FAQ About The United Methodist Church

1. Is The United Methodist Church formally splitting?

No. The General Conference of The United Methodist Church has not adopted legislation to divide the denomination’s assets and resources. Only General Conference has the authority to authorize a denominational split. Currently, some traditionalists have launched a new denomination called the Global Methodist Church and are encouraging like-minded clergy and congregations to disaffiliate from the UMC in order to join the new denomination. Likewise, there are additional clergy and congregations with an array of theological leanings considering leaving the denomination for various reasons. 

Book of Discipline ¶2553, adopted by the 2019 General Conference allows a pathway to disaffiliation that does not require a congregation to purchase their property from the Annual Conference. There are other financial responsibilities a congregation must meet to be in accordance with ¶2553. This option is only available until the end of the year 2023. This has motivated some congregations to pursue disaffiliation now instead of waiting for future General Conference legislation. 

2. Is The United Methodist Church changing its theology in 2024 to renounce the Bible’s authority or deny the Trinity?

No. These basic Christian beliefs and others are cemented in the doctrine of The United Methodist Church through its foundational documents including the Articles of Religion, the Confession of Faith. Both are found in Part III of the Book of Discipline.

These historic statements date back to the time of John Wesley. They are all considered part of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church and therefore cannot be easily altered. In fact, to make a change to these historic faith statements would take a two-step process. First, two-thirds of the General Conference delegates would have to vote to alter them. Secondly, that constitutional change must then be approved by a three-fourths aggregate vote of all annual and central conferences of The United Methodist Church worldwide.

In other words, changes in our church’s basic doctrine would need to be approved not only by a super-majority of General Conference delegates but also by 75% of all United Methodist ordained elders, ordained deacons and lay members to Annual Conference from around the world. There is no reason to believe this many United Methodists would vote to change core doctrinal standards that have guided our church throughout its history.

3. Why are some areas of the UMC not being held accountable for breaking the Discipline?

In the North Alabama Conference, leaders have not changed their commitment to upholding our Book of Discipline. They join the majority of United Methodists around the world in this ongoing commitment.

4. Is the “Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation and Restructuring,” known as "the Protocol” dead?

It still has not been decided if the General Conference 2024 will be the postponed 2020 General Conference and will deal with all legislation submitted to that legislative meeting including the Protocol or if it will be a new General Conference with newly elected delegates and all newly submitted legislation. While some of the originators of the Protocol have publicly said they think its time is past, the 2022 North Alabama Conference adopted a resolution encouraging the General Conference to adopt the Protocol legislation. Even if the original Protocol is not presented to the General Conference, there is an expectation there will be other legislation proposed to work toward the same goals as the Protocol. General Conference must consider all legislation submitted.

5. Will The United Methodist Church drop all prohibitions related to human sexuality at its next General Conference in 2024?

The policies of The United Methodist Church are set by its General Conference and it is the only body that can change them. General Conference delegates consider a lot of legislative proposals covering a variety of topics at each General Conference. General Conference delegates come from every Annual and Central Conference around the world and have a diversity of cultural and theological points of view. Historically legislation to lift prohibitions related to human sexuality have failed. Currently, the UMC has not realigned or restructured in a way to expect the 2024 General Conference to make sweeping changes in this area.

6. Is The United Methodist Church going bankrupt?

There is not a single entity called the United Methodist Church. Instead, we are a connection of many entities (e.g., local churches, annual conferences, General Church Agencies). The General Board of Finance and Administration (GCFA) posts audit reports of all General Church Agencies and Funds on the GCFA website at http://www.gcfa.org/reports/. As evidenced by the audit reports, General Church entities are solvent.

7. Are only those considered theologically progressive elected Bishop in The United Methodist Church?

No. Bishops are ordained elders elected to the office of Bishop by their Jurisdictional (in the U.S.) or Central (outside the U.S.) Conference. A Jurisdictional Conference is made up of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates from every Annual Conference in the Jurisdictional area. This means United Methodist bishops come from all geographic areas of the church and reflect the diverse cultural and theological perspectives of the church.

8. Who has oversight of Bishops in the United States?

In the United States, United Methodist bishops are elected by Jurisdictional Conferences to serve in the Jurisdiction (regional area) in which they are elected. Bishops are “amenable for their conduct to their jurisdictional conference” (BOD ¶ 523). In our predecessor denominations, Bishops were elected by the General Conference of the church.  In 1939, the Methodist Church was formed when the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the Methodist Protestant Church merged. At that time Jurisdictional Conferences were added to the church’s structure (including the segregated Central Jurisdiction in the United States) and given the role of electing bishops. This method of electing Bishops was continued after The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 with the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Though the segregated Central Jurisdiction was ended and all U.S. Annual Conferences integrated by 1972,  the election and oversight of Bishops have remained regional with responsibility being held at the Jurisdictional level and not the General Conference level. (Election and oversight of bishops outside the U.S. are in the central conferences.) 

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