Open Letter on the Process of Disaffiliating from The UMC for WCUMC & RHUMC
Dear Members of Rock Hall United Methodist Church and Wesley Chapel,
The Leadership Boards of Rock Hall United Methodist Church (RHUMC) and Wesley Chapel (Wesley) jointly met on Sunday, February 12, 2023 to discuss our next steps to prepare for disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church.
As United Methodists, we believe in one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that God gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. We believe the Bible is the revealed word of God and is authoritative for all things in faith and life. We believe that it is our mission to make disciples of all nations.
Our disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church (UMC) is grounded in a disagreement on the authority of Scripture[GP1] . [GP2] It is our conviction, along with that of many other congregations, that the UMC is on a path that denies traditionally held beliefs in the sovereignty of God and the authority of Scripture, and is operating in ways contrary to the Book of Discipline. These are most visible in the work of many leaders in the UMC to change the Church’s position on marriage away from a traditional view based on clear passages of Scripture that establish marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. Many leaders in the UMC are seeking to adopt a cultural view of marriage in an effort to be more accepting of people. These leaders are not being held accountable for practices that are outside the constraints of our Book of Discipline. While we believe that loving our neighbor is vital, it is possible without endorsing choices that stand contrary to God’s Word or our denominational standards. It should be clear that we invite and encourage LGBTQ individuals to be included in and loved on by our church.
Here are the highlights from our Leadership Boards’ joint meeting on February 12, 2023:
We unanimously voted that as we move forward to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church, our intention is to move to the Global Methodist Church, while we continue to discern our direction. The Global Methodist Church (GMC) is a Methodist denomination of Protestant Christianity subscribing to conservative views consistent with the Bible’s teachings. It was founded in May 2022 by the Wesleyan Covenant Association. Not all, but most of the churches leaving the United Methodist Church are moving to The Global Methodist Church , which would make for a smooth transition.[GP3]
As part of discerning our direction, we have formed a committee to review other affiliations/denominations, as well as explore the options of becoming a non-denominational
church. Dean Wood, Tom Willis and Clyde Robbins comprise the committee. Neither the committee nor the Boards would make the final decision. Rather, all members of RHUMC and Wesley will be eligible to vote on the matter.
Every member of the combined Leadership Board expressed that these two months of [GP4] worshipping together has been a great experience.
The next joint meeting of the Boards is scheduled for Saturday, March 11th at 9:30 a.m. at RHUMC Fellowship Hall.
Next Steps in the Disaffiliation Process:
Our District Superintendent, Reverend Elmer Davis (D.S. Davis), will host an Open Forum specifically for RHUMC and Wesley regarding disaffiliation. D.S. Davis has advised that such a forum will most likely be scheduled after Easter. All members of both churches will receive either and email or a postal letter advising them when and where the forum will be held[GP5] .
After the Open Forum hosted by D.S. Davis, our church members will be sent a letter informing them of the time and place of a Church Conference [GP6] to Vote for Disaffiliation. On the vote to disaffiliate:
Only professing members of the church may vote[GP7] for their church’s decision.
Only those in attendance, in person, can vote. The D.S. has made it clear that there will be no exceptions – no Zoom attendance, no proxies, no phone attendance/votes, etc.
Of those present, there must be at least a 2/3 vote to pass a resolution to disaffiliate.
In the meantime, all members of RHUMC and Wesley are directed to:
Watch the webinar, “Stay or Go: Real Talk for United Methodists Exploring Their Future” which is available on our website, yourrockhall.church, under the Disaffiliation tab. After watching the webinar, please complete the form at the end of the webinar acknowledging that you have viewed it. (Pastor Gary Priddy recently made the webinar available for viewing after our church service on Sunday, February 12.)
Participate in the four-week study of Living Faithfully. Pastor Gary has already hosted one four-week study, but plans to host another one again in the month of March.
Watch the “Differences Dividing the United Methodist Church,” which is comprised of six short videos prepared by Reverend Rob Renfroe of Good News Magazine, whose mission is “to lead all people within The United Methodist Church to the faithful and vibrant practice of orthodox Wesleyan Christianity.” This is available for viewing on our website as well.
D.S. Davis strongly emphasized the first two points directly above as important to being informed for the vote on the disaffiliation.
The Boards will continue to work on the administrative tasks that need to be completed for the disaffiliation, which includes submitting required resolutions for Church Conference and Annual Conference.
Also, don’t forget that following our joint church service on Sunday, February 26th, at 11:30 a.m., there’s a pot-luck lunch and church information meeting at Rock Hall Fellowship Hall. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your thoughts on our joint church services together, what you liked, what you didn’t like, or what more you would want. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
In Christian Faith,
Maria Coakley and Artie Kendall, Leadership Board Chairs