MIDWAY UMC GENERAL CONFERENCE TASK FORCE FAQS
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MUMC's leadership published a letter on July 1st, 2021, entitled "A Perspective on the United Methodist Church and Looking to the Future." The letter, posted in the MUMC General Conference Communications Task Force section of the MUMC website, more clearly and carefully describes the issues. The core issue currently facing the UMC is how to best accommodate differences in opinion dealing with issues of human sexuality and the rights of self-avowed homosexuals to be ordained clergy and for same sex marriages to be recognized. It is an issue which has interfered with the meaningful conduct of business of the General Conference for over 50 years and the means of reconciling those differences of op`inion have not worked. The most recent attempt to allow for those of differing opinions to continue to worship and share Wesleyan-based Methodism along with the various UMC ministries is through a mediated agreement and plan called the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. The "Protocol" agreement is designed to allow a pathway for a gracious separation of the UMC denomination and thereby allow for accommodative Books of Discipline to govern on human sexuality issues with respect to post-UMC churches and affiliations. The General Conference Task Force respectfully requests anyone interested to learn more regarding the present challenge facing the UMC to visit the MUMC General Conference Communications Task Force section of the MUMC website.
The Protocol is a formal agreement created and signed by an ad hoc group of respected leaders from three constituencies in the UMC - traditionalists, centrists, and progressives - as a result of a months-long mediated negotiation. The signatories to the Protocol have agreed to support the development and implementation of legislation necessary to implement the terms of the Protocol. Hence, the Protocol is a mediated settlement making provisions to allow for the current UMC to accommodate legislative changes to the current Book of Discipline and simply allows for alternative post-UMC denominational affiliations to form and adopt their own disciplines. Our church leadership has been keeping abreast of the status what will be considered at General Conference being mindful that we want MUMC to always be a welcoming place of worship open to all members of the surrounding communities, exclusive of no one. There will be various options for the church to consider when the direction of the UMC denomination and formation of new Post-UMC affiliate denominations come into clearer focus. You can read more about the Protocol at www.gracethroughseparation.com
The General Conference (General Conference) will not consider the various legislative petitions presented until its next called meeting currently rescheduled for August 25 thru September 6, 2022 to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Annual conference for the North Georgia Conference (NGC) is generally held in late May or early June of each year which means NGC would not consider any legislation adopted by the General Conference until May or June of 2023 under normal conditions. However, it is always possible the Annual Conference could convene a special annual conference to consider and vote upon legislation adopted by General Conference After the Annual Conference chooses its direction or affiliation, if MUMC should desire to disaffiliate from the North Georgia Annual Conference, it will have until December 31, 2023 (subject to extension) to declare its intention and to complete the requirements of its plan for disaffiliation. This action of the local church will only take place after the congregation has been provided a clear understanding of the best options available to either chart its own independent future or choose another UMC affiliation.
North Georgia Conference's delegates to the 2020 General Conference were elected at the 2019 Annual Conference; after postponements due to the pandemic, those elected will still represent NGC at the 2022 General Conference. In general, lay delegates from the North Georgia Conference to the General Conference are voted on and elected at Annual Conference. Eleven lay delegates to the General Conference from the entire NGC are elected from a slate of nominees by a vote among all voting lay delegates attending the annual conference and eleven clergy are elected from a slate of nominees and voted among all voting clergy present at Annual Conference. MUMC sends the same number of lay delegates to the North Georgia Annual Conference equal to the number of NGC clergy appointed to have a vote at the North Georgia Annual Conference. Currently, MUMC has two voting clergy to NGC, so MUMC sends two lay delegates to the N.A. Annual Conference. Our lay delegates are nominated and elected annually at each charge conference of MUMC as needed to serve. Each delegate is appointed after nomination by the Nominating Committee and acceptance of willingness to serve. Delegates will consider the debate on all issues and vote their conscience after consideration of all discussions and factors reflecting upon the issue presented.
The charge conference is the basic unit in the connectional system of the United Methodist Church organized from the church in every pastoral charge as provided in the United Methodist Constitution (¶43) The charge conference meets annually for the purposes set forth in ¶247 of the Discipline, i.e., to be the connecting link between the local church and the general Church and to organize and administer the Pastoral charge in accordance with policies contained in the Book of Discipline. It has the general oversight of the church council or executive committee and each year elects officers to the church at a meeting called for that purpose. The Discipline provides that officers should serve no more than three consecutive years. As for matters put before the Board, voting members of the Board will be called upon initially for a voice vote and thereafter, if necessary, by show of hands or written ballot.
