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. If your church is considering disaffiliation, you first need to contact your district superintendent who can share next steps.
3. Forty-three churches in the Virginia Conference (as of February 18, 2023) have met the criteria for disaffiliation and been ratified by the Virginia Annual Conference membership.
Learn more from October 2022 AC …
Learn more from February 2023 AC…
4. The Paragraph 2553 legislation, approved by the denomination and the Virginia bishop and Cabinet for disaffiliation, has a sunset date of December 31, 2023. Churches in the Virginia Conference have two additional opportunities to move toward disaffiliation in 2023 before this deadline. These are May 6 and October 7. Contact your district superintendent if you have questions. Annual Conference members will receive more information about these events closer to their respective dates.
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
33 churches disaffiliated at Special Called Annual Conference
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...
Church court: No new elections needed for General Conference 2024
By Heather Hahn, UM News Key points: The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council concluded that no provision in church law allows for a General Conference to be canceled. The church court designated the coming legislative assembly scheduled for 2024 as the...
Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference is this week
As a reminder, the 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ) takes place on November 2-4 at Lake Junaluska, NC. The Southeastern Jurisdiction of United Methodist Church is a regional body comprised of 14 conferences, including the Virginia Conference. This...
Reminder: October 2022 Annual Conference Sessions
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...
Virginia Conference Responds to Firm Claiming to Represent 26 Churches Seeking Disaffiliation
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...
Judicial Council Issues Important Disaffiliation Ruling
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...
Watch webinar, view resources from July 12 Q&A webinar
Find resources below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F1-vK5qpIo Resources • Book of Discipline • 2016 Book of Discipline Errata (changes made at the 2019 General Conference, including ¶2553 which is on pages 4 - 5), free online version • United Methodist beliefs •...
Virginia Delegation will share information about Christmas Covenant; ask for endorsement in 2023
In early 2022, the Virginia Conference Delegation to General and Jurisdictional Conference voted to endorse the Christmas Covenant, “a set of legislation and constitutional amendments submitted to the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) General Conference with the goal of...
A Statement about the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation
In the aftermath of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference and the subsequent crises it caused within the United Methodist Church, Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone (now deceased) experienced a deep calling to bring healing to the denomination. Drawing...
Clergy Benefit Liabilities FAQs
By John Fuller, Executive Director, Pensions and Related Benefits In the event of a church disaffiliation from the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church under paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline, the disaffiliating church will be required to pay its...
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.
The commission is made up of 25 members who are elected quadrennially by the General Conference body. More information about the commission can be found in ¶ 511 of the Book of Discipline.
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
Virginia Conference Delegation
Click here to download a list of names with their email addresses (pdf)
Click here to download a list of names with their email addresses (Excel)
The General Conference 2020 Website
United Methodist News Service