On February 18, 2023, the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church chose to go out of its way to block New Town UMC from exercising its right to disaffiliate from the denomination, despite the facts that ninety-seven percent of the congregation voted to disaffiliate and that this congregation followed all of the rules and met all of the burdens demanded of them.
In this open letter, that congregation’s Pastor, Greg West, and the congregation’s leadership board chair, Eric Shuey, set the record straight about the misinformation used to justify how this congregation was punitively singled out, and how this congregation was treated both under the leadership of both Bishop Sharma Lewis (the Virginia Conference’s bishop until December 31, 2022) and Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson (who took over Virginia on January 1, after a controversial tenure in the UMC’s North Georgia Conference).
After this congregation had its property taken away and its pastor abruptly removed, the bulk of its members along with Pastor West began worshipping at a new location on Sunday. The worship attendance of this “new” congregation, called Church at New Town, was 151, which is 25 more people than they normally had when worshipping as New Town UMC. The congregation now can use the over $562,000 exit fee it was to have paid the Virginia Conference instead for building up its new church.
Methodist Voices (formerly UM Voices) is a forum for different voices within and adjacent to the United and Global Methodist Churches on pressing issues of denominational concern. Methodist Voices contributors represent only themselves and not IRD/UMAction.
An Open Letter to the United Methodist Church: New Town UMC, Virginia Conference
March 30, 2023
Brothers and Sisters in Christ within the United Methodist Church,
We are reaching out to tell a painful and difficult story that impacts the lives of hundreds of families. As you know, the United Methodist Church has been divided for many years. New Town UMC was planted twenty-three years ago by Pastor David Ford and from its beginning, the congregation has been unified in its Traditionalist view of the Scriptures.
Pastor Garry Livermon, an Elder in the UMC, was serving as the Pastor of New Town UMC in 2021, but health issues prevented him from continuing to serve. Greg West, an Elder in the UMC, who also served as an Evangelist in the Virginia Conference, was appointed as the part-time interim Pastor in January of 2022. We, as a congregation, looked with hope to the upcoming summer 2022 General Conference to pass the Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation through Separation. The congregation was united in the desire for an amicable separation within the UMC. This General Conference was postponed until 2024. New Town then pursued the disaffiliation process set up and offered by the Virginia Conference of the UMC, in order to separate from the UMC, per paragraph 2553 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
Out of courtesy and respect, the leadership of New Town UMC reached out to the family who had given the land for the church more than twenty years ago. There are three retired United Methodist Elders in this family. The land was a gift to the Virginia Conference of the UMC. There was no ‘revert to donor’ or ‘reverter’ clause or any other provision in the deed which restricted the use of the property. We wanted to communicate clearly with this family our reasons for pursuing disaffiliation, to prevent any misunderstanding. They strongly opposed the idea of New Town UMC disaffiliating, and two more meetings followed.
New Town UMC was fully prepared to participate in the October 29, 2022 Disaffiliation Conference and followed the steps outlined by the Virginia Annual Conference. Less than a week before our congregational meeting to vote on disaffiliation, the Virginia Conference required that we change the date. We were told that the reason for this change was that we did not use the statement from the Conference Attorney in our announcements. This was the first time that we had heard about this statement and requirement. We objected, but to no avail. On the new date the vote was taken and ninety-four percent of the congregation voted in favor of disaffiliation from the UMC. However, in our rushed effort to send out two required notifications of the changed date of the vote, we missed one of the deadlines by twelve hours. For this, the Conference ruled that we were not eligible to participate in the Disaffiliation Conference in October. Of course we felt wronged and objected, but we had no recourse.
So we again proceeded in good faith for the February 18, 2023 Disaffiliation Conference. Our second congregational vote was ninety-seven percent in favor of disaffiliation from the UMC. We knew that the family who had given the land to the Conference was campaigning for clergy and laity to speak and vote against us. We were told that they were sharing a letter of their talking points around the Conference. We were not able to obtain copies of the two documents until after the Disaffiliation Conference. The documents were entitled “New Town UMC Disaffiliation FAQ” and “Essential Disaffiliation Info – New Town UMC’s Unique Situation Deserves Extra Attention.” We believe these documents are inaccurate in their explanations of New Town UMC’s status and pursuit of disaffiliation as well as of the requirements contained in paragraph 2553. There was a non-disclosure agreement in the disaffiliation agreement that the Trustees of New Town UMC signed. So we did not feel free to respond to the family’s campaign against our disaffiliation with information for the delegates supporting our side of the issue.
