How did we get here?

The United Methodist Church has never been truly united. For about 50 years, church leaders have been distracted, divided and in disagreement regarding Christology (who Jesus is), Biblical authority and interpretation, sexual ethics, and the definition of marriage. The denomination has suffered from a lack of accountability and enforcement where practices deviated from church doctrine as outlined in the Book of Discipline.

Today there is widespread agreement that separation is the best and final way to resolve the deep divisions. By parting ways, progressive and traditional Methodists will be free to continue in ministry without the lingering burden of these matters.

The continuing United Methodist Church, or as some call it, the post-separation UMC will move in a more progressive direction, not necessarily in the political sense, but in its Christian beliefs and practice of those beliefs.

The traditional branch of the current denomination will need to separate to stay the same. That is – pastors and congregations that uphold traditional Christian beliefs will be more effective in preserving them by leaving the United Methodist Church.

In the absence of clear guidelines for consistent and fair separation due to the postponement of the UMC General Conference in 2024, each Annual Conference, led by its presiding bishop, is tasked with setting its parameters for parting ways at the local church level. The resulting outcomes of this arrangement vary greatly – from favorable to onerous – depending on the episcopal leadership of each annual conference.

In some annual conferences, churches are required to pay 30-50 percent of the total value of their property and assets in addition to standard required apportionments and unfunded pension liabilities. In other conferences, bishops and district superintendents are not publicly disclosing their existing terms or require extended periods of discernment.

In South Carolina, Bishop Jonathan Holston has released a plan using paragraph 49 of the Book of Discipline as a path of separation.

While some churches follow the prescribed steps for leaving the denomination, others choose to define their exit terms and risk litigation from their annual conference. Many churches are engaged in lawsuits following this approach.

What are the steps to determining a way forward for this congregation? Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church’s leadership is inviting you into a season of prayer and discernment for separation.