Letter to First Methodist Tallassee regarding the Protocol for Separation

To my First United Methodist family,

Many of you have seen news reports regarding a plan for the United Methodist Church to separate over the coming year. I wanted to write this letter to offer more information and to give some insight as to how those plans might affect us as a local church.

What is this plan and where did it come from? Back in the summer of 2019, a group consisting of the leaders of many of the caucus groups in our denomination met and began negotiating a plan for dividing our denomination, recognizing that the ongoing conflict over the church’s position on human sexuality was untenable. Attorney Kenneth Feinberg offered his services pro bono as a mediator, and over the following months, this group worked on a proposal to send to General Conference in May of this year.

This proposal is just that: a proposal. It will be presented to General Conference in May, and that is the body that will decide whether or not it will become an official plan for separation. There are other plans for separation in addition to this proposal that will also be presented to the General Conference. What makes this proposal particularly newsworthy, however, is the fact that the leaders of the various caucus groups who were involved with the negotiation have pledged to support this proposal alone, rather than supporting any of the other plans submitted. This means that this proposal has a significant chance of being passed.

Here is a brief summary of the proposal: A new Methodist denomination will be formed for traditional United Methodists. Annual conferences can vote as a conference to join the new denomination. If an annual conference does not vote to do so by July 1, 2021 then by default it will remain a part of the United Methodist denomination. A local congregation that desires a different affiliation than its Annual Conference may vote to change affiliations while keeping their property and assets, as long as they conduct that vote before December, 3, 2024.
 
Following the formation of that new denomination, the post-separation United Methodist denomination will hold a special General Conference session to repeal the Traditional Plan that was passed in February of 2019 and to remove all other restrictive language related to human sexuality in the current Book of Discipline.
 
The complete Protocol was released on Friday, February 7 and it can be viewed here. You can find a full FAQ on the Protocol here.
 

Many of you are likely wondering what will happen next. Here is a timeline of the major upcoming events and what to be watching for regarding each of them:

  • General Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota (May 5-15)
    • Will the Proposal mentioned above pass? And what, if any, amendments are made to it?
  • Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference in Montgomery (June 7-9)
    • Should the Proposal pass General Conference, does our Annual Conference vote to remain in the post-separation UMC or join the new traditional denomination?
  • One-day Annual Conference Session in Andalusia (June 27)
    • This has been tentatively scheduled if needed to finalize any affiliation vote.

How do we respond as members here at First United Methodist of Tallassee? First, we should pray for our denomination and for all that will be taking place over the next few months and years. I hold out hope that amidst this conflict, God will raise up a new and revitalized Wesleyan movement in our world. Our culture needs the Wesleyan emphasis on the grace of God and on the holiness of heart and life that empowered the early Methodists to transform 18th century England and 19th century America.

Second, we should not be anxious or afraid. The local church is by far the most stable unit of any denomination. Do you realize that First United Methodist of Tallassee has been a part of four denominations throughout its history? The denominations change, but the local church here remains steady.

Third, and most important, we should remain passionately focused on our mission to make disciples for Jesus and to reach our community with the gospel. Regardless of what happens to the United Methodist denomination, that mission will remain unchanged. As I have said many times to myself and to others, there are many things in this whole drama that we have no control over, but we have full control over how we respond to God’s call to minister to our community. So let us focus on that call.

Many of you may have questions and concerns about all of this. I encourage you to call me or come by and speak with me. I’d be happy to answer questions or to simply listen. Let us be in prayer together over the next few months, and remind one another that God is still on His throne and is ever trustworthy.

In Christ,

Rev. Clint McBroom


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