Disaffiliation Information

FAQ Topics for Disaffiliation

Explanation and Reasons for Recommending Disaffiliation
As of September 30, 2022
 

Why did the Bellview Church Council vote to enter the disaffiliation discernment process?

John Wesley issued the cautionary warning: “In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church.” The United Methodist Church is irreconcilably divided over many significant issues of interpretation of Scripture and doctrine. Among the churches within the UMC, there is a wide variety of opinions as to the authority of, approach to, and application of Scripture. Too many look to the culture as the source of authority and not God’s Word. This leads the UMC to a theological impasse. On paper, the UMC professes the historic Christian beliefs. But in practice, many UMC leaders espouse conflicting theological and doctrinal beliefs, even beliefs that directly contradict the basics of the Christian faith.
The UMC is also at an institutional impasse. UMC leaders are inconsistent in their approach to holding ministers and laity accountable to the UMC Book of Discipline. Some provisions are enforced; other provisions are violated without consequence. Although we can’t predict the future for certain, the divisions within the UMC will likely grow wider at the 2024 General Conference. As more traditionalist churches and clergy exit the UMC, the remaining church clergy and delegates to General Conference may move even further away from traditional, orthodox beliefs. These differences have led us to recommend that Bellview prayerfully enter the discernment process regarding disaffiliation.
This decision isn’t based solely on the issue of sexuality, as some voices would have you believe. The reasons supporting disaffiliation are far more complex than a simple disagreement over one issue. The issue of sexuality is a symptom rather than the cause. The divide within the UMC stems from broader and historically rooted differences in interpretation of Scripture that have been brewing since 1972.


How do traditional and progressive members differ in theology and their approach to interpreting scripture?

The UMC embraces different viewpoints on theological convictions, Biblical foundations, and views on human sexuality. Here is a compilation of a very helpful side-by-side comparison to help understand the differences between traditional theology and the progressive perspectives.
 

If Bellview disaffiliates from the UMC, will that mean Bellview does not welcome LGBTQ+ people?

We want to reassure everyone that we are absolutely committed to welcoming ALL people into our Bellview church family. We believe all people are sacred and worthy of God’s grace and mercy. All people are welcome and encouraged to attend worship services, participate in our programs, be baptized, receive communion, and become members here at Bellview. This has always been and will continue to be a very important value for Bellview as we move forward, as we love God and love our neighbor.
 

Can women serve as clergy in the Global Methodist Church?

Yes. Women, like men, are called to serve in the Global Methodist Church and are entitled to serve at all levels of the Global Methodist Church. The Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council, which has been leading in the formation of the new denomination, is made up of both men and women. In fact, the current GMC chair of the transitional leadership team is a woman: Rev. Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory (former UMC pastor in Texas).
 

Will the UMC continue to appoint pastors that are a “good fit” theologically?

Our conference informational videos have stated that the UMC will take into consideration the local SPRC recommendations for local pastoral appointments to ensure appointments are a “good fit” for the local congregation. However, there is no guarantee about the number of traditional, orthodox pastors that would be available in the future of the UMC. Many traditional pastors are separating from the UMC and envision a future in the Global Methodist Church. In addition, the future clergy that are graduating from United Methodist seminaries are shifting to a more progressive worldview, leaving less traditional clergy to fill pulpits.
 

Process for Disaffiliation in UMC Book of Discipline

What are the requirements under Paragraph 2553 to disaffiliate?

Our first step was for the Church Council to vote to invite our District Superintendent to come and address this issue in a Town Hall. Our town hall was held on October 10, 2022. That started our discernment process.
Bellview’s church council voted, after a time of prayerful discernment to seek disaffiliation, to ask for a date for a special called church conference. Our special called church conference will be held on January 23rd, at 6 pm. At that time, the full members of Bellview UMC who are present at the called church conference must vote by a two-thirds majority to approve disaffiliation.
Disaffiliating churches must pay any unpaid apportionments for the twelve months prior (of which we do not owe anything) to the effective date of disaffiliation PLUS an additional equal amount representing twelve months of future apportionments.
Disaffiliating churches must also pay their share of unfunded pension liabilities and post-retirement medical benefits as determined by the Conference treasurer. The combination of these costs are expected to be less than ten percent of the value of Bellview’s property and other assets.
 

Is paragraph 2553 the only option for disaffiliation?

It is the only avenue that the UMC will allow a church to use to depart from the UMC and retain its property and assets. Paragraph 2548.2 provided an alternate option, but the Judicial Council of the UMC ruled on August 23, 2022 that churches seeking to disaffiliate from the UMC and seeking to join the Global Methodist Church may not separate from the UMC under paragraph 2548.2.
 

Who can vote at the Church Conference?

• Those who are members of Bellview United Methodist Church are eligible to vote.
• Those who are physically in attendance at the called Church Conference will be able to vote
   (there will be no voting by proxy).
• The decision to disaffiliate must be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the professing
   members of the local church present at the church conference.
• All these above are requirements as directed by our Book of Discipline.
 

How will the vote be conducted?