The online Disaffiliation Conference took place on February 18, 2023 with Bishop Haupert-Johnson presiding; [See the VAUMC Youtube site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY3MbNKKQsk] There were thirty-four churches in the Virginia Conference seeking to disaffiliate from the UMC. The first
motion of the Conference was to completely stop the disaffiliation process in the Virginia Conference because of ‘misinformation’. Pastor Greg West spoke against this motion, stating that the answer to misinformation was the communication of clear, concise and truthful information; and that the people of the Virginia Conference were intelligent and could sort through what is true and false. The motion to stop all church disaffiliations was overwhelmingly defeated. The next motion was to separate New Town UMC from the other thirty-three churches that were seeking to disaffiliate. The argument was made that the land was given by a family with the idea that it would always remain in the UMC. We argued that this motion was out of order, because the Virginia Conference Attorney, Andrew White, stated clearly from the United Methodist Book of Discipline during the October 29, 2022 Disaffiliation Conference that “Paragraph 2553 does not include any inquiry into the value of the property, the source of the property- where the property came from.” [See the VAUMC Vimeo site: https://vimeo.com/764310878 – Forward to 2:42.45]
In addition, the Conference’s own “Disaffiliation Report Guide” (https://doc.vaumc.org/AC2023/Feb2023DisaffiliationReportingGuideFINAL.pdf FAQ #14) for the February Disaffiliation Conference states that “certain property rights are outside the scope of the disaffiliation process.” The guidance states that even if a family had any special claim or reverter clause on the property (they didn’t), the Conference delegates were instructed to ignore them for the purposes of disaffiliation under paragraph 2553. This guidance was ignored by the Conference, even when Greg West specifically asked the Conference Attorney to clarify the issues at stake.
The Bishop dismissed our claim that the motion was out of order and allowed arguments to be made that New Town UMC was different because of the gift of the land and the intentions of that gift. The Conference vote on separating New Town UMC from the other thirty-three churches was split fifty – fifty on the screen. The Bishop reported the actual numbers to be within seven votes, allowing New Town UMC to be separated from the others. The other thirty-three churches were voted on as a group and within minutes they were all allowed to disaffiliate.
The speeches for and against New Town UMC’s disaffiliation were then heard. Many of the arguments against New Town’s disaffiliation were about the financial value and missional value of the land in addition to the intentions of the family that donated the land. We declared to the Conference that what was happening was unjust. Tom Hassler, the lay delegate for New Town UMC tried to speak at this time, but was not called on. Pastor Greg West made arguments against favoritism including the fact that his family had given land for a Methodist Church in the 1800s; and it would be preposterous for his family to have a say in that church’s current affairs. He pleaded with the Conference not to ‘scatter the sheep’, again, to no avail. After a final speech by a member of the family who gave the land, and who is also a retired Elder, the discussion was closed and New Town UMC’s disaffiliation was denied in the vote that followed.
We believe that the Conference did not follow its own clearly stated rules. The Bishop and the Conference Attorney allowed the Conference to believe that they can and should take into account the land, the monetary value of the land, the missional value of the land, as well as the donors of the land as they were considering their votes.
What is the recourse for New Town UMC? We have been told there is no appeal and no opportunity for another chance at a future Disaffiliation Conference, and also no apparent route to the Judicial Council to get a ruling.
On March 7, 2023, Pastor Greg West met with the Bishop at her request just sixteen days after the Disaffiliation Conference. Despite being told that this meeting was only a consultation and there was no need to bring anyone, Fred Rojek from the Leadership Board accompanied Greg West. With the Bishop were her assistant Steve Summers and the District Superintendent Charles Ledlum-Bates. The Bishop communicated that Greg West was immediately being removed as the Pastor of New Town UMC and that he had two options: 1) to leave the church building with the congregation or 2) to take another appointment with a church that is going through the disaffiliation process. The reason given for the removal was ‘disloyalty to the UMC.’ Greg West rejected this claim arguing that he is and has been loyal to the UMC during his twenty-four years of service. The evidence presented of disloyalty was that Greg West stated that the process of disaffiliation for New Town UMC was unjust, thus undermining the will and the work of the Conference.
