UNITED METHODIST CHURCH DISCERNMENT UPDATE
August 23, 2023
Our Church Council met on Thursday, August 10, 2023, and voted 32-3 to call for a Church
Conference of the full membership vote regarding disaffiliation from the United Methodist
Church in accordance with para. 2553 of the Book of Discipline. This request was sent to the
District Superintendent who will set the date and time of the meeting, which according to Annual
Conference rules, must be held by October 25th . The congregation will be notified when we
receive the specific arrangements.
A vote to disaffiliate requires a two-thirds majority of those members present at the Church
Conference. Professing membership includes youth who have joined the church as part of their
confirmation class or by profession of faith at another time. If you are uncertain about your
membership status you may contact Lori Smith, Church Administrator, at the church office
(662) 323-5722. If our congregation passes this disaffiliation vote it must then be ratified by a special
session of Annual Conference scheduled for December 9, 2023.
For further information you may wish to review the Frequently Asked Questions documents
found on the church website, https://www.first-umc.org/umc-updates, or you may obtain a
printed version through the church office. If your Sunday School Class would like an update
regarding the pending Church Conference contact Bart Williams (662) 769-1928, or
Gary Windham (662) 722-0802. An additional information meeting is planned for Sunday, September
10th , at 2:00 p.m. in the sanctuary for those who cannot attend a Sunday School gathering.
Please continue to be in prayer during this discernment process. In the meantime, “ 6 Do not be
anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present
your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
1. HOW IS THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH ORGANIZED?
• Legislative: General Conference (set theological and organization policy)
• Executive: Bishops and denominational leaders (enacts policy and procedures)
• Judicial: Judicial Council (rules on actions and decisions)
• Southeastern Jurisdiction, Mississippi Annual Conference, Starkville District
• Local church governed by committees, major decisions by Church Conference
2. HOW DID THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH GET TO
THIS CRITICAL POINT?
• Legislative deadlock at General Conference in 2016 around LGBTQ debate
• General Conference 2019 reaffirmed Book of Discipline
• Episcopal and leadership disobedience
• COVID-19 delays General Conference in
2020, 2021, 2022.
3. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACING THE DENOMINATION?
• Surge in congregational disaffiliations from UMC
• Jurisdictional Conferences actions which will impact General Conference
• Increasing disobedience to Discipline among some bishops and leaders
4. WHAT IS DISAFFILIATION?
• 2019 Discipline provision (Para. 2553) allowing congregations to exit the UMC
• Payment of apportionments and pension program, property to local church
• Provision expires December 2023
5. WHAT ABOUT
• UMC position unchanged since 1972
• All persons of sacred worth, including those in LGBTQ community
• UMC restrict rites of ordination and marriage for LGBTQ persons
6. HOW DOES ALL OF THIS IMPACT OUR CONGREGATION?
• Major distraction from mission and ministry, drain on resources
• Mississippi Methodism is intricately connected, many churches disaffiliating
7. HOW DOES THIS IMPACT
• Retired clergy pensions are protected
• Appointed clergy continue to serve under UMC or resign from Conference
8. WHAT IS NEXT?
A Message From The Pastor
For many years, the United Methodist Church has been in serious debate surrounding the
Church’s positions regarding human sexuality, particularly clergy participation in the rites of
ordination and marriage involving persons of the LGBTQ community. Sadly, this has debate has
transformed into organizational distrust and outright disobedience.
As part of the Mississippi delegation to the 2016 and 2019 General Conferences, I experienced
the dysfunction of our denomination first-hand. The United Methodist Church is now splintering
and as many congregations begin to exit it is vital that we assess what the future holds for our
I am grateful for the ministry of our Administrative Board. They are hosting several gatherings
to present updated information and receive feedback from the congregation. The resources they
have assembled will be helpful in our congregation’s discernment. Thank you for taking the
time to attend these gatherings and for reading the material presented.
Trust God and trust one another. As we do, remember the promise we find in God’s Word:
“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, RSV).