Frequently Asked Questions

Where is all the misinformation against the UMC coming from?

In a world of social media and cable news, it is difficult to sort out truth from fiction. Many “strawman arguments” and extreme anecdotes have been compiled, exaggerated, and wrapped into a narrative used to malign the UMC and promote disaffiliation. This misinformation has been informally spread by organizations such as “Good News” and the “Wesleyan Covenant Association,” as well as casually repeated on the Facebook group “Friends of the GMC” and other social media outlets. Most United Methodists, however, are not aware of an organization that for years has been a source of such misinformation.

The Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) claims to be “an ecumenical think tank committed to responsible Christian witness in society rooted in historic church teaching and Christian realism.” See their website. On the surface, their vision “To lead the fight rallying Christians to champion biblical, historic Christianity and its role in democratic society, and to defeat revisionist challenges” may seem faithful. In reality, however, the IRD have been directly involved in a number of schismatic movements within mainline denominations in recent decades, centering around culture war issues. Their website indicates that they are funded by foundations that also fund other organizations with right-wing political agendas in American culture.

According to Mainstream UMC, “The IRD is a far-right group that openly attacks all mainline denominations in the United States. They believe, for instance, that the National Council of Churches is Marxist. Really. The author of this latest piece of disinformation is John Lomperis. Lomperis is on staff at the IRD and has actively been imploring churches to disaffiliate from the UMC. Yet, he refuses to leave himself. His church disaffiliated, but he joined another church in Indiana—though he no longer lives in the state—so he can stay on the General Conference delegation to cause more problems in 2024. His behavior and viewpoints are so toxic that the Indiana Annual Conference voted 62% this past June, censoring him and demanding he resign from the delegation. His refusal to leave is completely unethical, but not surprising.”

Check your facts and use discernment. Any information originating from the IRD, or from their blog “Juicy Ecumenism,” should be considered propaganda paid for by political organizations outside of the Church.

There has been talk about “Regionalization” in plans such as the “Christmas Covenant.” How will this impact the church if passed?

Many have hopes that a plan for “regionalization” will help the UMC move forward as a diverse and wonderful world-wide denomination, in unity with one another. Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of Ask the UMC, has a series of articles addressing regionalization that addresses how it is already at work, how future regionalization plans could work and what the implications may be for the church. The first article begins here and the entire series may be found here.

Is there any guarantee that pastors and churches would not be required to change their policies regarding weddings? What about the Episcopal bishop who was “defrocked?” Didn’t the Episcopal Church make assurances that those who remained traditional would not be forced to change?

Even in the draft of the Protocol it was stated: “We envision the Post-Separation United Methodist Church will strive to be a place where traditional United Methodists can continue to serve.” (Protocol – proposed ¶ 2556, last paragraph under 1.a). In any case, there has never been anything in writing that would indicate an alteration of a pastor or a church’s ability to set their own policies. Protections against interfering in another pastor’s ministry are expected to remain in the Book of Discipline (¶ 2702.3.j). Churches and pastors are expected to have several years to discern where they would like to serve, so those wishing to test the water in post-separation UMC could do so and make decisions later based on their experiences.

Anything happening within the Episcopal Church is beyond our control or purview. However, this appears to refer to Bishop Robert Duncan, who was removed from the Episcopal Church not because he wished to remain traditional in thought and practice, but because he organized dioceses in a schism to leave the Episcopal Church and form a new structure outside of the main body. More can be read here.

What happens now since the General Conference has been delayed?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the planned 2020 General Conference was delayed three times. The next General Conference will be in 2024. In the meantime, the Global Methodist Church, a breakaway denomination being promoted by separatists, organized unilaterally in 2022 and begin recruiting churches to disaffiliate from The UMC. Bishop Wallace-Padgett has written a letter to the Conference regarding this delay that you are encouraged to read. The United Methodist Church in our North Alabama Conference were sad to see churches leave our denomination, but are moving forward with joy and excitement about our future. Following the 2024 General Conference, we anticipate doing all we can to make sure that our churches and Annual Conference stand within a United Methodist Church that makes space for all persons, including traditionalists, centrists, and progressives. This website will reflect any changes in plans as they develop. Additionally, we recommend viewing this video from Tom Berlin explaining the delay of General Conference until 2024.

What if the Protocol does not pass at the rescheduled General Conference in 2024?

The signatories on this site and the coalition under the Stay UMC umbrella assumed the passage of the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation when we first organized in late 2020. We realize that this is no longer likely, with the third delay of the 2020 General Conference and announcement of the Global Methodist Church’s unilateral launch. However, any number of possibilities could emerge from General Conference, Judicial Council rulings or other emerging developments. Check back to this site for updates.

Does “Stay UMC” have a position on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ+ persons?

In a word, no. Some of us support full inclusion in a “Post-Separation UMC.”  Others may not share that goal, but wish to have a United Methodist Church with open hearts, open minds, and open doors and to that end yearn to “Stay UMC.” Many of us believe it is best to remove harmful and discriminatory language in the Discipline as was recommended by the Protocol. Many others of us wrestle with this. But we believe in staying at the table, moving forward in history together, and being the Church that welcomes and affirms all of God’s people. We share the common goal of staying in The UMC.

