Thank you to everyone who attended the Special Church Conference at Buncombe Street on Sunday,…
-As seen through the hypothetical eyes of our denomination’s progressive leadership-
I’m imagining that I am one of the many leaders of the UMC. I recognize that the UMC is shrinking in size and in financial receipts. I believe that a transition from a traditional theology to a more progressive theology could reverse these negative financial trends by transforming the UMC into a “big tent” denomination, allowing a broader range of beliefs.
To affect this change, a few of the established UMC laws must be ignored to allow the transition to take place. In order to appease the traditional churches that do not want to be a part of this transformed denomination, our UMC leadership calls a special denominational meeting. The meeting results in the creation of an agreement, which allows traditional churches to leave by a 2/3 vote of the congregation, and the payment of an exit fee that the UMC leadership believes is reasonable. This agreement will need to be voted on by a meeting of the denomination. The meeting is scheduled for the following year.
The meeting, previously scheduled for 2020, does not take place because of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, our leadership team promises a denominational meeting to pass the agreement and schedules this meeting for 2022, two years after the initial meeting date. I observe that the leadership of the denomination and some of the congregations are becoming more progressive in their ideology as time moves on. We know that the passage of time is our ally in our goal to transform the UMC into the big tent denomination to which we aspire.
Two years later the decision is made to postpone the promised meeting for another two years, again using COVID-19 as the reason. In the following two years, our denomination continues to become even more progressive. Additionally, support for the agreement to allow traditional churches to leave our denomination has waned among those who crafted the agreement. From my perspective as a UMC leader, it appears that the delays are making it more likely that the strategy to keep the traditional churches from leaving the UMC is working out well.
Despite the efforts to tamp down discussion of disaffiliation in the churches, awareness of the issues is growing. Our UMC leadership is now faced with the fact that some primarily traditional congregations are realizing that due to the postponements it is less likely they will be able to leave under the agreement passed two years earlier. Lay leaders and clergy in these traditional congregations are making their members aware of their concerns. Disaffiliation from the UMC is becoming a point of discussion in many of these congregations. Fortunately, (from my UMC leadership perspective) many congregations are still unaware of the issues as the clock is quickly ticking down.
At this point in time, I believe that our best course of action is to convince as many of the traditional churches as possible to wait until the oft-postponed meeting takes place in two years. The strategy is now to convince the churches that they will be treated fairly at the upcoming meeting. However, it is very likely the next meeting will have more progressive delegates than the last meeting and the provision in the Book of Discipline that allows the churches to leave under fair terms will expire
s before the meeting takes place. For our UMC leadership team’s purposes, it is best for the churches to wait for two years. Waiting will result in a greater opportunity to charge more money and retain property for those churches intending to leave the UMC. It’s a win-win strategy for the UMC.
So how do you deal with the churches that vote to leave the denomination? Musings of a layperson to be continued,,,
The Way Forward
Thanks to the Way Forward Task Committee for their presentation on the Book of Discipline and the structure of the UMC last night. We understand the complexity of the topics and the difficulty of explaining them in a manner that brings about understanding. If you have not viewed the presentation, you can watch it by clicking here.
In addition, we have information on our website for your discernment.
We now turn our attention to the actions of the UMC leadership that are accelerating the changes that are occurring in our denomination. We pray that this information is helpful to you.
Apportionments and the UMC Seminaries
Read on for Matt Jameson’s article, “The Truth About United Methodist Seminaries,” which provides a breakdown of where $27 million in our apportionments is being spent – this year – to fund the 13 UMC United Methodist seminaries.
Click here for the full article.
More on Misinformation
Thomas Lambrecht is the Vice President and General Manager of Good News. He has served as an ordained United Methodist elder in Wisconsin since 1982.
In his recent article, Lambrecht encourages us to take a careful look at communications from the UMC about the denomination’s stance on gay marriage, the likelihood of the Book of Discipline being changed in 2024, Drag Queen Clergy and the Worship of a Queer God. There appears to be a concerted effort to convince the casual reader that there will be no change in the denomination and that traditionalists are welcome. Click here for more.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”