Bishop Carter Calls Special Session of the WNC Annual Conference for Fall 2023

March 21, 2023

By: Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.

Dear Clergy and Laity of the WNC Conference,

This week, the Appointive Cabinet of the Western North Carolina Conference is meeting to discern and select clergy to be appointed to local churches next year. As a part of this work, the Cabinet will be appointing clergy to new communities of faith which are being started in areas where, because of disaffiliations, a United Methodist presence is wanted and needed. Already, groups of United Methodists have begun to meet in some of these areas.

We also celebrate the 80% of Western North Carolina churches who chose not to vote on leaving the denomination and who continue Christ’s mission in their communities and the world. Among these are a growing number of Lighthouse Churches. We are excited about the ways in which the Holy Spirit is guiding us into a future with hope.

We also want to take this time to announce the date of a fall virtual special session of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference.

The Virtual Special Session that will be held on May 6 was called in response to the request from churches departing to become independent congregations or members of other present or future denominations to begin to live into their futures. In the same manner, it will enable clergy to follow their calling to new ministries apart from The United Methodist Church. And in alignment with these departures, there shall no longer be meetings with WNCC churches where persons recruit members to depart from The United Methodist Church.

The fall special session is a response to churches who found they need more time for prayerful discernment about disaffiliation throughout the spring and summer. It also gives the small number of churches involved in the recently dismissed lawsuit against the Bishop and Conference additional time to work within the guidelines of paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline if they so choose.

Thus, in accordance with Paragraph 603.5 of the 2016 Book of Discipline and Rule 32 of the WNCC Rules of Order, and as your Resident Bishop, I am calling a Special Executive Session of Clergy Members at 9:00am and a Special Session of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference at 10:00am, to be held on Saturday, November 4, 2023. Both meetings will be held virtually.

The sole purpose of the called executive session of clergy members is to vote on clergy withdrawals. The sole purpose of the called session is to vote on the WNC Conference Board of Trustees' recommendations for churches choosing to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church through the authorized process outlined in Paragraph 2553.

Churches will need to submit their originating letter of intent by July 1, 2023, and hold their church conference by September 15, 2023, to be a part of this November 4 special session. Churches will need to provide salary and benefits for their current pastor through June 30, 2024, and must finalize their disaffiliation including payment of all costs by December 31, 2023.

Clergy who state a desire to depart must also state their intentions to their District Superintendent prior to August 1, 2023, and submit a formal letter of withdrawal (elders & deacons) or discontinuance (local pastors) by September 15, 2023.

Our desire continues to be that no local church or pastor departs from The United Methodist Church. We also pray God’s blessings upon those who have made this choice. And both special sessions will conclude with a liturgy of resurrection and hope for new ministries that are birthed in this season of change.

We ask your prayers as the Bishop and Appointive Cabinet continue their appointment-making work. We do so out of a desire for vital, innovative congregations who will offer the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.

The Peace of the Lord,

+Ken Carter
Resident Bishop
Western North Carolina Conference
The United Methodist Church

Download the PDF Letter HERE.

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