Since nearly the outset of the merger, the people of the UMC have been discussing and debating the language in our Book of Discipline about the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons within the life the church. Currently, this discussion has moved into a fuller discernemnt around best next steps, especially as it relates to the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ+ persons within our denomination as a whole.
Because of the way the UMC is organized, no one individual can speak on behalf of the church and all matters of importance come before the body at a gathering that is known as the General Conference with representatives from all around the globe. Due to the pandemic, this body has not been able to meet and the next scheduled General Conference is slated for 2024.
Because of the postponent of General Conference, there are some leaders who are no longer willing to wait for General Conference to happen. One group of leaders have joined together to form a new denomination that is called the Global Methodist Church (GMC).
By a disaffiliation process that the General Conference enacted in 2019, some congregations are leaving The United Methodist Church by requesting and receiving the approval from their annual conferences to depart while retaining their property and their financial assets. They are splintering in a variety of directions. One church in Alabama departed the UMC and is now a Free Methodist Church. And a church in Houston joined the United Church of Christ. Still others are seeking to become independent congregations, while others are joining the GMC.
The Church Council at St. Thomas is prayerfully discerning our best approach and believe empowering our members with resources is appropriate. A more formal process of church-wide discernment is targeted for early 2023. In the meantime, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the denominational landscape, read through the resources below, and begin noting your own questions. If you have further questions, please feel free to speak with Pastor Abi or Pastor Arum, or the following lay leaders within our community: Joe Steen (Council Chair, District Delegate), Pat Brown (2022 Lay Leader, District Delegate), Pat Dodson (UMW President, District Delegate), Holly Banner (Delegate from St. Thomas to Annual Conference), Paula Renfro (2023 Lay Leader), Bill Coppa (2024 Lay Leader).
* Regarding the Protocol: Due to the postponement of the 2020 Gen Conf and subsequent postponements, the Protocol could not be presented as legislation and, therefore, it has not yet been voted on. The current (and temporary) process for separation falls under Paragraph 2553 that was added to the Book of Discipline at General Conference in 2019.