Disaffiliation in The United Methodist Church: What you need to know
As members of The United Methodist Church debate the church’s stance on human sexuality, some congregations are considering whether they wish to leave the denomination. During this challenging time with the postponement of the 2020 General Conference to 2024 and the launch of the Global Methodist Church on May 1, 2022, some churches have discerned to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church.
1. If your church is staying in The United Methodist Church, there is no action you need to take.
2. Two hundred and twenty-seven churches in the Virginia Conference (as of October 7, 2023) have met the criteria for disaffiliation and been ratified by the Virginia Annual Conference membership.
3. The Paragraph 2553 legislation, approved by the denomination and the Virginia bishop and Cabinet for disaffiliation, has a sunset date of December 31, 2023. The opportunity to disaffiliate in the Virginia Conference under Paragraph 2553 legislation from the Book of Discipline is now closed.
4. When churches close or disaffiliate, church families may scatter and relationships fray. If you are experiencing this transition, but have chosen to remain United Methodist, you may be unsure of your next steps.
As you discern where God is calling you, you are not alone. Learn about Bridge Churches…
Find more VAUMC news and releases about disaffiliation in the links below.
Resources Addressing Disaffiliation Misinformation
There are a number of resources from The United Methodist Church and around the connection that address misinformation surrounding disaffiliation. For Virginia churches, clergy, and laity, please contact your district superintendent for any questions.
- Learn more about the #BeUMC campaign from The United Methodist Church.
- Learn about the #ProudtobeUMC campaign from Church of the Resurrection.
- Ask The UMC helps answer general questions about disaffiliation and misinformation about the church’s official positions. This series of FAQs is designed to help dispel false information and provide accurate answers to the questions that are received. Find all nine parts of this series in this PDF. Some questions answered by this series are below.
FAQ #1 Is the UMC really….splitting? Asking traditionalists to leave? Changing doctrines on Virgin Birth? Learn more…
FAQ #2 Is the UMC really…dropping prohibitions related to human sexuality? Learn more….
FAQ #3 Is the UMC really…letting churches leave the denomination using legislation other than Par. 2553? Learn more…
FAQ #4 Is the UMC really… letting departing churches retain their pastors? Ending memberships of those whose local church disaffiliates? Learn more…
FAQ #5 Is the UMC really… asking local churches to vote on whether to remain in The United Methodist Church or join the Global Methodist Church? Learn more…
VUMPI Executive Director John Fuller provides information about Virginia Conference pension liabilities.
News to Know
VAUMC shares local church status following last Special Called Annual Conference related to disaffiliation, Paragraph 2553
The Virginia Annual Conference held four Special Called sessions from 2022 to 2023 for churches who followed the disaffiliation process outlined in Paragraph 2553 from the Book of Discipline to be considered for ratification by the Annual Conference body. As a result,...
October 7, 2023 A Special Called Annual Conference session was held on October 7, 2023 for the Virginia Annual Conference membership to consider the ratification of 120 local churches seeking to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church over matters of human...
The last Special Called Annual Conference in the Virginia Conference to consider local church disaffiliation under Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline is scheduled for Saturday, October 7, 2023 at 9 a.m. via Zoom webinar. More information will be forthcoming in...
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,...
May 6, 2023 A Special Called Annual Conference session was held on May 6, 2023 for the Virginia Annual Conference membership to consider the ratification of 64 local churches seeking to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church over matters of human sexuality...
February 18, 2023 A Special Called Annual Conference session was held on February 18, 2023 for the Virginia Annual Conference membership to consider the ratification of 34 local churches seeking to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church over matters of human...
As a reminder to the Virginia Annual Conference members, on Saturday, October 29, 2022, two Special Annual Conferences will be held: At 9 a.m, an Annual Conference will convene for the sole purpose of closing church property using Paragraph 2549.3. At 9:30 a.m., an...
In recent weeks, the Virginia Conference has received more than two dozen letters from an organization called the National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL) demanding that 26 churches be able to promptly disaffiliate under Paragraph 2548.2 of the Book of Discipline...
On August 23, 2022, the Judicial Council, The United Methodist Church’s top court, issued a strong and clear ruling that churches seeking to disaffiliate over matters of human sexuality must do so under Paragraph ¶ 2553 of the Book of Discipline. The 2019 General...
FAQs- Last updated Spring 2022
Frequently Asked Questions about General Conference
The Commission on the General Conference announced on March 3, 2022 that the 2022 General Conference session, postponed from 2020, would be further postponed until 2024.
You can view the full statement about the General Conference postponement here.
Other questions our Virginia Conference members may have are below.
Why did the Commission on General Conference make the decision to postpone?
This decision was made based on many factors including the backlog for visas and passports for brothers and sisters from other countries that would prevent them from obtaining the necessary documentation to travel to the United States. As part of the decision-making process, the commission received a report from the U.S. State Department that visa applications are backlogged in some countries for up to 800-plus days and the visa process also includes a complex interview process which is also backlogged and delayed. As such, many delegates from outside the United States would not be able to participate in person at the General Conference. Learn more at the link.
Not only are the visas and passports causing travel issues, there are also issues with vaccinations for COVID-19 for many delegates in other countries. Some delegates from other countries are not as blessed as people in the United States with available vaccines for COVID-19. The health and safety of all of the delegates and other attendees is of utmost importance.
Equity and fairness in participation of this body is vitally important as the General Conference is the only body that can officially speak for The United Methodist Church. This body is made up of 862 voting delegates with 55.9 percent from the United States, 32 percent from Africa, 6 percent from the Philippines, 4.6 percent from Europe and the remainder from concordat churches with close ties to the denomination.
Will the Virginia Conference need to elect new delegates for the 2024 General Conference?
The commission shared in the March 3 communication that the Judicial Council would need to provide clarity on which preparations and processes are based on the 2020 General Conference and which are part of the new 2024 General Conference. A definitive answer will be shared as soon as it is available.
Will a Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference be held this year or prior to 2024? What will happen with the election of new bishops?
This is information that will need to be clarified for all annual conferences and jurisdictions in the denomination. That information will be shared as soon as it is clarified from the Commission on the General Conference and/or the Judicial Council.
What will happen to legislation that was before the 2022 General Conference body?
This is information that will have to be further clarified. At the end of February 2022, the Judicial Council, the top court of the UMC, said any postponement of the General Conference would reset the submission deadlines for proposed legislation. Learn more at this link.
When and where will the 2024 General Conference be?
This information will need to be confirmed in upcoming communications from the Commission on the General Conference.
The Commission will meet again on March 28, 2022 to continue preparing for the postponed 2020 General Conference and considering solutions to avoid delays in future meetings.
If churches wanted to disaffiliate from the Virginia Annual Conference, can they before 2024?
Yes. Churches who want to learn how to disaffiliate from the conference need to communicate this desire to their district superintendent. The district superintendent will then begin this process with a time of discernment with the local church. Find the complete list of the district superintendents at the link.
If annual conferences want to disaffiliate, can they do so before 2024?
On March 8,2022, the Council of Bishops requested a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on whether an annual conference can separate from the denomination under the provision of the Book of Discipline. The bishops are asking for an expedited ruling so that there is consistency among the annual conferences and to avoid action by individual annual conferences that may violate the Discipline. Learn more at the link.
What will happen at General Conference 2024?
This will depend in part on the legislation before the General Conference body. Normal General Conference sessions include a week of legislative committees prior to the General Conference body meeting together as a whole.
General Conference 2022 and 2024
The General Conference 2020 Website
United Methodist News Service