Helping Your Church Stay UMC
In our United Methodist polity, churches are represented by a designated lay member or members to the Annual Conference, and they have a voice and a vote. It’s important for other local church laity to get up to speed on the matters at hand, since as of May 2022, several dozen United Methodist Churches in North Alabama (out of a total of almost 700 churches) are going through the official process of discernment on whether to stay in the UMC or disaffiliate. This 3-6 month discernment process with clear guidelines is given to local churches who request it through their District Superintendent. At Stay UMC, we have nothing against those who wish to leave our denomination; our primary focus is to ensure that the Annual Conference as a whole does not vote to leave – should a version of the Protocol pass at General Conference 2024. However, if your church is going through the discernment process, we are here to make sure you have balanced information available. There are many reasons your church should prayerfully consider staying in our beloved denomination. But even if they choose to leave the United Methodist family, as laity you can ensure that this decision is not based on inaccurate, biased, or incomplete information.
Since General Conference was delayed again until 2024, and therefore the Protocol did not pass, those intent on seceding from the UMC to form a new breakaway denomination called the Global Methodist Church chose to go ahead and organize their new denomination on May 1, 2022. A minority of the churches in the UMC have begun to disaffiliate to this new denomination as well as other expressions of Methodism. While the Protocol (or something like it) could still pass at the next General Conference in 2024, after which the North Alabama Conference could choose to hold a vote on whether or not the entire Conference will leave the United Methodist Church, the Judicial Council has ruled that no such vote may be legally held on the Annual Conference level in 2022 or 2023. While some churches intending to leave our denomination are holding out in hopes of the passage of something like the Protocol in the future, which may ease the financial burden of disaffiliation, others know that this is increasingly uncertain and are deciding to disaffiliate now because present legislation allows for churches to do so, with their property, until the end of 2023 (the deadline under the present legislation).
If your church is going through a discernment process, we encourage you to be a thoughtful and active participant in the hopes that you will educate others on the value of staying in the UMC. Much of what you see on this website will help.
We also encourage you to be a thoughtful participant in your church’s nomination process over the next few years so your congregation can be well represented, should the North Alabama Conference ever been given the opportunity to make this important decision as a whole. Perhaps you may even feel called to serve in this way. If so, we encourage you to let your pastor(s) and members of your lay leadership team know. If the position(s) are filled, you may wish to offer yourself as an alternative lay member to the Annual Conference. Whatever the case, we encourage you to prayerfully engage your church’s leadership nomination process.
Once your lay member(s) to Annual Conference are elected at your local church’s annual Charge Conference, it is important for you to stay in regular communication with them about your desire for the Annual Conference to stay in the UMC. They represent the best interest of your local church.
Additionally, lay persons can serve beyond the local church as lay equalization members of Annual Conference, including designated youth members. If you are interested in serving in this way, we encourage you to talk to your church’s District Superintendent.