Fred Rojek and Greg West appealed to the Bishop to leave the Pastoral appointment in place until the end of June, the normal time to move Pastors. The Bishop then directed that Greg West would be allowed two weeks until removal and stated that the new Pastor had already been appointed. The process of consultation with the Staff Parish Relations Committee and Pastor that the UMC Book of Discipline requires was bypassed.
Two days after meeting with the Bishop, Greg West received an email with an attached letter from the chair of the Board of Discipleship of the Virginia Conference, with the following statement:
“After reaching out to your District Superintendent we received a response from the Cabinet notifying us that the Cabinet decided not to write an endorsement to recommend you as the Virginia Conference General Evangelist. Based on their response and our own Board’s uneasiness; we will not be recertifying you as Virginia’s Conference Evangelist.”
Once again, there was no consultation with Greg West or the Board of Life in His Name Ministries, though he had served in the Virginia Conference as an Evangelist for thirteen years.
New Town UMC has been a missional church that is passionate about making disciples of Jesus Christ in Williamsburg, VA for twenty-three years. In its short history it has witnessed one hundred and seventy-two professions of faith. It has sent out six Pastors into ministry in the Virginia Conference. Numerous missionaries and missions are supported by New Town UMC as it gives ten percent of its offerings to missions. All of these ministries have been disrupted.
The issues at hand are 1) The fairness and integrity of a process put forward by the Virginia Conference of the UMC. 2) The unfair removal of an Elder in good standing serving as both Pastor and Evangelist disregarding required procedure. The disaffiliation process was followed for forty-three churches (ten in October 2022 and thirty-three in February 2023), but disregarded for one church. The leadership and people of New Town UMC pursued disaffiliation in good faith and now are experiencing the pain and repercussions of what we believe is clearly unfair treatment. We have great concern that other congregations and Pastors seeking disaffiliation in the Virginia Conference and beyond will be treated in the same way. Will the new standard in the Virginia Conference be removal from appointments and extension ministries with no consultation? Our General Rules state: “Do no harm.” Harm has been done. We appeal to the Virginia Conference and to the UMC to correct these wrongs and prevent further harm.
The majority of the New Town congregation walked away from the UMC and the church building last Sunday. In our last act of worship in New Town UMC on March 19, 2023, we blessed the sanctuary, we blessed all who will gather in it in the future and we blessed the UMC. The United Methodist Church and the churches and Pastors that seek disaffiliation are still called to be witnesses of the grace and truth of Jesus Christ to the watching world. United Methodist Churches and Global Methodist Churches, though they have profound disagreements, will be in the same towns and cities. We all must model the reconciliation that Christ died to make possible.
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Rev. Greg West & Eric Shuey, Chair of the Leadership Board
Comment by MJ on March 31, 2023 at 8:39 am
Seems to me that the Church at New Town made the smart choice. Take the half million and start over. Get as far away from the UMC mess as possible.
Comment by George on March 31, 2023 at 11:13 am
Imagine if you will, that all of the 50 United States governors were selected (not elected) and served in those positions till they reached the age of seventy. Occasionally they would be moved around to other states without those states having a say in the matter.
It wouldn’t take long before you would see the same heavy handed governing that we see going on within the UMC. Lifetime appointments is not a good business model. Just look at SCOTUS. Was there ever a time when politics didn’t dictate the majority opinion?
And just think, the UMC was able to achieve this without George Soros money.
Comment by David on March 31, 2023 at 2:30 pm
The objections regarding New Town’s inability to lay claim to someone else’s property are troubling. Disaffiliation is not a matter of right. When you sign on to be a Methodist, you know full well that the property belongs to the conference. If you don’t want to be a Methodist, that is your right, but taking the property of another is NOT. It is particularly saddening that traditionalists want out on the basis of something that HAS NOT happened. The “offending bishop” remains suspended to this day and her case is still pending. Just how committed to the rule of law and connection all ministries are we?
