Frequently Asked Questions
New paragraph 2553
Text of Zoom Call for New England Congregations Discerning Disaffiliation, September 5, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is your goal?
We’re a group of congregations in the New England Annual Conference who are working on discerning whether not our individual congregations will disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church.
We’re not submitting legislation to General Conference.
We’re not advocating for changes to the policies of the UMC.
We’re not trying to convince churches who do not want to, to join us.
We are committing to an 8-month process of discernment for our congregations to decide whether or not we want to separate from the UMC.
2) Are congregations working on this collectively as a group or individually as separate congregations?
Each congregation is responsible for their own work and process. No congregation will be bound by the work or decision of another congregation. Our specific discernment will be separate and unique for each congregation. However, we’re on parallel journeys and want to support each other. The plan we are pursing has been created through a collective process over several months. We will continue to support each other with information, wisdom, encouragement and meaningful connection.
3) Why would a congregation leave the UMC?
We are considering leaving the UMC because of the anti-LGBTQ policies and teachings of the denomination. We are discerning leaving as a way of pursuing justice in solidarity with people who are explicitly discriminated against by the UMC. This is NOT about saving money, or acting on old grudges. In the Spirit of Jesus Christ, we are primarily centered in liberation and justice.
In May 2019, a group called UM-Forward released a proclamation titled Loved and Liberated. The following quotation is from the preamble of that document and it embodies the values and commitments we seek to embody: “We envision a vibrant church living the Gospel and uncompromising on Jesus’ love ethic of full inclusion and affirmation. We proclaim the full liberation of Persons of Color + Queer + Trans (PoC+Q+T) People in The United Methodist Church. We pursue an intersectional and anti-colonial framework to social justice and the dismantling of white supremacy, cisgender-heteronormativity, and patriarchy. We declare that there can be no compromising of full inclusion in any way.”
The document also includes visions, core values, commitments and non-negotiables.
We are looking to connect with congregations who interested in acting on this platform. In other words, even though this group has been motivated to act by the decisions of the most recent General Conference, this is not solely about the anti-gay rhetoric and practices of the UMC.
4) What does this group think will come out of the upcoming Judicial Council, General Conference and Annual Conference?
We do not know what any of these groups will decide or how those decisions will affect our work. There is a chance that rules and guidelines will significantly change. Starting this process is simply an attempt to leave option of leaving the UMC open to us. But there are variables that may change things. Rather than waiting to see what happens in the coming years, we are trying to position ourselves to be ready to act.
5) Will you be allowed to the leave the UMC if you decide to?
Yes. This is not a disruptive protest action. We are following the Conference Policies (Resolution 211) and the Book of Discipline literally. This process is open to us according to the rules of the denomination.
6) If you leave will you take your buildings and other property with you?
Yes. The current provisions for disaffiliation, the new paragraph 2553 that goes into effect January 1, suspends the trust clause and allows congregations to take their assets with them if they leave the denomination.
7) What is your timeline?
Following our current procedure, congregations will be able to leave the UMC between summer of 2020 and December 2023.
8) What if a congregation decides they do not want to leave the UMC, either because of our discernment process or because of other changes?
We do not have a predetermined outcome. Perhaps different churches will decide to take different actions. Regardless of where this leaves, we are committed to figuring out what our options are and discerning what we want to do.
9) Are you forming a new denomination?
No. That is not our goal with this process. We are focused on decided on whether or not our congregations will leave the UMC. We are not addressing questions like “Who will maintain ownership of the denominational property in other states?” There will be many options open to churches that leave the UMC including: joining other denominations, being independent, loosely connecting with other congregations that once were a part of the UMC. One of the things we will explore in the discernment process is this very question.
10) Why does your group not have a name?
We are not forming a new coalition or advocacy group. There are many in the United Methodist Church already. We are operating as local congregations who are learning together. We feel that this specific piece we are attending to, needs to be explored at the local church level.
11) Can churches not in this discernment process follow your process and progress?
Yes! We think our process will be helpful to others. We’re trying to be completely transparent in our discernment and welcome communication. But because this is such a big task, we won’t have lots of resources to direct toward public facing communication. But we are very open to sharing what we learn. Likewise, we welcome accountability and input from those who can help us in our process. Specifically, we welcome feedback from and accountability to People of Color, Queer and Trans people (POC+Q+T).