Disaffiliation Connection

Important Information from Church Council

Since 2015 the church has received information regarding the dissonance and now splintering of the United Methodist Church. In 2019 the General Conference of the United Methodist Church provided pathways for churches who felt in faithfulness the necessity to disaffiliate from the denomination. 

Following the 2019 divisive General Conference, a consortium of leaders within the United Methodist Church came together to construct a “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation” which would be fully supported at General Conference 2020. However, with COVID and the ultimate postponement of General Conference to 2024, the progressive supporters of the Protocol have discerned they will no longer support it. Thus, a simple separation from the denomination allowing a church to take their property and assets with them has evaporated. 

This left the provisions of the 2019 General Conference known as paragraph 2553 the only option for churches to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church to become independent or affiliate with another denomination. The “sunset” to begin the process of that paragraph is December 31st of this year. 

That background to say this. The Church Council has considered the issue at their past meetings, and over the past week each member has attended information sessions to further prepare them. Monday evening, September 19th at their regularly scheduled meeting these two options were put before the council: 

  • Option 1 – remain a United Methodist Church 
  • Option 2 – disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and become independent (paragraph 2553 Book of Discipline United Methodist Church) with the possibility of affiliating with another Wesleyan denomination. 

Option 2 was unanimously selected by forty-two members of the Church Council. This is important because as elected representatives, the members of the council felt that every member in good standing should have the opportunity to vote via a Church Conference, on the future of Marion Methodist. The request to convene a Church Conference, to hold the vote, will be made to the District Superintendent after we have made appropriate arrangements to plan and organize opportunities for members of the congregation to learn more regarding all the benefits and difficulties of disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church. 

Every member and friend of the church is encouraged to pray and become informed regarding the background of why we have come to this point and investigate the groups involved. Links to a great deal of information are below: 

Tim Atwood, Church Council Chair                                                        Mike Morgan, Pastor   

9 Commonly Asked Questions

1. Why does the Church Council think that we should vote toward disaffiliation?
The decision of the council comes at the end of several years of information shared by the Lead Pastor and our Annual Conference delegates reporting the growing dissonance of the United Methodist church. The previous disregard by our bishops of the Book of Discipline led us to withhold our apportionments beginning in 2017.
Other factors for the Council’s decision are the third postponement of General Conference (now to 2024) and the near certainty that a simple and gracious pathway to leave the denomination will be legislatively blocked, coupled with the “sunset” date 12/31/23 of the opportunity to disaffiliate.
The council spent time reviewing materials surrounding the issues of sexual ethics, scriptural teachings and contrary theological views currently causing turmoil in the UMC. We also reviewed presentations given at Marion Methodist by #BeUMC (which included the two Assistants to the Bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference) and the Wesleyan Covenant Association.
Further, after reviewing the outcome of the 2019 General Conference and the “Leading Now” visionary letter from our Bishop encouraging additional disobedience to the current Book of Discipline that was legislatively upheld at the 2019 conference, it was apparent the congregation needed to be informed similarly as the council. Thus, the council voted unanimously that the entire congregation should have a voice regarding disaffiliation by calling for a Church Conference vote with our district superintendent for the purpose of disaffiliation or remaining with the UMC.

2. Why do we think we should disaffiliate?
We believe we, should disaffiliate because our doctrine based on scripture is not being upheld by those charged to do so. Disaffiliating will mean that we will continue with the current doctrine of the church in a consistent manner that aligns with scripture as we have been doing at Marion Methodist for the entirety of our existence. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

3. What is a Methodist?
Methodism was developed as a result of revival and reformation movement led by John Wesley and his brother Charles. The Wesleys believed in growing as Christians through community, surrounded by people of similar faith and convictions. Like all Christians, Methodists believe that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to sacrifice himself for the sins of humanity and hold to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to be the holy scripture. Salvation is through Christ alone, through faith in Christ and by His grace. Methodists believe that a personal relationship with God, faith in Christ, and the Holy Spirit transforms their lives and leads people into services for others.
3b. How do we stay Methodist by disaffiliation?
Disaffiliation does not change any of our beliefs that we have been operating in for the last 180+ years. Marion Methodist will still believe that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to sacrifice himself for the sins of humanity and hold to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to be the holy scripture. We will continue to believe salvation is through Christ alone, through faith in Christ and by His grace. We will still believe that a personal relationship with God, faith in God and the Holy Spirit that transforms their lives and leads people into service for others. And Marion Methodist will still believe in growing as Christians through community, surrounded by people of similar faith and convictions.
3c. What is going to change if we disaffiliate? Or stay United Methodist?
If we disaffiliate:
1. We will have the choice to become affiliated with another Wesleyan denomination or stay independent. We are not encouraging Marion Methodist to become an independent church because we believe Christians simply do better work binding together.
2. Our current beliefs, values, and practices will not change!
If we stay United Methodist:
There will be churches within the United Methodist Conference that “consider themselves liberal, evangelical, progressive, traditionalist, middle of the road, conservative, centrist, or something else.” It is desired by our denominational leaders that General Conference will permit individual churches and pastors to be able to decide whether same sex marriages will be performed at their church. No one will be asked to act contrary to their beliefs and convictions but, likewise, no one will be prevented from doing the ministry they feel God is calling them to do. Does this sound like one church? Future pastors will still be appointed by the bishop. Pastors can fall anywhere on the scale from conservative to progressive and are appointed by the bishop regardless of the beliefs of the local church.