Comment by Joel on March 31, 2023 at 3:28 pm
RE: “The congregation now can use the over $562,000 exit fee it was to have paid the Virginia Conference instead for building up its new church.”
The New Town UMC Leadership Board has returned all donations designated for the disaffiliation fee to the original donors.
Comment by Judy on March 31, 2023 at 3:37 pm
If you are a United Methodist Elder who took an oath to the United Methodist Church, why in the world would you expect to stay a United Methodist Minister when you want to break away from the United Methodist Church?
Comment by Anthony on March 31, 2023 at 4:14 pm
Dear Virginia Annual Conference,,
From the North Georgia Conference — Haupert-Johnson will do you irreparable harm.
NORTH GEORGIA CONFERENCE MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS AND THE ARRIVAL OF BISHOP SUE HAUPERT-JOHNSON IN 2016
End of 2000 308,489 Members
End of 2015 361,907 Members
End of 2021 331,432 Members
From the end of 2000 through the end 2015 — the conference had grown by 53,418 members, or an average of 3,339 members per year.
Since the arrival of Bishop Haupert-Johnson in 2016 and through 2021 — the conference has lost 30,475 members, or an average of 5,079 per year.
In these 6 years through 2021, 42.95% of the member gains of the previous 16 years have been lost. In just the last reporting year of 2021 prior to church disaffiliations, the conference had lost 7,827 members in that single year.
Comment by Reynolds on March 31, 2023 at 5:37 pm
The goal of liberal theology is to destroy Christianity. Once you understand this, you quit trying to negotiate. This is the problem with the WCA. They believe they can negotiate with their killers. It will not happen. Get a lawyer and fight in the courts over the property. If you win great if you lose walk away. At the very least you made them pay something for walking away.
Comment by Leland Bryant Ross on March 31, 2023 at 5:48 pm
I’m not a biblical traditionalist in the sense I take New Town to mean it — I’m a Baptist who has no objection to the ordination of atypically gendered or oriented people (or of straight binary women, for that matter). And I haven’t seen a rebuttal of the above letter to the UMC. But I must say that if the UMC rulebook contains the guidance quoted in the letter, it sure sounds to me like the VA UMC was in the wrong here. I’ll read such a rebuttal with interest.
Comment by Laurie McLean on March 31, 2023 at 8:02 pm
This sounds like a theological disagreement. Those need to be resolved by whatever process the denomination has in place. If the local church does not want to participate in that process, then it can disaffiliate, according to it’s bylaws, and support itself.
Pretty simple. Take part in the process, or go it on your own.
It’s a conflict going on in all organized religions. Nothing new.
Comment by John Lomperis on March 31, 2023 at 11:28 pm
Remember, the fact is of the matter is that Paragraph 2553 of the Discipline gives congregations the *right* to disaffiliate and continue int the property for which they have paid to care and maintain over the years. And the fact is also that New Town UMC met all of these requirements of Paragraph 2553, including raising money for rather unfairly high exit price – which many are calling “ransom fees.”
By definition, when you give someone a gift, it is truly a gift and there is genuine generosity, it is no longer “your property.” Imagine that someone gave you what they claimed was a gift, the transaction was accepted and appreciated by all, and then after many years, some members of this donor’s family suddenly demand that that gift be rudely taken away from you, because of some greedy or spiteful agenda.
Comment by George on April 1, 2023 at 7:52 am
The New Town church is located in a very nice up scale commercial area. It’s a very beautiful church if anyone cares to google and see it. I’m sure the land and building are worth in the millions of dollars. Let’s see now, those members who gave their money to build this church would like to keep it even if they must pay a ransom for it. Those (unnamed) folks who originally donated the land got a nice inflated tax deduction along with letting everyone know what great generous people they are. The bishop sees a whole lot of $$$ sitting there that She wants for her use. So, let’s be honest. It’s about MONEY.
The bishop knows that those who built this church with their tithes and offerings will not be mailing her an apportionment check anymore so she wants what she can get now.
Where is King Solomon when you need him?
Comment by Danny Thomas on April 1, 2023 at 8:10 am
It appears to be more simple to leave and start a new church? Why don’t those who want to disaffiliate just leave and start a new congregation? Leave the UMC alone. Seems evil and just mean to try and shut down a church because you don’t agree with what is being said. How does the love of Christ work here? Love one another???