Why are only so-called “traditionalists” the ones who are leaving the United Methodist Church?

In the negotiations that led to the creation of the Protocol, it was key leaders from the Wesleyan Covenant Association and other allied groups who agreed to leave the United Methodist Church to create a new expression of Methodism that is now taking the name of the “Global Methodist Church.” You can hear Keith Boyette, president of the WCA (and now chairperson of the Transitional Leadership Council of the Global Methodist Church), explain his rationale for this here. We still have many traditionalists within Stay UMC as well as centrists and progressives, each who work out their own understanding of ethics through first listening to the witness of Scripture, but also tradition, reason, and experience. We believe The United Methodist Church should be a place that respects this diversity of thought and practice.

Why do you have your own logo and not use the United Methodist Cross & Flame?

We love the Cross and Flame! However, the General Council on Finance and Administration prohibits any group that is not an official United Methodist organization from using it. We do, however, exist solely to support The UMC and keep the North Alabama Conference in it.

I have read in the literature of breakaway Methodists of the grand plans for spiritual revival, world wide ministry, and a reclaiming of Methodist heritage. This all sounds wonderful. Why should I “Stay UMC” instead?

We wish all those departing from The UMC well and hope their anticipated future has a positive impact for God’s kingdom. We simply believe that spiritual revival, meaningful ministry, and a movement that takes risks for the transformation of the world has already been happening in The UMC and will continue in greater ways in the future. The Holy Spirit is at work in the North Alabama Conference, and we have faith that our churches and ministries together will continue to impact our world and transform lives in the name of Jesus Christ. This isn’t to say that the UMC is perfect. Like any institution, it has its challenges. Yet, we do not wish to abandon the Church, just as God never abandons us. In a idealized view of starting a new denomination, one can forget how much there is to be lost by leaving.

How many churches in the United States left the UMC to form the new breakaway denomination called the Global Methodist Church?

As of November of 2023, just shy of the deadline allowed by the legislation in paragraph 2553, it appears that over 6,000 of the original communion of over 30,000 local United Methodist Churches in the United States have now disaffiliated from the UMC (approximately 20%). However, there are presently only about 3,000 congregations aligned with the Global Methodist Church (the new so-called “traditionalist” denomination). The WCA has been actively recruiting congregations in the United States who have seceded to join the GMC, but this represents about 10% of the United Methodist Churches in the United States. The WCA estimates that 95% of these GMC congregations will have less than 500 members. Other disaffiliated local churches have formed partnerships, gone independent, or become part of other small denominations such as the Congregational Methodist Church and the Free Methodist Church. See here for more information.

Local leadership from various perspectives within the North Alabama Conference generally assumed that this percentage would be higher in North Alabama, since we are in the religious context of the southern United States. This turned out to be true, as a little over half of our churches have disaffiliated. However, the Holy Spirit is at work among us and we are excited about moving forward together in unity.

I have seen a simple chart that contrasts the post-separation UMC with the newly forming GMC. Is true that the post-separation UMC will have a new position on issues like abortion and pluralism?

This is a narrative that has been promoted by separatists, but in a word, no. It seems likely that the post-separation UMC will remove controversial language regarding human sexuality from the Discipline, leaving room for contextualized ministry and diversity of thought. However, any assumption regarding the core beliefs or doctrines of the UMC or views on any other social issues, is simply conjecture, if not intentional misinformation.

Every four years, the General Conference of the UMC revises the United Methodist Discipline and the Social Principles (a non-binding teaching document). The General Conference is the only body that speaks for The United Methodist Church.

How could I find out more about the UMC?

If you are new to all this, there are excellent online resources for exploring Methodist spirituality, beliefs, missions, and structure. Check out the official website of The United Methodist Church and its articles on what we believe and how we are structured.

There are also resources at United Methodist Communications, including basics on United Methodism and a primer on what General Conference is and how it works. One of those resources is a study guide to help United Methodists have constructive conversations on the difficult topic of human sexuality.

Who runs Stay UMC?

The Stay UMC Board is comprised of the following persons:

Blair Bassham, an active layperson who worships at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood, AL

Elizabeth Crosby, a student at UAB and member of the UAB Wesley Foundation

Lindsey Meadows Eastwood, a Birmingham based attorney and life long United Methodist layperson who worships at First United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL

Randy Kelley, an ordained elder in the North Alabama Conference now serving as pastor at Lakeside United Methodist Church in Huntsville, AL

Todd Noren-Hentz, an ordained elder in the North Alabama Conference now serving as pastor at Wedowee First United Methodist Church in Wedowee, AL

Tammy Jackson, an ordained elder in the North Alabama Conference now serving as pastor at Anniston First United Methodist Church in Anniston, AL

Steve West, an ordained elder in the North Alabama Conference now serving as pastor at Jacksonville First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, AL