4. Is this all about sex?
The short answer is no. While this issue has been the most visible and widely publicized, there are deeper and more significant scriptural and theological disparities that are becoming increasingly apparent. For example, one bishop likened the virgin birth to mythology, suggested Jesus merely claimed to be the Messiah, and rejected the bodily resurrection of Christ.
The pastor of United Methodism’s largest church is teaching that scripture can and should be put into three “buckets”- one for teachings you just know are good and right, another for those that were for a specific time and no longer relevant for today, and the third for scripture that “never ever reflected the heart of God”.
United Methodist-affiliated (apportionment supported) Duke Divinity School prayed to the “Great Queer One” and refer to God as the “mother, father, and parent.” Similar activities, “worship services”, have been held at other United Methodist seminaries as well.
Isaac (They/Them) also known as Ms. Penny Cost (She/Her/Hers) studies Business Management and Religious Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University. They are reportedly the first Drag Queen in the world to be Certified as a Candidate for Ordination within the UMC. Isaac has spoken to congregations across Iowa, the United States, Canada, and the UK on the topics of Queer Theology, The Spirituality of Drag, and Our Collective Call to Liberation.
The above examples are a representative sample of some violations of the current Book of Discipline. Although United Methodism as a whole is not endorsing or promoting all the above in the current “#BEUMC” campaign or claiming these actions as the proper way forward for the church, none of these actions are being disciplined or corrected. In fact, the Cabinet of the Iowa Conference (November 2021) and Bishop Laurie Haller released Leading Now, which called for disregarding our Discipline and circumventing the proper disciplinary process. The Dean of the Cabinet wrote “Yes, we violated the Discipline, but sometimes rules must be broken to effect change.”
These examples, and many more like them, have caused disarray, dysfunction and confusion within the church. All these issues are taking time and energy away from our true mission of making disciples for Christ and are ignoring the truth of scripture.
Marion Methodist has persistently been on record in policy and congregational practice that all persons and family structures are invited and welcomed to partake in the work of ministry and the marks of discipleship.

5. Are we going to lose the church buildings? Escrow, money, etc. Can we sustain (either way)?
No, in fact by disaffiliating we actually will OWN the church building, Carnegie and any other real assets the church possesses (i.e., funds in the Foundation etc.).
In the current state, we hold these buildings and assets in “sacred trust” which is a legal term for the United Methodist Church.
It is true that church council has raised and held apportionments beginning in 2017, a practice that has been reaffirmed by the council numerous times. This began when it became clear that the Book of Discipline was not being followed on certain matters by the Board of Ordained Ministry, our District Superintendents and Bishops. These funds are being held in an Edward Jones fund in escrow. On September 1, the held apportionment fund totaled $917,000. These funds will allow us to disaffiliate. We prayerfully believe we shall be able to financially sustain either way, as we have been good stewards of our money.

6. Why do we have to leave and why do we have to pay to leave? Is there a cost to disaffiliate?
This might be the most upside-down issue of the disaffiliation question. If we want to maintain the doctrine, spirit and discipline of the church isn’t it logical that we would stay and those who desire something different in the church would exit? Yes, it is, BUT, because the denominational checks and balances are broken and some bishops are making policy in dissonance with the doctrine of the church, if we desire to hold to the tenets of 2,000 years of church tradition and the doctrine of the United Methodist Church we must leave.
As of mid-October, we are aware of nearly 100 churches in Iowa having disaffiliation conversations (and over 1,000 churches have already voted to disaffiliate in the USA). Because of that mass, obviously the remaining United Methodist Church will be under much more financial duress than it currently is experiencing. Thus, at General Conference 2019 paragraph 2553 was added to the Book of Discipline and the financial requirements for Marion Methodist are as follows.
The Book of Discipline requires churches seeking to disaffiliate pay 2 years of apportionments (roughly $230,000) and any unfunded pension requirements (currently $133,000 but will be refigured in February).
How would we pay for the cost to disaffiliate?
As noted above in #5 in 2017, the Stewardship and Finance committee voted to withhold payment of apportionments and keep the funds in a trust account until the Iowa Conference began holding churches and pastors accountable to the Book of Discipline. Since then, the church council has continually voted to hold the apportionments payments until a resolution from the Annual Conference was passed. This funding is sufficient to cover any costs from disaffiliation. (There will be additional legal costs; title search, rewriting our bylaws, removing the United Methodist emblems from our signs etc.)

