FAQ North Alabama Conference and the Bishop

1. Bishop Wallace-Padgett has said there will potentially be three opportunities for churches to disaffiliate — December 2022, mid-2023 and possibly late 2023. What are the deadlines churches should know?

Below are some key dates and deadlines regarding the upcoming special session of the North Alabama Conference related to church disaffiliation under Book of Discipline ¶2553.

December 2022 Special Session

  • Sept. 1, 2022 - Last day for a congregation to begin the discernment process to consider disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church and have time to complete it prior to the December 2022 Special Session.
  • Dec. 1, 2022 - Last day for a congregation to hold a Church Conference vote to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church under Book of Discipline ¶2553 and be among the churches considered during the December 2022 Special Session of the North Alabama Annual Conference. 
  • Dec. 10, 2022 - Special Session of the North Alabama Annual Conference to be held with the purpose of processing current requests for disaffiliation under ¶2553 of The United Methodist Book of Discipline

As specific dates are announced for 2023 sessions of the North Alabama Annual Conference to process local church requests for disaffiliation under Book of Discipline ¶2553 the key deadlines will also be communicated.
 

2. Do the Bishop, Cabinet, Board of Ministry and other groups uphold the Book of Discipline in North Alabama?

Yes.
 

3. Does the North Alabama Conference have any input about the next bishop that will be assigned to our Conference?

Bishops are elected by a Jurisdictional Conference composed of clergy and lay delegates from every Annual Conference in that jurisdictional area. The North Alabama Conference is a part of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Our delegation to the 2022 Southeastern Jurisdiction is listed at here.

Bishops are assigned by the Jurisdiction’s episcopacy committee. This committee also has representatives from every Annual Conference in the Jurisdiction. The North Alabama members of the SEJ Episcopacy Committee are Rev. Dr. Robin Scott and Steve Lyles.
 

4. Does a Bishop make all the decisions for an Annual Conference?

Bishops provide spiritual leadership and general oversight to the worldwide United Methodist Church. They serve in various leadership roles at the General Church and Jurisdictional levels. In the Annual Conference he or she serves, a Bishop sets all clergy appointments, is the presiding officer at the annual conference session and rules on points of law. 

There are many teams and committees, comprised of North Alabama clergy and laity elected by the Annual Conference that also have leadership, decision-making and administrative responsibilities for North Alabama. Some of these include:

  • Board of Laity
  • Board of Ministry
  • Board of Pension
  • Conference Council on Finance and Administration
  • Conference Nominations Team
  • Conference Trustees
     

5. The Southeastern Jurisdiction may assign a new Bishop to North Alabama in January 2023. Will this change the North Alabama Conference disaffiliation process?

The Conference Trustees have the responsibility for the disaffiliation process. Any changes recommended by a new bishop would have to be approved and then implemented by the Conference Trustees.
 

6. Do local churches and clergy get a say in the clergy appointment process in the North Alabama Conference?

Yes. The Bishop and Appointive Cabinet consult with clergy each year and with a church’s Staff-Parish or Pastor-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC). These consultations help the Bishop and Cabinet to identify gifts, graces, ministry priorities and needs, context and other factors they will consider while prayerfully making pastoral appointments. Their goal each year is for pastoral appointments to be successful for both the clergy and the congregation, so they take the information they receive during consultations very seriously.
 

7. Is the North Alabama Conference going to start new churches in areas of North Alabama where congregations are disaffiliating?

Yes! The Conference’s long-standing ministry of planting new churches and ministries will continue. The Conference Leadership Team is actively developing plans to start new congregations and ministries in areas where current United Methodist congregations vote to leave the denomination. These will include new churches, house churches, fresh expressions and more.

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