RESPONSES FROM THE
LEADERSHIP TEAM TO QUESTIONS RECEIVED REGARDING STAYING VS.
LEAVING THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Why is The Book of Discipline not being enforced?
There are two answers to this question. First, when clergy are disciplined, it is a confidential process, so there is no way for people outside the process to know whether or not the Discipline is being enforced. The other reason is the “Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation that was negotiated among all the concerned groups (from David Meredith to Keith Boyette) called for all action against clergy accused of violating the Discipline in actions related to homosexuality would be acknowledged but put into abeyance until General Conference 2020 dealt with the issue. Unfortunately, General Conference 2020 was postponed until this May. Several Bishops have decided to use the abeyance instructions, several have not.
If the question is enforcing the Discipline in regard to Bishops, that gets a little more difficult. Because the Methodist Episcopal Church South did not want the Methodist Episcopal Church North pressuring them on integration, when the two entities re-united in 1939, each Jurisdiction has authority over the Bishops in their area. For that reason, the Western Jurisdiction must investigate and make determinations on their Bishops, just as the North Central must discipline the Bishops in this area.
Are we, Grove City United Methodist Church, complying with The Book of Discipline in our process?
All the steps we are taking have been done by both The Book of Discipline and the guidelines of the West Ohio Conference.
Is there a possibility that the DS and the Bishop would not allow us to vote?
The question of voting or not is ours. We are in the midst of process to determine whether or not we will request a Church Conference for this issue. Both District Superintendent Tim Bias and Bishop Greg Palmer have been accommodating to churches wanting to hold Disaffiliation Church Conferences.
If we disaffiliate and go to the GMC, do we take our property?
Yes. The reason we are considering this now is that a special arrangement is currently available. Until December 31, 2023, churches may disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church with a Church Conference requiring 67% approval, the payment of 2 years of apportionments and payment of unfunded pension liabilities. If those requirements are satisfied, the church would leave the denomination with the property.
If we remain in the United Methodist Church, will we have a gay pastor?
As our Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church currently reads, a pastor cannot be a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” The emphasis is on the PRACTICE. A celibate gay person has always been eligible to become United Methodist clergy. There is the possibility that the wording could change at the General Conference in May of 2024. However, even if it would change, the process for matching a pastor with a church is based on consultation between the Leadership Team and our District Superintendent. There are many factors that are discussed during this consultation, including theological perspective, approaches to ministry and giftedness. The desired outcome of this process is a positive match between pastor and congregation that allows the best prospect for effective ministry.
Will we be required to perform same sex marriages if we remain United Methodist?
No. Currently, the Book of Discipline does not allow churches to have same sex marriages on their property. Even if the Book of Discipline would change, the local church’s Board of Trustees can establish a wedding policy. Furthermore, pastors always have the right to decide whether or not they will officiate at any wedding.
If the church votes to leave but cannot pay the
how will the denomination decide on a new pastor?
The payment of apportionment and unfunded pension liabilities are a part of the requirements of disaffiliation. If a church was unable to pay those liabilities, then they would not have been able to satisfy the requirements of the Book of Discipline for disaffiliation under Paragraph 2553.
If only members can vote, why was everyone allowed to answer the survey?
We wanted the thoughts of the worshiping congregation as a whole, plus we had several people in the meetings who were preparing to become members. In the next information gathering we will only have members register their thoughts.
Please clarify where the United Methodist Church is on gay ministers and marriages and where the Global Methodist Church is on these issues?
Currently there is very little difference between the United Methodist Church and the Global Methodist Church. Both require chastity or celibacy in singleness, and faithfulness in marriage. From Paragraph 405.2 in the Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Book of Discipline, pastors shall: ““Nurture and cultivate spiritual disciplines and patterns of holiness consistent with the General Rules, including……………..fidelity in a Christian marriage between one man and one woman, chastity in singleness…” In the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, Paragraph 304.3: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals1 are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.2”
Neither permits pastors to participate in same sex marriages nor allow same-sex weddings on church property. Should a church choose to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and become independent, they would choose their own polity regarding human sexuality.
Within the United Methodist Church, there are pastors and churches and denominational leaders who have violated paragraph 304.3. Please see the response to the question, “Why is the Discipline not being enforced for more information on this issue.”
Will gay community (lgbt etc) be welcome to the congregation of a leaving church?
The mission of the United Methodist Church to “Make Disciples of
Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World,” and The Global Methodist
Church’s stated mission is to, “make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship
passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly.” Should a church choose
to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and become independent, they
would choose their own polity regarding human sexuality.
The difficulty in answering this question comes from public perception versus stated practice. The statement from the Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Book of Discipline says in Paragraph 405.2, in referring to clergy, that they shall “Nurture and cultivate spiritual disciplines and patterns of holiness consistent with the General Rules, including……………..fidelity in a Christian marriage between one man and one woman, chastity in singleness…” The same is to be required of any employee (Paragraph 704.5.) Further, the Book, in its’ Social Witness, #7, “We believe that human sexuality is a gift of God that is to be affirmed as it is exercised within the legal and spiritual covenant of a loving and monogamous marriage between one man and one woman (Exodus 20:14, Matthew 19:3-9, Ephesians 5:22-33).” If a local church or a pastor violate these the church and/or the pastor As presented there are no restrictions on homosexuals worshiping or participating in the life of the local church. Paragraph 354 of the Transitional Book of Discipline gives the actions to be taken if a church or pastor violates these standards: “Should a congregation consistently advance doctrines or engage in practices not in conformity with this Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline or fail to remit in full the connectional funding set forth in ¶ 349, the Transitional Leadership Council or its successor shall have the authority to effectuate such a change independently, provided that the following provisions are met: 1. If the current pastor of the congregation is promoting doctrines or practices contrary to those of the Global Methodist Church, the bishop shall remove the pastor and appoint a pastor who will promote and defend the doctrines and practices of the Global Methodist Church. The bishop shall then allow time for the new pastor to bring the congregation into conformity.
The problem for disaffiliating churches has been the public perception, in news media and among the LGBTQ community, that their stance on this issue makes them anti-gay, thus creating a barrier. For related information, see the answer to the question “Why is the Discipline not being enforced.”