7. How does this impact the current pastor and how will we hire new pastors?
How this impacts the pastor is dependent on the outcome of the vote. If we choose to disaffiliate, then our pastor will stay with us. His pension will transfer to a new denomination, and we will continue to fund his pension. At the time of
disaffiliation, we will also be required to pay for our portion of the unfunded pension liabilities to the UMC. (see #6)
How do we hire new pastors if we disaffiliate? Depending on where we land denominationally after disaffiliation has an impact on how we select a new Pastor. For example, if we join the Global Methodist Church, there will be resources to help place a new pastor similar to how this is currently done as part of the UMC. If we choose to remain an independent Church, then we would use a service that specializes in finding an appropriate match to meet our requirements. This would be very similar to how it’s currently done just using an outside service.
If we choose not to disaffiliate, then our pastor will more than likely retire or could choose to stay with the church. If we need a new pastor, one will be assigned, and we continue as we have in the past.

8. Do we have to be present to vote?
Yes, we do have to be present to vote. This is a longstanding United Methodist Book of Discipline rule.

9. Why consider becoming part of the Global Methodist Church?
First and foremost, we believe in the Wesleyan way of making disciples and that the “methodology” of Methodism could be fantastically effective in this century. Two centuries ago, nearly half of Americans were Methodist and we believe the pre-Christian environment of today has many parallels. Further, we believe Methodism when administered according to form with accountability between the Legislative, Episcopal and Judicial branches is incredibly effective.
That said, United Methodism has LOST 5,000,000 members in the United States in the 54 years of our existence as a denomination. We need something new, and it is right here, available to us. In short, the Global Methodist Church is intended to serve as a resource for all who wish to join in a “methodical,” practical, and warm- hearted pursuit of loving God and serving others as Jesus’ disciples in the world.
The Global Methodist Church is committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, and the work of the Holy Spirit in conveying God’s truth and grace to all people. Witness to the world is marked by mutual love, concern, sharing, and a focus on those who are most vulnerable. Watching over one another in love and bearing witness to the transforming power of the Good News as we humbly, but boldly, strive to serve others as ambassadors of Christ!
In the 1720s John and Charles Wesley and friends at Oxford University met together to deepen their Christian faith through daily, practical spiritual disciplines. Derided by others as a “new sect of Methodists” for their “methodical” ways of practicing the faith and holding one another accountable to it, the small group embraced the insult and persevered in their fellowship. And so, they and the millions who followed after them have ever since been known as “the people called Methodists.” In that spirit, this Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline of the Global Methodist Church is intended to serve as a resource for all who wish to join in a “methodical,” practical, and warm- hearted pursuit of loving God and serving others as Jesus’ disciples in the world. Beginning with confessions rooted in Scripture and shaped by the great teaching of the Church universal, the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline provides the essential structure for the Global Methodist Church from its official launch on May 1, 2022.
We believe it in the best interests of the church to consider becoming a part of the Global Methodist Church.

Additional Questions Concerning Disaffiliation

When reading about the church council meeting it says members be “in good standing”. What does this mean?
Marion Methodist is a church that believes its members should live the “Marks of a Disciple.” This means we desire a member to be in “good standing”, one who offers their prayers, presence, witness, gifts and service to the church as stated in their membership vows.
The policy of the United Methodist Church requires nothing of its membership except not to withdraw or transfer. Thus, if a person has officially joined or been confirmed in the church and not withdrawn or transferred, they are a member of Marion Methodist.

1. Does the vote at the church conference for disaffiliation, November 20th, require a two-thirds vote to pass?
Yes, the vote at church conference for disaffiliation requires a 2/3 vote of the members present to prevail.

2. Currently does the church council have the last word in approving a pastor?
No, the Staff Parish Relations committee is the personnel department of the church. In the United Methodist Church, the bishop of a conference selects a pastor that he or she feels meets the needs of the church most appropriately. The district superintendent presents that pastor to the SPRC and they decide if it is a good fit.

