Dear Clergy and Laity of North East,
On the heels of our 2022 Annual Conference, I am praying for each of you and your congregations. I am also praying for the 70 congregations in our conference that are approaching the June 30, 2022 disaffiliation date. Because the subject of disaffiliation is still on the table, many congregations are asking what it might mean for them.
Since the disaffiliation process (and implementation of the same) was new to all of us, and because there weren’t many details to undergird section 2553, we have learned a lot that we didn’t know this time last year. So now, based on our experience, we feel that additional information and guidelines can be offered IF your congregation is seeking to learn more about the subject and/or process of disaffiliation.
However, before you go through the additional information we are providing below; we encourage you to read (or re-read) Paragraph 2553 of our Discipline and the actual Disaffiliation Agreement with the North Georgia Conference — both of which are found HERE
. There`s no question that the first and best step to answering people’s questions is to understand the process, including timelines, expectations, and other details.
Additional Information and Guidelines
1. No church is required to vote or required to consider a vote to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. For reference, most of our 700+ churches in the North Georgia Conference have indicated to us that they will not take a vote to disaffiliate. Additionally, most of the pastors in the North Georgia Conference have confirmed that they will remain in the UMC.
2. There is no hurry or need to rush the process of discernment if your church is considering disaffiliation. Disaffiliation requests won’t be received by your DS any earlier than January 1, 2023 and will be accepted through February 28, 2023. No DS will prioritize churches that are “first in line” based on the timing of their submission regarding disaffiliation. Please know that no church will be assigned a church conference date prior to February 28. The schedule will be set to ensure completion and efficiency (not be based on when a request is made). There is no advantage or disadvantage to requesting earlier or later in the window. So, we encourage congregations to use the full amount of time between now and February to pray/discern about any decisions being considered.
3. We are still working on a checklist of education and types of events that we expect churches to facilitate in the process of discernment, but until those specifics are released in coming weeks, please encourage your congregation to pray, be kind to one another, and do no harm in any way to the Body of their church, District, Conference and the UMC.
4. There are to be NO secret meetings of any type about disaffiliation. Everyone in the congregation must be aware of what`s being discussed. Everyone in your congregation should be invited to any/all meeting(s) involving disaffiliation. These meetings should be well publicized with at least two weeks advance notice. Also, please notify me of any church-wide sessions you conduct so that I can choose to be present or send someone to be present.
5. As a UMC pastor who has agreed to clergy covenants, you are responsible for making sure there is no misinformation, untruths, skewed facts and/or intentional omission of information allowed in the church as your congregation discerns its future. Remember that you as the assigned pastor to your church have agreed to be the Pastor to ALL who attend and/or seek to be followers of Jesus. Regardless of which perspective a congregant takes, we are called to love them all.
6. Try to persuade your congregation to use the word “perspective” instead of “side” when alternate or conflicting viewpoints are being presented in the church and/or otherwise. Sometimes just a word change allows us to be a better witness to the world.
Finally, as a “catch all” for all of this, please feel free to email me if you have questions, need guidance, or want me to speak to your church. We will be glad to schedule time to help.
Thank you and peace and blessings!