For those whose congregations have voted to disaffiliate, but who wish to remain United Methodist, the Virginia Annual Conference and the Cabinet offer Next Steps, a web site with resources to remain connected as they discern where God is calling them. At Next Steps, individuals and churches may
- access resources for small group gathering and other means of discipleship;
- learn about Bridge Churches, which offer a safe haven for persons while they discern their next faithful step;
- transfer their membership to the General Roll of the United Methodist Church, held by the annual conference, as a temporary holding space until they connect with a new congregation;
- reach out for additional support from their District Superintendent and District staff.
The Conference staff will continue to update these pages with resources and options as they become available. Persons are welcome to reach out to the District Superintendent of their district for additional support and assistance.
The churches and leaders of the Virginia Annual Conference continue to pray for all affected by disaffiliation but hope that United Methodists will join together on the bridge as we look toward 2024 and beyond.
Bridge Churches offer one possible next step for persons who choose to remain United Methodist after their church disaffiliates, providing pastoral care, assistance in gathering, and invitations to share in ministry opportunities with their congregations. These churches are not recruiting members; they offer a safe space of support, nurture, and opportunities for connection during this time of transition. Individuals may choose to join Bridge churches, on their terms and at their own pace of discernment; or they may choose to join elsewhere.
If your congregation would like to become a Bridge Church, you must be committed to remaining United Methodist for the long-term. The steps involved are:
- Invite your congregation’s key leaders, including your pastor, to review the description of a Bridge Church.
- Have key leaders watch the training video.
- Register online and wait for confirmation from your District Superintendent.
- Once your District Superintendent has approved your request, present the Bridge Church Resolution to your church’s governing body (church council or board). A simple majority is required for approval.
- Notify your District Superintendent and the conference office of your church’s decision using this form.
- Your church will appear on the map of Bridge Churches, and you may identify your congregation as a Bridge Church.
More information about Bridge Churches and other ways of supporting persons who wish to remain United Methodist as their church disaffiliates are available at nextsteps.vaumc.org and by reaching out to your District Superintendent.