The short answer is yes. If the Protocol should pass and the NGC votes and thereby elects to affiliate with a denomination which maintains the traditional practices thereby adopting governance under the current Book of Discipline, MUMC will be guided by the same Book of Discipline by default if we take no other action and remain in the NGC. MUMC, however, would still have the option to vote on whether it desires to participate in the disaffiliation procedure adopted by the conference for local churches to follow in the event it is displeased with the direction of the Annual Conference and otherwise affiliate with a newly formed Methodist denomination.
If the UMC adopts the Protocol and subsequently modifies the Book of Discipline allowing for ordination of LGBTQ clergy and same sex marriage and the Annual Conference elects to stay with UMC, MUMC can stay with the UMC and be governed by the modified Book of Discipline by default. Conceivably, however, subject to interpretation of the "trust clause," the church could "opt out" from allowing church property to be used for purposes of conducting LGBTQ marriages. Nevertheless, in this unlikely event, the congregation would have to be willing to accept that a self-avowed LGBTQ pastor could be appointed to serve at MUMC, and appointed clergy of whatever sexual orientation would be permitted by the Book of Discipline to officiate off-campus same-sex marriages, if requested.
At the present time there are varying degrees of understanding as to what is actually taking place within the United Methodist Church at large and much discussion is being driven by speculation and fear. The MUMC General Conference Communications Task Force is currently working diligently to devise a communication strategy to educate the congregation on the issues and hopefully allow all who are interested in the matter to have an understanding of what the Church is dealing with, how we got here, and what the future UMC may look like.
The leadership of MUMC does not feel that allowing for other denominational affiliation options to take shape at this time and allowing for the North Georgia Conference to chart its vision of the Post-UMC in the event the Protocol legislation should pass would subject MUMC to "attacks" in any way as suggested by this question. Our leadership has endorsed the current Book of Discipline and will continue to do so as legislative plans are better defined and as our Church continues to Share the Joy of Christ with Forsyth County and surrounding communities.
It is really too early to predict what provisions will be contained in the final legislation to be presented for consideration at the General Conference. However, in the event the Protocol were to pass in its original form at the August-September 2022 General Conference, the Transitional Leadership Council, a 17-member team of theologically conservative Methodists, has released information regarding the concept of a Global Methodist Church. You can a growing description at globalmethodist.org. While the Protocol agreement contains a thorough proposal for funding of new denominations, it is a still only proposal subject to change; so therefore, it is too early to tell at this time. Naturally, if there is a division of the denomination, delegates to the General Conference know, as needs for funding of separate administrations are met, this will affect funding for UMC agencies like the Wesley Woods, Murphy Harpst, Camp Glisson, etc. Therefore, funding efforts for these ministries will have to be restructured.
The North Georgia Conference has provided for a plan of disaffiliation, if necessary, to which local churches may avail themselves following the General Conference vote in September of 2022. The disaffiliation procedure does allow for the local churches to keep church properties subject to payment of existing mortgage debt.
The leaders of MUMC believe our profession of faith has not changed and MUMC will continue to be the spiritual home to members of our community. No matter what might take place at General Conference in September 2022, MUMC will always be a place families will come to grow spiritually and to be filled with the Holy Spirit and, in turn, be inspired to share the joy of Christ. We will continue to make disciples and be a beacon of hope in the community. Prayerfully, we will continue to grow in our Forsyth County communities and, despite the political climate or challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, our congregation will transition following the General Conference more united than before. We will not be deterred and will always remain Christ centered and prepared daily to lead by example. As a local United Methodist Church and as professing members of the UMC, what we say we believe is articulated and readily referenced in our denomination's current Book of Discipline, unless we choose to change, disaffiliate, or affiliate with an alternative.
Glossary of Terms
Churches that operate independently of other churches. (see episcopal)
All leaders and congregations are connected in the United Methodist Church.
2a. Connectional covenant -The pledge to financially support, in full, the denominational ministries of the United Methodist Church.
A mediated negotiation statement. The signatories to the Protocol have agreed to support the development and implementation of legislation necessary to implement the terms of the Protocol. The Protocol suggests separation as a solution for the disagreement over homosexuality. (See: www.gracethroughseparation.com/faqs)
The clause that must be included in the deeds of all United Methodist properties. The property is to be maintained for the benefit and work of the local church. When a local congregation closes, the property becomes the responsibility of the Annual Conference.