Wesley said “harm no one”.
I hope you all are at peace.
Comment by George on April 1, 2023 at 9:05 am
This all has the taint of Satan as the disaffected congregation seeks to right the barq of Peter, as they perceive it, in the deluge of false and noxious doctrine/ moral theology.
Comment by Jim on April 1, 2023 at 10:11 am
The UMC has become a real estate holding company. Like the dying, lost, unrepentant Episcopalians and Presbyterians, its leaders will liquidate the assets seized from the faithful in order to maintain the standards of living, power and privilege to which they have become accustomed. I saw this years ago as our bishop bled a once vibrant large church dry. Cynically and strategically Claremont products with twisted, bankrupt beliefs were appointed over what had been a strong conservative congregation. As those congregants left, no action was taken to reverse the slide and emptying of a huge building. From 600 in worship to hoping for 60, with only a few dozen attending regularly. Progressive meant progressively accelerating decline and empty sermons to match the empty pews. You will see more bishops seizing grand old buildings and attractive properties for “conference centers” and commercial ventures.
Jesus showed us that the temple of God is not a building or metes and bounds of real estate.
Comment by Dan W on April 1, 2023 at 10:29 am
Methodists are encouraged to practice sacrificial giving. A retired teacher once told me, she and her husband were asked to pledge in a campaign to build a new church building. They didn’t have a lot of money, but did go out to dinner and a movie each week (1960s.) They skipped their weekly date for 1 year to donate for the new building. She said they were really blessed by the experience! That building was a blessing then, and is still a blessing, as the North American Headquarters for GBGM.
Bishop Sue may feel like she is winning the battle, but will lose the war. How will the un-grace being shown to traditional congregations affect sacrificial giving in the UMC? How many young school teachers will give up date night for a year to pledge in the VA Annual Conference (or the NGA Annual Conference?)
I have learned through experience, when you give to the church you have to let it go. When you sacrifice, when you are generous, The Lord sees it and you are blessed. Our fellow Christians don’t always see/understand our sacrifices. Don’t let that prevent you from blessing others, and being blessed.
Comment by Steve Burich on April 1, 2023 at 2:07 pm
I have only two statements:
– Where is UMC’s grace in this process. I see everything but grace. What a see is a punitive attitude from the Bishop and Council, violating their own rules to achieve their desire.
– Money. It’s the elephant in the room. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matt 6:21
Comment by FreiPL on April 1, 2023 at 4:21 pm
The Bible commands believers not to take each other to court. Apparently fighting over the right to discriminate against non-binary people is worth disobeying the teachings contained within its pages. Have they decided 1 Corinthians 6 no longer applies to them?
Comment by The Rev. Dr. Lee Cary (retired UMC clergy) on April 1, 2023 at 4:26 pm
Church is not a building.
This Methodist saga is America’s Woke ordeal playing out in a religious venue.
MJ’s comment at the top of the list above is excellent advice.
Comment by Jeanne Pickrel on April 1, 2023 at 8:44 pm
It is sad to see a great denomination split. It is hard to understand how UMC got high jacked by the liberals in the leadership. They went against the teachings of the Bible, disregarded the Book of Discipline took over our property, and disrupted ministry. We, as a nation need to God to trust in. Churches should setting a good example. UMC has become a disgrace.
Comment by George on April 1, 2023 at 9:08 pm
Rev. Cary, I looked back at what MJ said about taking the half million, be happy and move on. Look at that church BUILDING and tell me that a half million seems fare. As a Methodist preacher, I’m sure you did a few stewardship drives. Oversaw the building or renovation of some church BUILDINGS. These church BUILDINGS can mean a lot to the churches that use them. These church BUILDINGS were where the church family met every Sunday. These church BUILDINGS were where the funerals of loved ones were held.
Where they were married. Where their children were baptized. Yes, these church BUILDINGS are not the church. I think we all know the difference between the church and the the BUILDING where the church gathers. So, if preaching from the pulpit about stewardship is important, then I think trying to hold onto what those stewardship campaigns built is important too. My heart goes out to the 97% up in New Town. I hope they fight the good fight.
