Bishop Carter shares preliminary results of disaffiliation vote in letter to the Western NC Conference
May 8, 2023
May 8, 2023
Greetings, Clergy and Laity of the Western North Carolina Conference,
I write to report preliminary results of the vote held during this morning’s special called session of the Western NC Annual Conference on the requests from 192 churches in our Conference to disaffiliate under protocols established by Paragraph 2553 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline.
This day is filled with a range of emotions and whose meaning we may grasp only over time. As one who has journeyed with many of you for my entire adult life, this is a day I have invested a great deal of time, energy, prayer, and negotiation to avoid in hopes of finding some path of reconciliation for all involved.
Nevertheless, a segment of our Conference seeks disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church due to their beliefs surrounding the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons within the UMC. Statistically, departing members represent roughly 15 percent of our Conference. After much wrestling on this topic, the time for a vote came this weekend on allowing that segment to depart and retain church property and assets where they worship.
Following presentations by myself and the cabinet, the vast majority of votes were submitted electronically through a secure system. In addition, roughly 50 paper ballots were requested in advance, with a requirement that they be return-postmarked no later than today, May 8.
The following are preliminary vote totals from the online votes:
Approve Disaffiliation for 192 churches – approximately 96%
Disapprove Disaffiliation for 192 – approximately 4%
As the requested paper ballots total less than 50, we are publishing a provisional finding that the motion passes and these 192 churches will continue forward under Paragraph 2553 to disaffiliate. The final vote count will be posted to our website no later than May 12, 2023. We can expect there will be a lesser number of churches within our Conference who will request disaffiliation this November before the provisions of Paragraph 2553 expire.
To those who have requested to depart, I wish you the grace, peace and mercy of the Lord. By the action of this Annual Conference, you will be free to be an independent church or a part of some other denomination. We trust you will find your way and continue to be a church of Jesus Christ.
I invite us all to recommit ourselves to the teachings of Jesus, our Savior, our Healer, our Teacher, our Lord, our Friend. We can continue to be a church for others; God using us as the instruments by which the spirit is poured out on all flesh. In this there is strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
To The United Methodist Church, our work continues and is far from complete. We will keep pushing, and we will remain open to being pushed, to bring God’s Kingdom here on Earth. In all this, I offer a prayer of gratitude for all those who undertake this work with loving hearts.
The Peace of the Lord,
+Bishop Ken Carter
Resident Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church
Download a PDF of Bishop Carter's letter.
Read an article by Director of Communications, Aimee Yeager, on the May 6 special called session of Annual Conference, what brought us to this place and where we go from here.