Discerning and Discussing; A Helpful Guide

August 29, 2022

The United Methodist Church, and in turn, the Louisiana Conference, finds itself in a season of discerning. There are some congregations wondering about the future of The United Methodist Church and whether they should consider disaffiliating from it.

As a result of this discernment process, some outside groups are intentionally spreading information that is false. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the various misperceptions or misinformation that some congregations are receiving as they are discerning their next steps.
 




Is the United Methodist Church “splitting”? 

No. The term “split” applies when there is a negotiated agreement within the denomination to divide assets and resources. No such agreement has been made in The United Methodist Church. The earliest point at which such an agreement could be made would be at the next General Conference to be held in 2024. A more accurate term, as suggested by the Rev. William Lawrence, retired dean of Perkins School of Theology and former member of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church, is “splintering.” What is happening is that some traditionalist leaders have decided to create their own denomination (the Global Methodist Church). Leaders of that denomination and other unofficial advocacy groups, such as the Wesleyan Covenant Association, which created it, are encouraging like-minded United Methodist congregations and clergy to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church and join their denomination instead.

Is there action needed on behalf of a church that is remaining in the United Methodist Church?

No. If a church has decided to remain United Methodist, there is no action; be it a signed declaration or notice that is needed.  




Is the United Methodist Church asking traditionalists to leave the denomination? 

No. The requests for disaffiliations are coming largely from the Wesleyan Covenant Association and, in turn, the Global Methodist Church. Additionally, the contributions of traditionalists have been part of our rich history and will continue to shape our future history. Diversity is, and always will be, the cornerstone of our Wesleyan denomination.
 

Is it true that if you are progressive, you should stay United Methodist, but if you are a traditionalist, you have no other choice than to leave? 

No. The UMC will continue to be a denomination with traditionalists, centrists, and progressives. The UMC's position on human sexuality remains under the traditionalist plan passed at General Conference 2019 and cannot be modified until GC 2024. Even then, it is unclear what our policies will allow. The diversity of theological perspectives remains a thriving aspect of our life together as United Methodists.
 

Is the United Methodist Church going to change the Bible? 

No. The United Methodist Church has no official translation of the Bible and has never sought to alter the Bible at all. United Methodists have always had a variety of views about how to interpret specific passages of Scripture and likely always will.


 

Is the United Methodist Church going to require its clergy and clergy candidates to agree to offer same-sex weddings as a condition of candidacy, status, or appointment?

No. The United Methodist Church does not currently require its clergy or clergy candidates to perform weddings as a condition of candidacy, status, or appointment. Individual clergy always have and will continue to have the freedom to discern and determine who to marry in each local context. This will continue.
 

Is the United Methodist Church ordaining drag queens and supporting worship of a “Queer God?”

No and no. Both of these allegations are based on things that actually happened. But both of those things have been seriously misrepresented. For more on the misrepresentation of this matter, please head to UMC.org’s “Is the UMC Really…” page, located here. No United Methodist bishop has ever ordained, commissioned, or licensed a drag queen.
 

Is the United Methodist Church about to alter its doctrine to deny the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or salvation through Christ alone?

No. All of these positions are bedrock in the doctrinal standards of The United Methodist Church, more specifically in the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith. These cannot be altered without a two-thirds vote of the General Conference followed by a three-fourths aggregate approval of all annual conferences of The United Methodist Church worldwide. There is no basis to conclude such majorities can be achieved to alter the Articles and Confession for any reason.


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