A Coalition of North Alabama Methodists Working to Stay in the UMC
Stay UMC represents a large group of traditional, centrist, and progressive United Methodists in the North Alabama Conference who love the UMC and believe we are “better together” as we move forward into the future. Our purpose is to work against the idea of the annual conference voting to leave our denomination, should the Protocol for Grace and Reconciliation through Separation ever pass at General Conference.
IN THE MEANTIME, IS YOUR LOCAL CHURCH GOING THROUGH A DISCERNMENT PROCESS ABOUT WHETHER TO STAY IN THE UMC OR DISAFFILIATE? WE ARE HERE FOR YOU. READ THE INFORMATION BELOW.
After General Conference was delayed again until 2024 (due to Covid), and no vote on the Protocol was possible, the Wesleyan Covenant Association announced that their new breakaway denomination, the Global Methodist Church, would be organized without delay. The GMC formed on May 1, 2022.
In the North Alabama Conference, several dozen churches have entered the discernment process that the Conference requires for those considering disaffiliation. We hope that many will choose to stay in the UMC, but we have nothing against those that do not. We simply believe the annual conference as a whole should not be forced to go with them. We also believe that the laity of local churches in the discernment process deserve to have information that is not unbalanced, biased, or incomplete. Here are a few things you need to know:
– As of May 2022, several dozen of our churches have entered the discernment process. This is a minority of our almost 650 local churches, but at the same time you are not alone.
– Stay UMC is a grassroots organization and is not involved in conference administration. However, our annual conference has issued official information on the 3-6 month discernment process required by churches who are considering disaffiliation. This process must begin by calling your District Superintendent. At Stay UMC, we believe it is important that laity are fully aware of this process to ensure that it is followed with transparency and that a balance of information is considered. Your church should not make decisions with incomplete information. You can find a copy of the requirements here.
– There are myths about the future of the post-separation UMC that are being promoted by some of those intending to leave (abandoning tenants of historic creeds, disregarding Biblical authority, disavowing the lordship of Christ, ignoring the reality of sin and need for atonement, etc.). These are “straw man” arguments that are purely speculative at best and misleading at worst. At times, an extreme example is cited, if not exaggerated, to reinforce a narrative of biblical infidelity of the whole. Check your facts. The essential doctrines of the UMC have never changed and cannot be changed in the Discipline (they are part of our constitution). Read Steve Harper’s excellent blog post on this subject. See the video of the “Celebrate UMC” event in Montgomery where Rev. Tom Berlin addresses this about 40 minutes into his presentation. Read the bishops’ “Narrative for the Continuing United Methodist Church” for the Council of Bishops’ vision of what the future of the UMC will look like.
– The Texas Annual Conference has a Future Discernment Task Force that has created an excellent “side by side” comparison of the UMC and the future GMC. It clears up some myths about the future UMC and highlights some important differences laity need to be aware of. You can find it here.
– Our bishop and her NAC3 team have released letters and videos regarding what the UMC will look like moving forward in North Alabama. They cast a vision of local churches being able to self-identify as traditional, centrist, or progressive and network with other churches, and that this will be considered when pastoral appointments are made. Stay tuned for more, but please know that nobody will be telling your local church or your pastor to be something you aren’t. You can find the first letter and video here and the second set here.
– There is no hurry for your church to rush through discernment. Churches have until December 31, 2023 to complete the process of disaffiliation (including an annual conference vote), should you discern that is the best route. There is an inaccurate perception that the possibility of a new bishop in 2023 means that the process or terms for disaffiliation could be significantly changed. This is a myth. This process belongs entirely to the conference trustees, as per paragraph 2553 of the Discipline, not the bishop. Our conference trustees are elected by the annual conference.
Do you need help advocating to keep your local church in the UMC? Check out these practical strategies.
Please read these important documents:
The Council of Bishop’s Narrative for the Continuing United Methodist Church
Bishop Wallace-Padgett’s letter regarding the postponement of General Conference until 2024
FAQ on continued affiliation with and disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church from the North Alabama Conference
The letter and video released by Bishop Wallace-Padgett’s office, and a second letter and video casting a positive vision of what the UMC will look like in North Alabama moving forward, as a communion of traditional, centrist, and progressive local churches networking with each other, trusting that their perspectives will be considered when pastoral appointments are made.
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