Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation
An important decision was made in May that impacts the United Methodist Church.
May 19, 2022
Grace and peace to you! We continue to focus on our mission at Ocean View UMC, to ‘Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This focus remains our sure and steadfast lodestar as we sail the choppy waters of denominational angst and change.
This update is about an important decision made last week which impacts the United Methodist Church regarding possible separation. The Judicial Council (our version of the Supreme Court) has responded to a request from our Council of Bishops (all the bishops of our world-wide church) to give a Declaratory Decision on several questions, all revolving around the central question—may an Annual Conference disaffiliate (leave) the denomination in the United States under the Book of Discipline?
The Judicial Council’s decision was a clear and unequivocal ‘No’. “There is no basis in Church law for any annual conference to adopt stopgap policies, pass resolutions, take a vote, or act unilaterally for the purpose of removing itself from The United Methodist Church. Absent General Conference legislation, any vote and actions taken by an annual conference to separate are unconstitutional, null and void, and of no legal force or effect. “
Here is a link for a full reading of both the Judicial Council’s Digest and the full Decision 1444:
Decision 1444 does not affect a local church’s ability to disaffiliate. A local church may disaffiliate, or leave, under the UMC under Paragraph 2553 of the Discipline. This additional legislation became effective at the close of the 2019 General Conference for disaffiliation over issues related to human sexuality.
Many have been awaiting 2020 General Conference (GC) to adopt the more gracious exit approach proposed by the Protocol of Reconciliation Through Separation. With the continued pandemic-related delays in the meeting of GC now set for 2024, the Global Methodist Church (GMC, the new Traditional Methodist denomination) formed on May 1st this year to move ahead in their process of separation. The GMC will hold its own General Conference at some future date. This new denomination’s development will impact what happens with separation and the Protocol proposal. Just how remains to be seen.
Our own North Carolina Annual Conference Session (AC) will be held in person on June 15-18, 2022 in Greenville, N.C. Both your pastors, and your two lay representatives, Donna Fullwood and Jill Smith, will attend. A summary report for OVUMC will be offered soon afterwards.
“What does this mean for us? The North Carolina Annual Conference will remain in the UMC. The default for all local churches is also to remain a part of the UMC unless a church specifically requests to exit. This means Ocean View UMC will remain part of the UMC unless this church specifically requests to leave. Clarity about the next steps for a local church if it seeks disaffiliation should be determined next month at AC. While the GMC has been officially launched, it is still not yet an entity to which a church can be moved. Our Bishop has called a Special Called AC Session for purposes of granting departure per a local church’s request. It is slated to take place sometime this Fall at a date/time to be set. So, after our Annual Conference session is held in June, congregations will know better what steps to take IF any are needed. We will keep you posted.”
In the meantime, beloved, let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Let us not grow anxious or weary in well-doing–and in doing well–the mission and ministry of Ocean View UMC! God continues to be with us and blesses this church to be vital and fruitful. Whatever happens, the One we love and serve is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. We will continue to be His church!