q. Once 2024 gets here, what is to stop the powers-that-be from delaying General Conference again to 2026 or 2028?
A. The General Commission on General Conference stated that the pandemic and practical concerns regarding visa delays for international delegates led them to the decision not to hold General Conference. They included in that decision, “Ultimately our decision reflects the hope that 2024 will afford greater opportunity for global travel and a higher degree of protection for the health and safety of delegates and attendees.”
Q. What prevents progressives (churches and clergy) from joining the GMC and continuing the “fight”? Couldn’t the GMC find itself in this same spot in a decade or two?
A. The Global Methodist Church has its own standards and guidelines for congregations and clergy wishing to join the new denomination. That question would best be directed to their leaders.
Q. So we have a "decentralized" system holding clergy (including bishops accountable; yet we have a centralized system forbidding any departure if that discipline is not upheld?
A. I understand this more as a statement and less as a question, but my responsibility is to uphold the vows that I have taken and the commitments I have made.
Q. Have there been violations of the BOD in the TAC?
A. Yes and to my knowledge I have followed the disciplinary processes in the Book of Discipline in such instances.
Q. Have we considered continuing with the Future Discernment presentations to help local congregations access balanced resources for conversations about their own possible disaffiliation?
A. The Principles of Disaffiliation place the District Superintendent as the primary resource for local churches as they begin the discernment process, which is clearly defined by our Principles of Disaffiliation. The Future Discernment Task Force was called into being to relate to issues being deliberated and decided at General Conference.
Q. What is the “New Model of Ministry” that was decided 2 yrs ago & how will it affect the money in the TAC?
A. The Discipling Process approved in 2020 did call for a reduction in conference staff and reduction of the conference budget. These moves toward decentralized and aligned ministries will be fully implemented with the approvement of the 2023 budget.
Q. Do you think GMC churches and UMC churches will be in ministry for children, especially our most vulnerable children? 🙂 I realize all of this is of utmost importance. I'm just resetting thinking for a brief moment.
A. I cannot imagine churches in any denomination not being in ministry to children and the most vulnerable. It will certainly continue to be ministries of the churches of the Texas Annual Confernce.
Q. Doesn't the Bible teach us to love one another? If this is so, then why do we have differences?
A. A quick read of the New Testament reveals that faithful people have had differences of opinions and convictions since and before the days of the early church. John Wesley addressed this dynamic in his sermon, “Catholic Spirit.” That sermon can be found in its entirety without comment at http://www.umaffirm.org/cornet/catholic.html. I encourage all of our members to read it.
Q. Why is the TAC’s resource www.txcumc.org/local-church-disaffiliation and the UMC’s resource https://www.umc.org/en/content/ask-the-umc-what-should-united-methodist-congregations-know-about-disaffiliation in conflict with details about what is required for congregations to disaffiliate?
A. The Principles for Disaffiliation were established by the Texas Annual Conference in 2020. The interpretation on the UMC website is that, an interpretation that is being followed in some, but not all, other Annual Conferences. There are other differences in applications throughout our connection, including an “exit fee” that includes a percentage of a local churches assets. Some Annual Conferences and presiding bishops are only allowing disaffiliation under Paragraph 2553. Some are allowing disaffiliation of local churches under 2548.2 or 2553.
Q. Isn't it true that each church's Board of Trustees set guidelines for what weddings will and will not be conducted within a particular church? So wedding guidelines are up to a local church per the Book of Discipline, correct?
A. Yes. As long as the church policies do not conflict with the Book of Discipline. Where a conflict exists the Book of Discipline prevails.
Q. Will there be any considerations for a 'deferred payment' scheme for the unfunded retirment programs?
A. Not at this time. It would be unusual at best for the Texas Annual Conference to hold a lien on a church that is disaffiliating from the Texas Annual Conference.
Q. What will happen to Certified Lay Ministers who are leading/ pastoring a congregation if disaffiliation takes place?
A. Certified Lay Ministers are credentialed in the Texas Annual Conference. These credentials would still be valid. If a CLM joins a non-United Methodist Church these credentials would no longer be valid as the CLM would not be a UM.
Q. Because the Protocol was never passed, would Resolution #2 be out of order as well?
A. Resolution 2 “Forward in Love” is aspirational in nature and is in order if the authors wish to move forward it.
Q. Could you elaborate on why it is important to rush to hold a special AC before the Bishop is forced to retire if JC is held this year.
A. One of the key financial components in the Principles of Disaffiliation is the payment of the current year’s apportionments. Several churches considering the disaffiliation do not want to incur apportionments for a new year.