By Chris Ritter
I am often approached by people seeking information on the options that will become available once the Separation Protocol is approved. No one can say with 100% clarity what the future might hold because so many decisions are yet to be made. There will be splintering, for sure. On the traditional side, some large congregations are seeking an independent future. On the Progressive side, there is a tiny Liberation Methodist Connexion that may or may not become a separate denomination. For most rank-and-file United Methodists, however, the options will be two: The post-separation United Methodist Church or the Global Methodist Church.
So far, there are two competing visions for the future of the post-separation UMC. The first is an effort on the part of Progressives to shape the remaining institution around the concepts of intersectional justice. This is the "Out of Chaos... Creation Group." The other vision is captured in a working document shared by a group of bishops that calls for a regionalized, theological "big tent." This more recent proposal seems to be aimed at keeping Centrists and Traditionalists in the UMC.
The post-separation United Methodist Church will go through an undetermined period of adjustment following separation. We can anticipate a decided shift in the Progressive direction. This will show up initially in terms of theological emphasis, marriage and sexuality standards, and advocacy for abortion rights. A proposed re-write of UM Social Principles provides a preview. District, annual conference and jurisdictional maps will eventually need to be adjusted in light of the new demographic realities. There will also likely need to be further attempts to right-size the general agencies in light of separation and decline.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association and GMC Transitional Leadership Council have prepared both a draft Book of Doctrines and Discipline AND a transitional Discipline that will be in place until a Convening General Conference can be held in late 2023 or early 2024. Walter Fenton estimates that 3,000-5,000 congregations in the U.S. will join the new denomination initially, with perhaps another 1,000 joining a bit later. These numbers include handful or two of U.S. annual conferences that will likely take a 57%+ vote to opt into the new denomination. There will likely be significant numbers of Methodists overseas joining the new connection, but these numbers are impossible to calculate. It is fair to say the new denomination will be distinctly global in nature.
Here is a simple chart I put together that seeks to compare the two primary branches that will flow from approval of the Separation Protocol (should that happen at General Conference in August/September 2022.) Information about the Global Methodist Church is based on the draft Book of Doctrines and Discipline and these provisions will not be enacted unless and until adopted by a convening conference. In the meantime, the Global Methodist Church will be governed by the Transitional BOD which is much closer to what we have today.
critter1969 | May 21, 2021 at 9:38 am | Tags: GMC, Protocol, Separation, UMC | Categories: General Conference, Separation Protocol, Uncategorized, United Methodist Renewal | URL: https://wp.me/p3sc8U-5Vj
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