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 central 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.
Our friends at the UMsConnected have released a helpful document entitled, “Beginning Again: A Guide for Remaining in the United Methodist Church.” This guide is offered to help you remain United Methodist, and do so with purpose, meaning, and joy. It is designed to be adapted by local churches, small groups, and newly forming faith communities convening after painful disaffiliation processes.
What if your local church has already voted to leave the denomination? You may not wish to leave with them. For those United Methodists who are displaced by a disaffiliating local church, the North Alabama Conference has released information on how to continue your membership in the UMC through connecting with another local church, retaining your membership in the district, and/or being part of a new, fresh expression of the UMC.
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, a number of our 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:
- – In October of 2022, the North Alabama Conference released an excellent set of FAQ’s that addresses many questions and myths, and you can find them here.
- – In December of 2022, 198 of the churches in the North Alabama disaffiliated. On May 11, 2023, an additional 132 of our churches disaffiliated . Unfortunately, this amounts to approximately half of our 638 local churches. Our original estimate of approximately 15% of the UMC’s in the United States disaffiliating appears to be tracking as expected, but this is approximately 10% of the disaffiliations in the United States so far. Not surprisingly, the largest numbers of disaffiliations are among a few of the annual conferences in the South.
- – 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 or one-sided 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. Adam Hamilton has released video responses to the Rob Renfroe videos that have been widely distributed to unfairly malign the UMC, and you may find them here.
- – 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 of the 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, the second here, the third here, and the fourth here. You can also find an excellent set of FAQ’s here that will answer most questions and myths.
- – It is now past the April 1, 2023 hard deadline for churches in the North Alabama Conference to enter the discernment process required for a church to disaffiliate from the UMC before the end of 2023. The final annual conference for ratifying remaining disaffiliations is in September. The disaffiliation 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. This is addressed in the FAQ’s that you can find here.
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.
A recent set of FAQ’s issued by the North Alabama Conference, which addresses many questions and myths.
The letter and video released by the NAC3 team, the second letter and video casting a positive vision, and a third letter and fourth letter with more detail 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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