Discernment Informational Meeting – December 11, 2022

Dear Church Family,

The Church Council has been working with the Fact Finding Committee to develop activities and timelines to educate our congregation in the process of discernment, discussion, and prayer regarding the future of Emory UMC. We offer this congregational prayer calendar and guided prayers as a tool in our discernment process.  Please join us on the following designated dates for this prayerful journey:

January 1, 2023 – February 9, 2023

Discernment Resources

Why Become An Independent Church?

Supporting Perspectives:

Considerations:

  • Allows for Emory to oversee our own future with a focus on both the local and global communities
  • Allows Emory to set the Vision and Mission rather than following that which is set by others
  • Allows for flexibility without the limitations of a denominational structure
  • Removes the requirement to pay denominational apportionments

Baltimore Washington Conference UMC Resources

Town Hall: Setting the Record Straight


2022 BWC Trustees Report


Real Talk: Stay or Go Webinar


What should United Methodist congregations know about disaffiliation?


Resources for Disaffiliation

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is Emory considering separation from the United Methodist denomination? :

Church Council appointed a laity committee charged with researching the multitude of articles with varying opinions and interpretations regarding the UMC’s proposed “separation or disaffiliation” plans, theological differences, and impending Annual and General Conference actions. It is vital for church members to have facts about the cause of the conflicting issues in order to make informed decisions regarding the options that will be presented to the General Conference once it convenes.

The committee acknowledges that our congregation may hold a mix of differing beliefs along a wide spectrum from traditional to progressive. Verified confessing members will make the decision about where the church ultimately aligns – to leave the UMC and join a new traditional denomination, become a non-denominational or remain in the Post Separation United Methodist Church (psUMC).

Yes, it is true that rumors of an “amicable denomination separation” have been bubbling up for decades. At the 2016 General Conference, the need for “a split” became so strong, ugly, and dysfunctional that an amicable separation or “just getting along and living together” was deemed impossible. At a 2019 special “called” General Conference, a plan was approved for a “gracious and amicable split” to solve the conflict once and for all. A traditional “disaffiliation” plan was approved as an addition to the Book of Discipline (2553), but did not end the conflict. Progressives immediately rebelled against that plan. Those disagreements resulted in the creation of several other plans to pave the way for the denomination to resolve the conflict at the 2020 General Conference. The petitions for those plans are still valid agenda items for the August 29 – September 6, 2022 General Conference. Unfortunately, the 2022 General Conference has been postponed until 2024, thereby further delaying the opportunity to resolve this 40-year old conflict. The passage of an amicable split at the 2024 General Conference is very unlikely at this point and the only viable option for traditionalists moving forward is (2553).

While human sexuality is the issue receiving the most public attention and debate, it is not the root issue. It is a symptom of a deeper divide about theological and institutional issues. By embracing and celebrating the popularity of homosexuality and same sex marriage, the modern culture has forced the UMC to address the issues regarding LGBTQAI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, asexual and intersex and other non-heterosexual and self identified genders, i.e. gender fluid, gender queer, pansexual, polyamory, two spirit, allies, kink, and non-binary). The language regarding homosexuality in the Book of Discipline has remained constant for decades. Legislative petitions have been submitted by Methodist individuals and groups requesting removal of this language, which exposes theological differences in the beliefs regarding human sexuality. See https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/general-conference-2020-advance-daily-christian-advocate

Advocate contains the petitions to be presented. See Volume 2, Sections 1 & 2 – Reports of Proposed Legislation.

Methodism is our expression of Christian faith, but we are no longer “United.” Traditionalists feel they aren’t leaving but the church is leaving them. The goal was never about winning or taking over the UMC. The Traditionalist’s goal is a church that is fully focused on living a life that aligns with Biblical Truth. A life focused on growing more and more in the likeness of Jesus. A life and church focused on mission and ministry and not a church mired in a bureaucracy, dysfunctional, divisive and struggling over sexuality.

The “United” Methodist Church “name” never truly signified theologically united; it was rooted in the merger of the United Evangelical Brethren Church and The Methodist Church in 1968. A “name change” would require a super-majority vote at General Conference and ratification by Annual Conferences.

It has been proven over decades that it is not possible to live together with the deep, theological differences. Methodists can still have respect and compassion for one another, but we cannot all live in the same house any longer. Separating into two expressions of faith is both a beginning and an end for both Traditionalists and Progressives – an end to conflict and uncertainty, and the beginning of vibrant denominations that can focus time and resources on missions and ministries instead of focusing on the conflicts that divide us. Still, there will be deep grief for all Methodists when separation happens.

Rick Warren – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate”.

With (2553) expiring 12/31/2023 and the April 30, 2023 deadline imposed by the Baltimore Washington Conference (BWC) to file for disaffiliation, now is the time for congregations to consider it’s future affiliation — whether that’s remaining in The United Methodist Church, staying in Wesleyan connection by affiliating with another Methodist denomination, or becoming an independent church.

Emory will not change who we are as a church by leaving the UMC. If you joined Emory because your beliefs aligned with what is taught here, and if you love the church Emory is today, then a vote to leave the UMC will allow Emory to remain the church you know and cherish.