A document setting forth the basic position of The United Methodist Church on social issues. The Social Principles, agreed on by General Conference, speak to human issues in the contemporary world from a biblical and theological foundation.
Words used to describe the movement resulting from the work of John and Charles Wesley. Those outside of the Wesley's group called the groups "Methodists" because of their methodical approach to their religion. Methodist/Methodism/Wesleyan refers to a large family of churches and denominations throughout the world.
The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 by the merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church. Today, The United Methodist Church is global, with more than 12 million members around the world. (Read more at umc.org).
a church committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly. We believe the Global Methodist Church will be filled with warm-hearted, Jesus loving, and Holy Spirit inspired people. They will be grounded in Scripture and the life giving confessions of the Christian faith as found in the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. (Read more at www.globalmethodist.org)
a congregation that embraces and works for the full participation of all people in the United Methodist Church, including full equality in membership, ordination, and marriage for God's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children. (Read more at www.rmnetwork.org)
The clergy deployment system for The United Methodist Church is referred to as the itinerant system. Ordained ministers are sent by the bishop to their assignments (either a church or ministry beyond the local church). The clergy is obligated to accept these appointments.
One or more local churches, governed by a single charge conference, and to which an ordained or licensed pastor is appointed.
An elder (ordained minister) who is elected to the office of bishop. A bishop serves as a general superintendent of the denomination over a regional area. It is the responsibility of the bishops to see that the rules, regulations, and responsibilities developed by the General Conference are understood and effectively carried out. (see also Episcopacy)
A. Charge Conference - The charge conference is the basic governing body of each local United Methodist church, and is made up of members of the local church. It meets at least once per year to attend to the ministry and business of the local church. It also sets salaries for the pastor and staff, elects the members of the church council, and recommends candidates for ordained ministry.
B. Annual Conference - A regional, organizational unit of The United Methodist Church and the yearly business meeting of that unit, presided over by a bishop. The business session is composed of equal numbers of clergy and laity. At least one layperson from each pastoral charge is a member. There are 132 annual conference worldwide. It is a time to review ministry, adopt policy and resolutions, and strengthen spiritual life. (Midway is part of the North Georgia Annual Conference.)
C. Jurisdictional Conference - A larger, regional conference of United Methodists. There are five U.S. jurisdictions. They convene every four years. The business includes the election and assignment of bishops. (Midway is part of the Southeastern Jurisdiction)
D. Central Conference - One of seven geographic areas outside the territorial United States, each composed of annual conferences as determined by the General Conference. They have responsibilities similar to those of Jurisdictional Conferences. (www.umc.org/en/content/central-conferences)
E. General Conference - The highest legislative body in The United Methodist Church. The voting membership consists of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates elected by the annual conferences. It convenes every four years to determine the denomination's future direction. It is the only body that can speak officially for the denomination.
The voting lay delegate from a local church to the annual conference. Each annual conference consists of an equal number of lay members and clergy members. Lay members may speak and vote on all items coming before the Annual Conference, except those relating to clergy membership and ordination and election of clergy delegates to conferences.
Those who are more conservative in their theology. They do not support changes to The Discipline regarding issues related to human sexuality.
Those who are more liberal in their theology. They support changes to The Discipline regarding issues related to human sexuality.
Those who are considered "moderate" or in between the theology of traditionalist and progressives.
The 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church adopted a "disaffiliation agreement," allowing United Methodist churches to leave the denomination through the end of 2023 "for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of The Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference, or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues which follow." (Source: www.ngumc.org/disaffiliation-process-and-information)
The share each annual conference or local church pays to support international, national and regional mission of the United Methodist Church.
A fundamental book outlining the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of The United Methodist Church. The Discipline can only be amended by the General Conference.
All active and retired bishops of The United Methodist Church. The council meets twice a year. The Council is expected to speak to and for the Church, and give leadership in faith.
Nine persons elected by General Conference who rule on questions of constitutionality in church law and practice.
Refers to the office of bishop. Also refers to the system of church government in which bishops oversee the spiritual and temporal welfare of the denomination. The episcopal system is established by the Constitution as an integral part of the organizational structure of United Methodism.