We Voted to Disaffiliate, Now What?
I’m sure many of you are still trying to sort through all the emotions following your church’s vote to disaffiliate. Despite the emotions that all this has brought to the surface, we have a responsibility to make plans for our next steps.
Last month, when your leadership board met, they made the decision to recommend to the membership that our church re-affiliate with the Global Methodist Church (GMC). I believe there are at least 5 reasons make this a wise decision:
1st - The GMC offers a smooth transition for what could be a dramatic change. As Methodists, we have learned to operate under a well-developed church discipline and organizational structure. These flow out of a traditional Wesleyan connectional denominational system. In The GMC, those systems that have worked well will be retained, which will ease our transition. Our joining The GMC will offer us an opportunity for both a spiritual reformation and ministry revival since the GMC is organized around sound biblical and theological principals that we don't have to invest inordinate amounts of time, money, and people developing that would be necessary if we decided to go it alone.
2nd - The GMC provides ongoing support and accountability for our churches. The GMC is committed to helping each local church avoid pitfalls during the transition and beyond. By offering churches a consistent structure for dealing with the pastor, our finances, legal matters and doctrine, each church will be in a much better position than if we chose to remain independent. Additionally, no New Testament Church was accountable only unto itself. As some 100 churches on the Eastern Shore are in the process of Disaffiliation, we will be continue to be in connection with vibrant churches on the Shore and beyond.
3rd - The GMC has established a commitment to continuing many of the key features we have come to apprecaite as part of the Wesleyan Way. These principals include affirming called and empowered women into ministry, living as a prophetic witness for justice while not falling into the trap of secular politics; and encouraging Christians to agreeable disagree over the nonessential beliefs of the Christian faith while unapologetically teaching and defending the core truths of the gospel as expressed in our doctrinal documents.
4th - The GMC offers us an opportunity to be a part of a loud, prophetic voice when speak on the cultural and justice issues and their connection to spiritual warfare. Currently there are over 5000 churches in process to disaffiliate from the UMC, it is expected that a large portion of those churches will join the GMC, as we are planning. It is anticipated that the GMC will be a very large denomination when the dust settles over the next couple of years. Our strength is and will be in the unity that the GMC provides, that an independent status can't.
5th - Finally, some have asked me: “What if we join the GMC and don’t like it?” Know this, The GMC has consistently expressed a value of congregational freedom to discontinue their connection if the church feels so moved by God. Rather than the UMC’s punitive structure for keeping churches in place, the GMC plans to maintain the connection by fostering a healthy, faithful, and effective Wesleyan denomination. If a church plans to leave, there will be no trust clause, no property tax, and no unfunded liability to deal with. The GMC holds that a holy and healthy witness will be the foundation to a vibrant denomination and a local church should be free to discontinue the connection if they fail to remain faithful to this vision.
I pray you find these as compelling as I do. I feel the GMC will be an excellent landing place for our churches as we continue to discern God’s call for us in Rock Hall.