Grace through Separation
You may have heard through social media or the news that a plan has been negotiated and will be proposed to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church coming in May to end decades of contention and fighting over Biblical authority and human sexuality through a planned separation of the denomination into two or more successors.
A professional mediator led a team of sixteen persons, representing the major groups in the UMC and the Council of Bishops to the agreed upon Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation. You can read the Protocol by clicking here. You can also learn more about it by reading the Frequently Asked Questions by clicking here.
Here are some key points in the Protocol:
Traditionalists who choose to do so may leave the UMC to create one or more new conservative denominations.
Congregations are granted a free and clear exit to that new denomination with all their assets (including the building) and liabilities (including any debt), and with no additional fees paid to the Annual Conference.
An entire Central Conference, like Africa, can leave the UMC when they vote by 2/3 majority to do so.
US Annual Conferences can leave with a 57% majority vote and retain their property.
The Post-Separation UMC (PSUMC) will continue with all the agencies and assets of the UMC, minus a $25 million payout to be divided among new traditionalist denominations.
The PSUMC will reorganize into four global regions (US, Africa, Philippines, Europe), each with the power to amend large sections of the BOD. At that time, the US regional conference is expected to remove from their Book of Discipline all negative language regarding gay clergy and gay marriage, fully embracing both.
The Protocol calls for charges filed against pastors or Bishops who are practicing gays or who perform gay weddings to be held in abeyance until the General Conference’s action on all this in May.
The Protocol has to be put in legislative form and sent to General Conference, which will make the final decision about all of it this May. Some details may be amended. We simply have to wait and see what happens.
In the meantime, we at Dayton UMC will continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We will continue to help people Know Christ, Grow Faith and Go Witness. When the time comes, we will hold a Church Conference (with all Professing Members of Dayton UMC having vote) to make a decision about our future affiliation.
On the one hand I am grieving for the division of the denomination I have served for my entire adult life. On the other hand I believe this separation is necessary so we can stop fighting with each other over the authority and teachings of Scripture, over competing visions of what Christian discipleship means, and over issues of human sexuality.
Watch for announcement of a Town Hall meeting to unpack all this information and receive questions. And please keep praying for God to lead our church into His will and future.