As The United Methodist Church moves through a period of discernment and transition, the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church is also in a time of change. Some churches in the Conference have decided to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. On November 19, at a special called annual conference in Fayetteville, the Conference Board of Trustees will present those requests for disaffiliation, effective December 31, 2022.
The membership of these churches represents approximately 22 percent of the total membership of the conference. Since many of these votes were not unanimous, we know there are more that want to stay United Methodist. While portrayed as a traditionalist/progressive split, both traditionalist and progressive United Methodists are staying and remaining committed to the mission of The United Methodist Church. People in churches that voted to disaffiliate wishing to remain United Methodist can move their membership to another United Methodist Church or move their membership to a new faith community in the Conference until they find a new church home.
The Conference’s Office of New Faith Communities is working with the Cabinet and Leadership Team to create new spaces for new people where communities may no longer have a United Methodist presence after the disaffiliation process is complete.
Sixty-eight percent of the current churches in the Conference will remain United Methodist as we move into 2023. Conference leaders project the financial impact to be an approximate 25 percent reduction, and conference agencies and committees will evaluate their ministry priorities and adjust budgets in the coming months.
We mourn that there are those compelled to leave The United Methodist Church. These are people we have studied with, worshiped with, communed with, and shared in ministry. We have laughed together and cried together. We love our brothers and sisters. We pray they find a home where they can be in fruitful ministry and mission.
Moving forward, our churches will continue to be safe havens for all seeking a personal relationship with God, places of welcome, respect, belonging, understanding, and love.
Moving forward, we will continue to live out the love of Jesus in the world. We will preach our faith in God through Jesus Christ as the only source of our salvation. We will live that faith not only in our churches but in our communities and the world – in schools, hospitals, prisons, and in places of war, famine, disease, and natural disaster. We will move forward in unity as diverse, generous, disciple-making, justice-seeking, grace-filled, Christ-centered people of God.
As people rooted in the Wesleyan tradition, we will continue to seek ways to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As Bishop Leonard E. Fairley states, “today is not an ending but a beginning. I cannot wait to see what God births. I know it will be beautiful despite our painful journey. I pray God will continue to sustain each of us as we move into God’s preferred future.”
Image credit: Helen Coats