Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church joins other congregations in the South Carolina Conference in discerning a new future outside the United Methodist Church. Each church must choose a discernment pathway that best reflects its theological beliefs, core values, and Christian mission in the world. At Mt. Horeb, the Way Forward Discernment Team has been meeting since May of 2022. This team is comprised of Gerry Carter, Paul Clifton, Chris Condon, Jenny Cooper, Laine Dunbar, William Floyd, Lisa Gibson, Wendy Hendrix, Keith Hudson, Matt Moore, Kent Porth, Marty Wilson, and Denise Thomas.
Option One: Stay with the United Methodist Church
Taking a “wait and see” approach and remaining a congregation associated with the United Methodist Church follows conventional wisdom for maintaining the status quo.
The continuing United Methodist Church, or as some are calling it, the post-separation UMC, will not maintain the status quo. The Council of Bishops, academic leaders, and some clergy are moving to adopt more progressive agendas.
Option Two: Affiliate with another Methodist Denomination
Membership and worship attendance in the greater United Methodist Church has declined nearly every year since its inception in 1968. To date, the denomination has lost 6 million members. Over the last 30 years, Mt. Horeb has gained over 4700 new members…. a 1700% increase. This growth is due to our continuing consistent biblical foundation.
As traditionalists look to other conservative expressions of Methodism, there is a desire to move together in the direction of growth and renewal not as individual churches but as a network of churches that are theologically and socially aligned. This networking is a classic Wesleyan model of congregational connectionalism.
The leadership team at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church recognizes the value of maintaining the connectional model, upholding its historic Wesleyan tradition, and laying the groundwork for future growth and vitality that only comes in a shared community.
Currently, two Methodist denominations offer Mt. Horeb UMC viable opportunities for connection, renewal, and revival in the future: the Global Methodist Church and the Free Methodist USA.
The Global Methodist Church (GMC)
Launched on May 1, 2022, the Global Methodist Church is the new expression of traditional theology. It now serves as an alternative to the continuing United Methodist Church/post-separation UMC. The GMC is the result of a multi-year collaboration of The Wesley Covenant Association, Good News, the Confessing Movement, and other conservative stakeholders with the UMC.
As a new denomination, the GMC’s structure and administration are early in development. It is led by a 17-member Transitional Leadership Council representing congregations and clergy in the United States, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, and Africa.
The GMC Model is being created with a leaner organizational structure, giving more autonomy and authority to local congregations while maintaining strong cross-connectional ties.
The GMC Model is on record as upholding and enforcing the current Discipline regarding marriage and human sexuality, as well as a pro-life stance except in tragic conflicts of life against life. It offers new members relief from the United Methodist Church property trust clause and no guaranteed appointments.
The Free Methodist Church
Based in Indianapolis, IN, the Free Methodist Church USA is a denomination with shared roots dating back to the Methodist revival in England during the 18th Century.
Today, the Free Methodist Church comprises only about 68,000 members in approximately 850 churches across the United States. By design, the denomination offers a small amount of governance at the national level to place emphasis and energy on the local church. Several articles have been published on the denomination’s website offering information to UMC churches that are discerning possible affiliation.
The church offers five values it calls the Free Methodist Way, which serve as points of unique distinction from other Wesleyan denominations:
Securing separation from the United Methodist Church means relief from the theological and social misalignment of past decades and the ineffective and outdated oversight model. However, this relief comes at the expense of any official connection with like-minded clergy and congregations. Informal, ad hoc alliances may form among United Methodist Church congregations that part ways with the United Methodist Church and aren’t ready to affiliate with a different denomination.
Our church is going through a period of discernment to consider leaving the United Methodist Church. Many churches across the United Methodist Church landscape have already acted, and many others are considering action.
On February 26, Mt. Horeb UMC is planning to take a churchwide vote to leave the United Methodist Church. You must be a member and present to vote.
A secondary, practical reason for leaving the denomination is that Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church will have clear ownership of its church property. The larger denomination will not have input into our property and finances. Mt. Horeb is in a strong place financially because of God’s faithfulness and your generosity. The cost of separation will be covered by monies already in our cash reserve.