Message from NAC3 Team
In recent months some North Alabama Conference churches have entered a discernment process about whether to disaffiliate or stay affiliated with the UMC. We have many other congregations committed to remaining United Methodist.
The letter and video below are particularly written for North Alabama Conference churches discerning disaffiliation. They also describe the commitments of North Alabama Conference leadership about how we will conduct ourselves as we approach the 2024 General Conference.
Regardless of your plans related to discerning disaffiliation, you are encouraged to watch the brief video. Thanks for all that you do.In Christ,
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett
As we prepare for Annual Conference on June 22-24, 2022, and General Conference in 2024, we all are no doubt left with anxiety over the many unknowns we face. Disagreement over theology and procedure, and fear over potential disaffiliations from the denomination and associated impacts have (understandably) pulled our focus from our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. However, we would like to take this time to invite you to join us in a collective breath – a moment to define the moment we are in, discern what choices are best for us, and direct our efforts back to working together with trust and grace.
While we wait for meetings and decisions that have not yet occurred our calling is to be the church here and now. What follows are our commitments about how we will conduct ourselves in North Alabama as we approach the 2024 General Conference.
Definition: state or describe exactly in nature, scope, or meaning of; mark out the boundary or limits of
First and foremost, we are dealing with complex issues and diverse perspectives, but it is imperative that you know there is a place for you here in the North Alabama Conference, now and in the future. At this time, our goal is not resolving doctrinal disagreements, but setting a viable path for restoration, resolution, and renewal.
We acknowledge that trust has broken down throughout our worldwide denomination and between us, but within the bounds of the North Alabama Annual Conference, we hope to restore trust. There is much that is out of our control, but we are responsible for the ways we treat one another. Moving forward in North Alabama, we commit ourselves to the following principles: (1) We will continue to follow our polity as set forth in the Book of Discipline; (2)We will not demonize one another over differing beliefs; (3)We will never seek to punish or coerce – financially or otherwise – for a spirit led decision to disaffiliate or remain; and (4)We will respect existing convictions and views, including during appointment processes.
Definition: perceive in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding
As people of faith we are called to seek the will of God. Each of us must make a spirit-led decision regarding what we are called to do and where we may best serve as disciples of Christ. This will require praying for guidance, understanding the issues at hand, seeking further information, reflecting, and determining where God is leading us into the future This task is neither easy nor fast. We ask you to take your time and wholeheartedly engage in the discernment process rather than deciding out of frustration or fear. While we sincerely hope that you all will choose to stay with us in the North Alabama Conference, we trust you to make that choice for yourself and will respect your decisions without judgment. We encourage you to use the resources available on the conference website to help open a conversation in your congregations, communities, and homes and to help facilitate the discernment process.
Definition: aim in a particular direction; focus or concentrate (one’s attention, efforts, or feelings) on
We admittedly face a difficult task, but there is nothing too great for our God. As we move forward, we are reminded that “Wesleyan emphasis upon the Christian Life – faith and love put into practice – has been the hallmark of those traditions now incorporated into The United Methodist Church.” (Book of Discipline, ¶ 102). We hold firm to those traditions and seek to lead with love and faith. As you ponder the issues that face us and begin the steps toward discernment, we ask you to consider: What does it mean to be a Christian? To be United Methodist? To be part of the North Alabama Conference
Finally, we ask that each and every one of us be engaged in determining our future. This includes abiding by certain tenets: 1) remembering first our duty as servants of Christ; (2) actively seeking discernment; 3) declining to engage in gossip; (4) avoiding casting judgment; and 5) not being afraid to ask questions and express concerns. Remember, there is no “us” versus “them” – there is only “we.” And we envision a future where we can remain a connected, Christ-centered community of disciples that honors, and values, our differences.
Bishop Debbie Wallace-Padgett
Rev. Bill Brunson, co-chair
Rev. Brian Erickson, co-chair
Rev. Nathan Carden
Rev. Sherill Clontz
Rev. Rick Owen
Rev. Tom Parrish
Rev. Donald Smith
Rev. Keith Thompson
- The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church is available at www.umc.org/en/content/is-the-book-of-discipline-available-online
- The Call to Prayer and Discernment document is available at www.umcna.org/discernment