Comment by Eric on April 1, 2023 at 11:54 pm
2553 specifically states that you can take the property with you. It is in the Book of Discipline. Read in the letter it specifically proves this with the conference lawyers statements and the conferences own document as well as the wording in 2553. Should this not have been the rule then don’t you think members would have just walked away initially.
Also, this is not about one person not adhering to the BOD. It is a rampant. All you need to do is a google search and see.
It is sad that the Bishop removed a pastor without any consulting with the church or any time to let the church make some decisions to move out slowly to protect their ministries. New Town cares for many poor and needy in the local community and supports many many missions and missionaries. They have a preschool with 118 children. Why the rush to pull the pastor and kick out the members. There is so much more to this story. It is my understanding that the The Bishop did say the congregation was no longer UMC and to get out, maybe not those exact words but she did make this statement. If a piece of land is that important to you at least don’t do harm to the ministry, work with the congregation to protect the work and missions they are doing and give them some time to process what just happened and to be loving about it. The whole thing is baffling how the UMC administration treated New Town. Be adults about it and talk with them. During this process the Bishops and DS referred all comments and questions to the conference lawyers. New Town was not permitted to meet or talk to the conference trustees, let alone put out press statements.
Great statement George
Comment by Cory on April 2, 2023 at 12:26 am
I would just like to add a prayer of blessing and preservation for the pastoral families on both side of the New Town church divide. As a member of a UMC pastoral family this is hard to go through for the pastor being removed and the new pastor being appointed. I don’t know if they have spouses or children, but it is extremely difficult to be appointed to a church that has just gone through a great divide. My heart goes out to them and their families. Great stress and great adjustment is on its way for them both. God preserve these families and cover them with your protection. Amen
Comment by Bobbie Rhoads on April 2, 2023 at 1:00 am
PRAYING FOR UMC MEMBERS EVERYWHERE. I’VE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A MESS.
IT’S GOING ON WITH ALL UMC IN CHURCHES, EVEN IN MY SMALL TOWN OF SHELBYVILLE KY.
AND BEING HELD UP FOR RANSOM! THE BISHOP AND CONFERENCE DON’T GIVE THESE HARD WORKING PARISHIONERS, NOR THE BUILDINGS ONE DIME!
SO HOW DO YOU OWN AND RUN ANYTHING. YOU HAVEN’T PUT ONE PENNY ON. FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR OWN SELFISH VIEWS AND IMMORALITY?
Comment by T.S. on April 2, 2023 at 8:27 am
Why can’t this be seen as a good thing? The congregation, which does not want to be associated with the UMC, is now worshiping at a smaller location (less overhead). Usually, there were around 125 worshipers at New Town UMC, which seems like a small congregation for a 17,000-square-foot building with an assessed value of almost $4 million. Why would a congregation so small choose to spend so much of the church’s funds on a BUILDING?
Over the years has the congregation grown or gotten smaller? If it’s gotten smaller, why did the church feel it needed such a large building? What steps were made to grow the congregation?
I see no reason why the new church can’t continue to be a missional church. The offerings should increase as more people are attending service at the new location. I pray the new church has MORE money for ministries since it’s no longer paying for the old building. I mean, if 125 people can pay for a $4 million dollar building, certainly 151 people can pay to rent a space for less money and continue the ministries, right?
Additionally, pastor, you did not want to be part of the UMC. You are now free to be a Wesleyan Methodist minister. How is this a bad thing?
Remember, it’s all about GOD….May He be with you all.
Comment by Gary Bebop on April 2, 2023 at 12:39 pm
The agonies described are the “wages of sin,” the accrued consequences of Methodism’s long trail of moral divagation and apostasy. The road out is the narrow road of repentance. If that road is not taken, the woes will increase. Believe me, this is axiomatic for institutions as it is for individuals.
Comment by George on April 3, 2023 at 2:14 pm
I guess those folks must have been doing something wrong to afford such a nice big church BUILDING. There were only 125 of those folks so why not kick them down the road to a vacant strip mall. They should Be tickled to death because of the money they will save. Those dummies just don’t know what’s best for them. You’re really on to something here. In all seriousness, it’s always the liberals that love to take what they did not build or pay for and give it to those they feel are more worthy. You and those like you sicken me.
