How is the worldwide Methodist Church affected by the shift. Will they stay United Methodist?
Outside the United States the United Methodist Church has seven Central Conferences. As it stands today, the polity of the UMC approved by the 2019 General Conference and subsequently affirmed by the Council of Bishops, states that Central Conferences cannot use Paragraph 2553 to disaffiliate. Any legislation passed by the 2019 General Conference would not become effective in the Central Conferences until 12 months after the close of the 2020 General Conference. The 2020 General Conference has since been postponed until 2024. This rule has kept Central Conferences from seeking disaffiliation. However, since 2020, a few Central Conferences in Europe and in the Philippines have started making plans to disaffiliate.
How shall we baptize and partake in Holy Communion in regions left without a UMC?
We have several options for providing the Sacraments to United Methodists left without a church home. Persons may receive Holy Communion while worshiping online with a United Methodist congregation (consecrated communion packets can be mailed to those participating) or within a home gathering using consecrated elements. Further, several active and retired clergy have expressed interest in traveling to provide the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism as needed.
I hear a lot about the church organization, but as I understand it, the church is an organism with Christ as the Head. Where in the presentation is this view of the church addressed? Where in the UMC response to disaffiliation issues is this addressed?
Christ is indeed the head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). This is true of congregations in other Christian denominations (Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc.), including those rooted in Wesleyan theology (Nazarene, Free Methodist, Global Methodist, etc.). The understanding that Jesus is head of the Church is foundational to our belief, and yet we also realize that earnest Christians of genuine faith may disagree on theological matters, as well as on our accepted practice of ministry. The Discernment Process and discussion of the subject of disaffiliation are meant to assist congregations in discerning how they may most effectively share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their communities.
What is the status of Sacramento Camp and Conference Center. Is it staying part of NM conference UMC?
At the present time, conversations are being held between Sacramento Camp Officials and New Mexico Conference Leadership around the issue of ownership/control of the camp. For the last few years, Sacramento Camp has been operating more independently from the New Mexico Conference, as much of its campers come from outside the Conference and beyond the UMC. While some questions regarding property ownership and control/relationship between the conference and the camp still need to be resolved before any claim of proprietorship can be made from either party, Sacramento Camp remains open to serve NMAC’s churches and people.The camp has also assured us that no matter how these questions and issues are resolved, they intend to be present at Annual Conference, to give updates and reports about camping ministries, and want to continue to serve the NMAC.
Can we consider linking existing UMC churches with new house churches to provide resources for them?
Yes, we have members of New Church Development and pastors within the New Mexico Conference who are ready to provide training and resources for leading house churches. Further, these house churches may choose to affiliate with a local congregation.
Is there any circumstance that would allow the Annual Conference to disapprove a disaffiliation?
There are a few circumstances that might prevent the Annual Conference from approving disaffiliation. One is that the disaffiliating congregation might not get all of their required documents and payments in by the deadline and therefore would not be included in the disaffiliation resolution. Another circumstance that has occurred in another conference is evidence brought to the floor of the annual conference indicating that the discernment and voting process in a few churches was held inappropriately or unfairly.
Can you clarify how regular folks can identify Methodist churches who are disaffiliating can be distinguished from those who are not? Will we be welcome in either one?
Churches that disaffiliate will no longer be able to use the UMC logo (cross and flame) and will no longer have the word “United” in their name. We hope that all people will be welcome in any expression of Methodism.
How will the Certified Lay Ministers be handled from a disaffiliated church?
To be certified as a lay minister, a person must be a member of a local UMC. CLM’s who belong to a church that disaffiliates must transfer their membership to another UMC or to the conference to be held temporarily. If a CLM chooses to retain membership in a church that has disaffiliated, they will no longer be eligible for certified lay ministry in The United Methodist Church.
Once a church enters into discernment, can that church decide not to continue with discernment before the 4–6 month period is over?
Yes, a local church may decide at any point to discontinue the process of discernment. Several churches in the NM Annual Conference who began the discernment process, made the decision not to move forward with the discernment process because they found that it was divisive.
Can churches rejoin the UMC? What is the process?
There is no established process for a church that has disaffiliated to rejoin the UMC at the present time.
Besides Carlsbad, what other communities are being left without a United Methodist Church? And, how can we lay people assist them?
Regions that will be left without a United Methodist presence are: Alamogordo, Amistad, Artesia, Balmorhea, Carlsbad, Carrizozo, Cimarron, Clayton, Crane, Elida, Grady, High Rolls, Fort Sumner, Hope, Logan, Melrose, Nara Visa, Lovington, Maxwell, Pecos, Ruidoso, Santa Rosa, Springer, and Tatum. Several congregations are still in the discernment process.
If a pastor did not want to disaffiliate but their congregation chose to…or if a pastor wanted to disaffiliate and the congregation didn’t what will happen to their appointments/what options are available to them?
This is what we call a “Cabinet question.”
In the first scenario, the name of the pastor would be immediately included in the Cabinet list under the rubric: “available for appointment.” In our case, a request from the Cabinet to the disaffiliating church will go out at the Special Session of our Annual Conference (May 20, 2023) asking the disaffiliating church to cover the salary of their current pastor until the end of the Conference year (June 31, 2023).
In the second scenario, after the Church Conference of that congregation votes not to disaffiliate, the District Superintendent will enter in consultation with the pastor to ask if the pastor will remain in The UMC. If so, further conversations about moving or staying in the same church may be part of the consultation. If the pastor does not want to remain in the UMC, instructions (https://www.nmconfum.com/clergy-pastor-withdrawal-support/) about withdrawing his/her membership from the UMC will be shared with the pastor.
If you have additional questions, please contact the Conference Secretary, Roselie Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.