Disaffiliation Process and Information
The Conference Board of Trustees has adopted a process for disaffiliation to implement Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline as adopted by the 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. Paragraph 2553 identifies and charges the Conference Trustees with oversight of terms and conditions of disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church.
This process and the subsequent Disaffiliation Agreement both follow ¶ 2553 of the 2019 Book of Discipline. The steps include the instructions that to proceed, a two-thirds majority of the professing members of the local church present and voting at the church conference approve the resolution. The Disaffiliation Agreement ultimately reached between the church and the Conference Trustees must then be ratified by the voting members of the Western NC Annual Conference.
Paragraph 2553 requires that prior to or by the disaffiliation date, a local church pay to the Annual Conference any unpaid apportionments for the 12 months immediately prior to the disaffiliation date, an additional 12 months of apportionments, plus unfunded pension obligations, direct-bill obligations, and other liabilities.
Churches that wish to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church should submit a letter requesting disaffiliation signed by 2-3 church officers to their District Superintendent (i.e., trustees, church council chair, finance, S/PPRC, etc.)
Important to note:
- No church is required to vote or required to consider a vote to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. A vote is only necessary when and if a church wants to disaffiliate.
- There is no hurry or need to rush the process of discernment if your church is considering disaffiliation.
- Book of Discipline ¶ 2553
- Q&A on the Disaffiliation Process
- Q&A on Disaffiliation Financial Obligations
- Wespath: Benefit Plan Opportunities for Churches that Disaffiliate from the UMC
- Wespath: Clergy Withdrawals - Impact on Benefits when Surrendering Credentials
- Wespath: FAQs Regarding Church and Conference Disaffiliations
- Wespath: Contingencies for Potential UMC restructure or Disruption
- Wespath: Additional Information regarding March 2022 Judicial Council Ruling
- Wespath: Detail Q&As for Conferences and Clergy
- Archives: Disaffiliation Process Historical Records
Disaffiliation Procedure for The Western NC Conference for Local Churches
1. The Local Church communicates with the District Superintendent that they desire to disaffiliate under paragraph 2553. This communication is to be by written letter signed by 2-3 church leaders (i.e., trustees, admin council, finance, S/PPRC, etc.).
2. Information Meeting. The District Superintendent meets with the following leaders: pastor, lay leader, council chair, finance chair, trustees chair, SPRC chair, lay delegate.
3. Continuing United Methodist Church Presentation. The District Superintendent may request that he/she present information about the continuing UMC to the congregation.
4.The Local Church is asked to provide certain legal, financial, and archival documents to the District Superintendent and Conference Trustees.
5.The Pastor provides in writing his/her intentions as to whether he/she will remain with The United Methodist Church, retire, withdraw to unite with another denomination, or surrender credentials to continue to lead the disaffiliated church.
6. The Local Church sends the District Superintendent a letter requesting a Church Conference for the purpose of disaffiliation. The request should come from church council (or leadership team). The Superintendent must schedule the Church Conference within 120 days of the Superintendent's call for the Church Conference.
7. The Local Church prepares a disaffiliation resolution to be voted upon at the Church Conference.
8. The Church Conference is held. The Disaffiliation Resolution must be approved by 2/3 professing members in attendance. If disaffiliation is approved, the matter is turned over to the Conference Trustees. If disaffiliation is not approved, the process concludes.
9. The Conference Chancellor turns the information over to the Conference Trustees and works with the Local Church to prepare a Disaffiliation Agreement and an Annual Conference Petition prior to April 1, for it to be included on the agenda of the current year's Annual Conference.
10. The Annual Conference votes upon the disaffiliation.
11. The Church completes any requirements of the Disaffiliation Agreement.
12. The Local Church obtains new state and federal tax identification numbers and applies for its own tax exemption. It can no longer use the UMC umbrella for tax payment exemption nor qualified to receive charitable contributions.
13. A Final Charge Conference must be held for the exiting church to approve property and debt transfers from the UMC entity to its new church entity.
14. The Local Church changes the name and removes the Cross and Flame logo and the mention of The UMC from signage, websites, domain names, stationary, etc.
After A Church Votes to Disaffiliate
- Payment: If a church votes to disaffiliate, the payment obligation must be made by the date of disaffiliation. No payment will be received before the vote of Annual Conference. Paragraph 2553 requires payment in full prior to or on the disaffiliation date.
The 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church adopted a disaffiliation agreement allowing United Methodist churches to leave the denomination through the end of 2023 "for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference, or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues which follow.”
The Conference Board of Trustees' Process and the subsequent Disaffiliation Agreement follow ¶ 2553.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Clergy person be part of both The United Methodist Church and the Global Methodist Church?
No. The Judicial Council ruled in 1993 that The Book of Discipline has no provision allowing an ordained United Methodist clergy to hold membership simultaneously in another denomination.
Who has to approve the withdrawal?
The withdrawal letter, certificate of conference membership, license, and/or ordination credentials are received by the Conference Secretary and reported to the Executive Clergy Session of the WNC Conference.
When a clergy person withdraws, what is their relationship with the church they are presently serving?
The effective date of the withdrawal marks an immediate change in the relationship between the clergy and congregation. Those who withdraw can no longer serve as a pastor of a United Methodist congregation nor reside in a United Methodist parsonage.
Can I request a copy of my records/files to be sent to officials in another Denomination?
Records/files are not shared with other Denominations. Upon request of the clergy person, The Office of Ministerial Services can submit a letter of status and standing to other Denomination Officials. Clergy designated as in “good standing” have completed ethics training, are current with Course of Study requirements [applies only to Local Pastors], and are not under formal Complaint.
If I withdraw from the WNC Conference, can I continue on the Conference health insurance plan?
Clergy on the Conference health insurance plan at the point of withdrawal from the WNC Conference can continue on the Conference plan for up to 18 months on continuation coverage with full cost being paid by the participant.
What happens to my health insurance benefits when I retire from my new church outside the WNC Conference?
WNC Conference retirement health insurance benefits are provided for clergy who retire from ministry in the WNC Conference. If a clergy person does not retire from the WNC Conference, the clergy person is not eligible for retirement health insurance benefits through the WNC Conference.
I am already retired. What happens to my annual Duke Endowment gift if I leave The UMC?
According to The Duke Endowment, this gift is restricted to retired clergy of The United Methodist Church. Surrendering credentials would forfeit receipt of this grant.
What is disaffiliation in The UMC?
United Methodists throughout the world are bound together in a connectional covenant in which we support and hold each other accountable for faithful discipleship and the mission of Jesus Christ. UMC congregations are not in an independent church. Each local church congregation and property is connected for the benefit of the denomination, each church, and the ministry and mission of all at home and throughout the world. Disaffiliation means separating from the WNC Annual Conference (WNCC) and the entire UMC.
The 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of the UMC adopted paragraph ¶2553 in the Book of Discipline – Disaffiliation of a Local Church Over Issues Related to Human Sexuality. Because of the current deep conflict within the UMC around issues of human sexuality, a local church shall have a limited right, under the provisions of this paragraph, to disaffiliate from the denomination for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference, or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues which follow.
What if my church seeks disaffiliation, but I want to stay in the continuing UMC?
Everyone may find a home in the UMC. Your pastor or District Superintendent, and the Conference will work with you and others to find a UMC home that works well for you.