Disciples of Jesus Christ live and act graciously toward others even when we hold different opinions. I have shared on multiple occasions my desire that we would live into this value, particularly in this season of the church’s life and our work together. Therefore, you can understand why it breaks my heart to have to share the following statement with you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.
I have become increasingly aware that an abundance of misinformation is being shared concerning disaffiliation. These untruths and misinformation are being used as tools of fear. I ask you to covenant with me both as clergy and laity that we will not participate in spreading false information about one another or about The United Methodist Church. I pray that we will be accountable for calling out misinformation or untruth when we hear or see it.
It truly saddens me that some of this misinformation includes my future personally. I wish to say this in the strongest terms possible: my calling and assignment as a Bishop should never, under any circumstances, be used as a fear tactic to frighten congregations and pastors into disaffiliating or staying in The United Methodist Church. Dawn and I will serve joyfully wherever the Southeastern Jurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy assigns us. It is not our work to choose that assignment. It is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church. I am not retiring on January 1, 2023, despite false reports of such a plan.
While I am grievously aware of where we are, I have shared on numerous occasions that I do not desire any church or pastor to disaffiliate. I also want to reemphasize that we should not be demonizing each other or sharing disparaging information about any person’s belief, or spreading untruths about the history or doctrine of The United Methodist Church. Please remember the means we use will always determine the ends.
We have recently updated our official disaffiliation information page to include helpful tools for your congregation as you discern the best path forward:
- You can now request an official UMC representative to come to speak at your church.
- We have clarified the steps for clergy withdrawal if you do not have your certificate(s).
- We have simplified the “For Churches” section and added essential dates and deadlines.
Additionally, we have scheduled three webinars in August to help clarify the disaffiliation agreement (8/11), clergy withdrawal (8/18), and the future of The United Methodist Church (8/25). Each webinar will be offered from 12 – 1 pm on the scheduled date, and they will be recorded and made available for later viewing. Please register for these webinars and share this opportunity with others in your faith community.
Let us not build our future on negativity, anger, misinformation, or tactics that make people stay or go. Let us build our future on Christ, the Solid Rock because all other ground is sinking sand.