The Baltimore Washington Conference (BWC) laid out a five-step process for each church seeking to separate from the UMC:

  1. A viewing of Stay or Go: Real Talk for United Methodists Exploring Their Future
  2. Study, Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and The United Methodist Church, (Abingdon Press, 2017). This is a four‐week small group study with an impartial approach to the matter at hand.
  3. An open forum where safe space is created for questions and answers that have arisen after the aforementioned steps. The forum will include the District Superintendent.
  4. The District Superintendent will assist congregants who are interested in transferring their membership to another UMC congregation if their church conference decides to disaffiliate.
  5. The general terms and conditions from the Conference Board of Trustees and the calculation of the church’s withdrawal liability payment from the Conference Board of Pensions should be shared with all professing members of the congregation

December 31, 2023.

A special called session of the BWC-UMC will be held June 2023 (exact date TBD), for the purpose of voting to release local congregations that have completed the necessary steps and settled all financial and legal obligations to the BWC by that date. Emory UMC will be among this group if our discernment period reveals a desire to leave the denomination.

While it’s too soon to determine a specific affiliation pathway for the future, there are options available. Options include: the Global Methodist Church, another denomination, or become independent.

If the discernment process for Emory reveals a ministry calling outside the UMC, registered and verified members of the church will have the opportunity to participate in a special called church conference for the purpose of voting to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. The vote to disaffiliate requires verified members to be present at the special called church conference. A date for the vote will be set by the District Superintendent following completion of Emory’s period of discernment.

The basic reason for the UMC split is that some churches in the denomination desire to abide by the covenant of biblical core beliefs that was used to establish the UMC, and some are choosing to no longer abide by those beliefs. Current UMC leadership across the United States including those in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, are choosing not to abide by the core beliefs and are actively acting in defiance and refusing to uphold the Book of Discipline. This includes both the issue of supporting the practice of same-sex relationships, ordaining self-avowed practicing homosexuals as pastors, elders and Bishops as well as other issues surrounding the Sovereignty of God, the validity and relevance of the Holy Bible in it’s entirely, that Jesus is the only way to salvation and Original Sin

UMC Glossary

General Conference is the only body within the United Methodist Church that can set official policy and speak for the denomination. It meets every four years and is composed of lay and clergy delegates elected by members of each Annual Conference worldwide. The delegates are equally divided between clergy and laity. Bishops attend the General Conference but cannot vote. Different bishops serve as presiding officers during the conference. Other bishops cannot speak unless permission is specifically granted by the delegates. During General Conference, delegates discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, agencies, annual conferences, and other groups within the denomination. These actions result in a revision of the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s book of law, and Book of Resolutions, policies of the denomination on current social issues.

Annual Conference is described by the church’s Constitution and (other parts of the) Book of Discipline as the “basic “unit” of the church. In the United States, an annual conference may cover an entire state, only part of the state, or even parts of two or more states. The United States has 54 annual conferences, supervised by bishops in 46 episcopal areas. There are 75 annual conferences in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, which are supervised by 20 bishops. In the U.S., the annual conference has a central office and professional staff that coordinate and conduct ministry and the business of the conference. Each year an equal number of clergy members and lay members attend their conference’s annual conference session for worship, fellowship, and to conduct the business of the conference, which may last 3 to 5 days. These sessions include reports of past and ongoing work; adoption of future goals, programs and budgets; ordination of clergy members as deacons and elders; and election of delegates to Jurisdictional and General Conferences (every 4 years). The bishop presides over these meetings.

Charge Conference is the basic governing body of each United Methodist local church and is composed of all members of the Church Council. All members of the charge conference must be members of the local church. The charge conference must meet at least once per year. The charge conference directs the work of the church and gives general oversight to the church council, reviews and evaluates the mission and ministry of the church, sets salaries for the pastor and staff, elects the members of the church council, and recommends candidates for ordained ministry. The District Superintendent or an ordained elder designated by the District Superintendent presides at the meeting. The Church Council works on behalf of the Charge Conference between meetings.

Church Conference is the convening of the Charge Conference as a meeting in which all members of a local United Methodist church are invited to attend and are extended the privilege of vote. A Church Conference is called to have broad participation of the members of the congregation. The Church Conference is authorized by the District Superintendent, and District Superintendent or an ordained elder designated by the District Superintendent presides at the meeting.

Living Faithfully – A Four Week Small Group Study

Each congregation member is encouraged to read
Living Faithfully : Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church by David L Jr Barnhart; Jill M Johnson; Rebekah Jordan Gienapp.

You may purchase your own copy at many retailers where books are sold, such as Amazon where it is available in paperback or Kindle.  In addition, Emory Church has purchased over 20 paperback copies which will be available to the congregation to borrow.

Small study groups will begin soon to delve into the topics of this book. Conversation circles for those not involved in small groups will be held in the fellowship hall following the worship service each Sunday in February.

Contact Us

It is our hope to answer this and all other questions at an upcoming congregational discernment meeting. Thank you.

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Disclaimer

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only and represents a good faith effort by the Emory UMC Fact Finding Committee to educate and inform our congregation on the full range of perspectives regarding the current issues facing the UMC and their impact on the future of our church. The inclusion of any links herein does not imply a recommendation or endorsement of the views expressed within them by the Fact Finding Committee, and we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness or factual accuracy of any opinions/information presented. We encourage the congregation to prayerfully consider all information disseminated, independently verify any information upon which you rely, and seek out truthful information on your own such that if the time comes, you will be able to make a decision on disaffiliation or not based upon your own informed heart and mind.