The communist did the exact same thing for the good of everyone. I wish I could tell you what I really think of your post but they couldn’t print it.
Comment by Robert Kellner on April 3, 2023 at 4:27 pm
Knock the dust off your feet, don’t look back, money and property can always be replaced, and move on and be about the Lord’s business. The mains – Presbyterian, Episcopal etc – shelf life is ending soon fading into the sunset. Their business now has no relevance or connections with the Son.
Comment by JoeR on April 3, 2023 at 4:44 pm
Way to go Bishop Sue. You mess up the North Georgia Conference then leave 2 days later now you are sprinkling you liberal alphabet soup dust farther north.
Comment by Michael Murphy on April 3, 2023 at 4:50 pm
This is clearly all about money, and it has nothing to do with what God is doing, or the Holy Spirit.
If the UNC wants to liberalize, rejecting, hundreds of years of precedent, and thousands of years of scriptural authority, let them do so. Just walk away.
We should be about doing what we are commanded to do in the great commission. Anything else that gets in the way of that should be cast aside. And it sounds to me like the UMC is more concerned about money and property than it is about advancing the gospel of Christ.
Shake the dust off your feet, and do not look back.
Comment by David Gingrich on April 4, 2023 at 6:42 am
Concentrated power made the UMC corrupt. I pray the Global Methodist Church is wiser.
Comment by ellekaye on April 4, 2023 at 9:19 pm
The ratification of disaffiliation by the annual conference IS a required component of the allowance to disaffiliate, as determined by the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church, which is the church’s court and disciplinary interpretation body. Annual Conferences are not under obligation to ratify based on the completion of requirements, because its authority is limited to saying yes or no, but its yes IS required.
“In 2019, the Judicial Council upheld Paragraph 2553 as in line with the denomination’s constitution. In that ruling, the church court also spelled out that any disaffiliation must include:
Approval for disaffiliation by at least a two-thirds majority of a church’s professing members present at the vote.
Establishment of terms and conditions between the exiting local church and the conference board of trustees.
Ratification of a church’s disaffiliation by a simple majority at annual conference.”
“The church court notes that under the Discipline, a local church “cannot sever its connectional relationship to The United Methodist Church without the consent of the annual conference.” The Judicial Council has construed this provision to mean that the annual conference must ratify any disaffiliation agreement”
While all elements of whether or not this is fair, just, ethical, or right are up for debate, the details above are the fact and rule of law within the church denomination, so those particular items should not be in question. Should the AC be the body to ratify? Debatable. Is the AC required to ratify? Yes. Not debatable under the current provisions of paragraph 2553.
Comment by John Smith on April 5, 2023 at 7:21 am
Given the UMC’s attitude and claim to property I don’t know why more churches don’t walk away from the building and leave the conference with the mortgage instead of paying off the extortioners.
Comment by George on April 5, 2023 at 3:46 pm
There are plenty of churches that have no mortgage. They own them. For those who say, just walk away and give your church to the UMC , I say if you come home after being away and find squatters in your home, would you just walk away? Of course you would not. I’m starting to think those who believe this way must be staunch UMC activists.
Comment by Anthony on April 5, 2023 at 7:13 pm
It is most unfortunate that traditional Methodists in Virginia now have Bishop Haupert-Johnson — a tyrant, a lawyer, and a real estate agent.
In her six years in the North GA Conference, membership declined by over 30,000, by over 40,000 when adding in Mt Bethel Church. North GA was the only American conference growing prior to her arrival. In addition to this and wearing her her lawyer hat, she sued Mt Bethel UMC, the largest church in the conference, after unsuccessfully attempting to arbitrarily remove its pastor. — eventually having to settle with that church after it counter sued, but still extorting $13.1 million from them instead of getting the grand prize by seizing that property appraised at $35 million — which that church kept along with its pastor in the settlement as it departed the conference.
In addition, in her real estate capacity, she closed over 60 churches and raised over $26 million from those sales – bringing the conference reserves up to over $100 million prior to her departure. And, finally acting in her role as tyrant, she stopped the disaffiliation process two days before her departure for Virginia.
Virginia traditional Methodists — WATCH YOUR BACK.