When arriving at the Church Conference, each person’s identification will be checked and compared to our membership roll. Members will then be given a paper ballot to be used for the vote. Our District Superintendent will lead the Church Conference, share some opening thoughts, make sure we are clear on what we are voting on, and then lead us in our vote. The District Superintendent will lead only the voting on disaffiliation.
 

Financial & Costs Associated with Disaffiliation

Is Bellview withholding Apportionments?

It is our understanding that some churches who are likely to disaffiliate from the UMC are choosing to withhold their apportionments. To be clear, Bellview is NOT withholding our apportionments. We believe that paying our bills is the right thing to do. We will pay 100% of our 2022 apportionments and will continue to pay our apportionments through the disaffiliation process.
 

Can you clarify the costs of disaffiliation under paragraph 2553?

Should the members of Bellview vote to disaffiliate under paragraph 2553, Bellview will pay twelve months of apportionments plus its share of the unfunded pension liabilities and medical benefits determined by the conference treasurer. To date, these costs include the following:
 
● The current year and future year’s apportionments, which is approximately $23,470.
● Unfunded Pension Obligation, which is currently $33,998, but subject to change after 1/1/2023.
● Post-Retirement Medical Benefits, currently $23,470.
● Other charges considered by the Conference Board of Trustees, such as the repayment of any loans and grants given in the last three years (Bellview currently has $0.)
 
If Bellview were to exit today, the cost would be $97,208. At the time of disaffiliation, the disaffiliation costs would be due. The combination of these costs originally totaled slightly less than ten percent of the value of Bellview’s property and other assets. We now expect that these costs will be less than seven percent of the value of Bellview’s property. By the grace of God, Bellview will have the ability to pay these costs if the membership votes to disaffiliate. Furthermore, Bellview would pay these costs over time anyway should the congregation decide to stay in the UMC through apportionments, because it is our share of the liabilities.
 

What are the apportionment costs if Bellview decides to join the Global Methodist Church?

Should the members of Bellview vote to join the GMC, the annual apportionments will be significantly lower than if we chose to stay in the UMC, due to the church’s structure in the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Disciplines. Their goal is to make sure that apportionments are capped at 5%, leaving more dollars available in the local church for missional ministries.
 

Time Frame for Disaffiliation

Why do we need to vote now for disaffiliation?

Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline expires on December 31, 2023, but the disaffiliation process must be completed in time to submit the documents for approval during the last scheduled Annual Conference in 2023. Bishop Graves has called two special called conferences in 2023, one in May and one in November. We would have to have our process completed by one of those dates.
Each conference Bishop has been setting their own terms regarding disaffiliation. Although Bishop Graves has been reasonable and fair with the ¶2553 exit costs, when and if we receive a new bishop, he/she may not be as considerate and impose additional requirements for those who pursue leaving. Several bishops across the country have made the cost to disaffiliate very expensive and punitive. In some conferences, local churches are required to pay a percent of their appraised property in order to disaffiliate.
Many people believe the time is now for disaffiliation, because although the UMC leadership has encouraged everyone to wait until the General Conference 2024, the future exit ramp for local churches to disaffiliate is very uncertain after ¶2553 sundowns on December 31, 2023.
 

Can we wait for the General Conference in 2024?

Waiting until 2024 has several risks. First, ¶2553 expires in December 2023. The Judicial Council has ruled that disaffiliation may not be accomplished under paragraph 2548.2. In 2019, a plan was devised to allow for a peaceful separation for the conflicting divisions within the UMC – The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. The Protocol would have allowed for an inexpensive, graceful exit and was supposed to be put to a vote during the 2020 General conference. However, that conference was postponed until 2022, and then postponed again to 2024. Since then, many of the bishops and delegates who were the architects of the Protocol have withdrawn their support of the Protocol they devised, meaning its passage is highly unlikely at the 2024 General Conference. Lastly, as a growing number of traditional churches and clergy separate from the UMC, there will be fewer traditional delegates to the General Conference, resulting in fewer votes for a simpler, less expensive disaffiliation process.
 

What Next?

If Bellview votes to disaffiliate, what happens next?

If Bellview should vote to disaffiliate, our vote will be sent to the Conference Trustees for approval. With the Trustee’s terms, our vote would then be presented for approval at one of the two special called Conferences, either in May or November. But once approved at Annual Conference and upon payment of the disaffiliation fees, Bellview will be able to join another denomination. We would enter a time to research and learn about other Wesleyan denominations before our church would make a decision to join another denomination.

If Bellview votes to disaffiliate, what will happen with Bellview’s ministry?

Our church family will not notice any major changes. Our mission remains make disciples of Jesus Christ by teaching, sharing, and serving with love. The relationships we share, worship services, small groups, and our love for all people will remain just as they are now.
We will still follow our regular Wesleyan Methodist doctrine, theology, teaching, and liturgy. Bellview will be the same church (remember the church is the people) we have known and loved for years! And we can go back to spending more time on our missions and ministries.
Members may notice some minor “branding” changes such as removal of the word “United” in our name and the Cross and Flame insignia as the trademarked logo of the UMC. Bellview will own outright our property, which we currently hold in trust for the UMC.
 
We hope this clarifies some of the questions you may have had. If you need further answers, please call the office and set up a time to come meet with the pastor. She will be glad to answer any question honestly and to the best of her ability.