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US annual conferences cannot simply go away the United Methodist Church, guidelines high court docket

(RNS) — No, an annual convention in the US can’t simply up and go away the United Methodist Church. A minimum of not but.

Whereas the denomination’s E-book of Self-discipline has provisions for particular person church buildings wishing to depart the United Methodist Church with their properties, there’s nothing inside church regulation that might enable an annual convention — one of many United Methodist Church’s 53 regional networks of church buildings and ministries inside the US — to do the identical, in line with the denomination’s Judicial Council.

The Judicial Council dominated Tuesday (Might 10) that solely the Basic Convention, the denomination’s world decision-making physique, can decide the method and situations for annual conferences to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church.

And the Basic Convention hasn’t performed that. 

“There isn’t any foundation in Church regulation for any annual convention to undertake stopgap insurance policies, go resolutions, take a vote, or act unilaterally for the aim of eradicating itself from The United Methodist Church,” Decision 1444 reads.


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The choice by the Judicial Council, the denomination’s high court docket, comes simply over per week after the launch of the Global Methodist Church, a brand new denomination fashioned by theologically conservative Methodists.

The title and emblem of the International Methodist Church. Picture courtesy of International Methodist Church

It additionally comes forward of annual conferences’ yearly conferences, which occur in Might and June.

A minimum of two annual conferences — Northwest Texas and South Georgia — had been set to think about resolutions to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church at their conferences this summer season, the Judicial Council famous in its resolution. The Northwest Texas Annual Convention also approved a nonbinding decision final 12 months indicating it deliberate to depart the United Methodist Church for a conservative denomination ought to the Basic Convention go a proposed Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace by way of Separation, in line with United Methodist Information Service.

And the Bulgaria-Romania Provisional Annual Convention already has voted to depart and be a part of the International Methodist Church over its bishop’s objections, in line with United Methodist Information Service.

Bulgaria-Romania Bishop Patrick Streiff has requested the Judicial Council rule on whether or not an annual convention in one of many denomination’s central conferences — together with these in Europe, Africa and the Philippines — has the authority to vote to separate from the United Methodist Church. That query stays on the council’s spring docket.

Keith Boyette, who chairs the Transitional Management Council of the International Methodist Church and can step into the position of its chief govt subsequent month, informed Faith Information Service he was “very disillusioned” by the Judicial Council resolution.

The Cross and Flame is the official logo of the United Methodist Church. Image courtesy of the United Methodist Church

The Cross and Flame is the official emblem of the United Methodist Church. Picture courtesy of United Methodist Church

The ruling, he mentioned, will result in the form of litigation the 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders who negotiated a proposed Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace by way of Separation — together with Boyette — had hoped to keep away from. Now church buildings and annual conferences doubtlessly will problem the denomination’s belief clause, which maintains that the denomination — not the church buildings or their conferences — personal church properties, he mentioned.

“We now have labored so laborious to have a unique witness to the world,” mentioned Boyette, referencing the challenges confronted by different denominations which have break up over differing beliefs concerning the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ members.

The 2020 Basic Convention was set to think about the proposed protocol, which might create a pathway for church buildings and annual conferences to depart with their properties to kind new denominations. Conservative United Methodists had introduced preparations to launch the International Methodist Church after a Basic Convention vote.

However when the Basic Convention was pushed again to 2024 by the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Methodist Church pushed up its timeline.

“Sadly, what’s transpiring is precisely what we’ve tried to keep away from by way of the protocol,” Boyette mentioned.


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