3. Currently does the church council have the right to determine who can be married in our church?
No, the pastor of a UM church is responsible for counseling and officiating at the marriages in his or her parish. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist church sets the parameters of who can be married, that is one man to one woman. This is the standing rule of the church since 1972.

4. What are the financial costs of disaffiliation; actual dollar estimate?
The cost of disaffiliation comes in three basic categories. First, we will be required to pay two years apportionments. That cost would be roughly $230,000. The second cost would be the cost of the unfunded pension liabilities which today are $132,500. Further, there would be costs for re-branding the church, doing a title search to gain ownership of the property, and various other things, legal bylaw changes etc. Because the church has held apportionments since 2017 there is roughly $900,000 in an account that will either pay these expenses, or be negotiated as to how to pay apportionments if a disaffiliation vote does not prevail.

5. Assuming the vote to disaffiliate passes, are individuals of the LBGTQ community eligible for membership in the church? If they can be members, are they subject to any other restrictions other than marriage and ordination?
Of course, anyone can be a member of Marion Methodist. That has always been the case, in light of the UMC’s current policies regarding marriage and ordination and we believe the church is welcoming and open to any who seek the Lord. The answer to the second question is; none other than any other member of the church. (For instance, if a person wants to teach doctrine such as Navajo theology rather than Christian theology in our Sunday school, regardless of their orientation, leadership would disqualify them from that work.)

Church Conference Mechanics

District Superintendent Moody Colorado has provided the following information

Announcement Requirement: You must announce the date at least 10 days with 2 Sundays inclusive through all the communications you normally use to communicate to the members. The exact date and time and the building where the voting will take place. 

Church Conference will be held at Marion Methodist 5050 REC Dr. at 5:00 PM on Sunday, November 20th.

           Doors for registration will open at 4:15 PM (Please come early)

Congregational Awareness of Financial Responsibilities: Provide votes with the following:

           Unfunded Pension Liabilities due: $132,443

           Two years Apportionments due: $229,869

Registration and Vote counting: The Church Council is to create an Ad Hoc Committee for registration and counting of votes. The registration is to be numbered and ballots distributed will have their specific number marked on the ballot so that the counters can validate the ballot. The counters of the Ad Hoc Committee will collect and count the votes and the result submitted to the Presiding Elder. The total of voting members present as per gate registration shall be announced prior to the vote. Hospitality volunteers and Daycare attendants (if members) will be given enough time to cast their votes. The result of the vote will be announced before the conclusion of the Conference.

Restrictions to Voting: Only members of the church can vote, and you must be 18 years of age to cast a ballot.

One important note regarding Church Conference votes – There had been some confusion regarding who could vote at a Church Conference, specifically the confirmed youth not yet 18 years of age. The Dean of the Iowa Cabinet, Rev. Ron Carlson, in response to this question has responded as follows: 

The prevue for setting the procedures for 2553 is with the Board of Trustees under the provisions of 2553, itself. Paragraph 2553 is the work of the General Conference. The Board of Trustees (BOT) has established 18 as the voting age for 2553 voting. Under 2553, “Annual conferences may develop additional standard terms that are not inconsistent with the standard form of this paragraph.” ¶ 2553.4(a). This was reaffirmed by the Judicial Council in Decision Number 1425. The BOT arrived at the age requirement after consulting with the Chancellor regarding Iowa law and votes regarding the transfer of real property and other significant assets (e.g., bank and foundation accounts) where a minor’s vote may not necessarily be final. See BOD ¶ Para. 256.3 (limiting youth voting in some circumstances).  Also, the BOT, in consultation with the Cabinet, as a practical, pastoral matter also wished to avoid manipulation of the voting process by placing undue pressure on youth or one party or another using the process of confirmation or baptism to increase voting numbers when a close vote is expected  

Recording the Actions of the Conference: A Recording Secretary shall be elected to produce the official Minutes of the Church Conference, to be signed by both the Presiding Elder and the Recording Secretary. Copies shall be multiplied at the end of the Conference and provided to the following: Original goes to Rev Moody Colorado, a copy held by the pastor and the Recording Secretary for church file.

The Ballot: The ballot will contain the following motion:

I support Marion Methodist disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church.

YES ____        NO ___

Expression of Abstention shall be counted as NO vote. Only present and voting members are valid. Zoom or proxy is not allowed.

The Result: The measure to disaffiliate from the United Methodist church requires 2/3 of the votes. Should the vote prevail, next steps have been provided to the Church Council Chair and Pastor outlining next steps.

Prayers for the Church

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