The vision for the future of the Iowa United Methodist Church most notably includes a HOME FOR EVERYONE

The vision for the future of the Iowa United Methodist Church most notably includes a HOME FOR EVERYONE

September 21, 2022

This summer, your church may have been approached by people representing a new traditionalist Methodist denomination called the Global Methodist Church or representatives from the Wesley Covenant Association, who may have insinuated that your church should be in a hurry to discern its future. But there is NO HURRY for your church to rush through discernment.  

Churches have until December 31, 2023, to complete the disaffiliation process (including an annual conference vote being held in November 2023.) There is an inaccurate perception that the possibility of a new bishop in Iowa in 2023 means that the process or terms for disaffiliation could be significantly changed. This is a myth.  

This process belongs to the conference trustees, as per Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline (not the bishop.) The Annual Conference elects our conference trustees. 

If you need help advocating for your local church to remain in The United Methodist Church, here are some helpful resources and strategies. 

REVIEW OUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE 
First, let’s review the vision for the future that was laid out by the Iowa Annual Conference Appointive Cabinet and Bishop Laurie Haller, in consultation, conversation, and collaboration with a representative body of Iowa United Methodist traditional, centrist, and progressive compatibilists, the Ezekiel Team, and our Conference Boards of Trustees, Pensions, and Finance and Administration (CFA). 

The future is informed by Bishop Laurie’s “Vision 2032, where…  
  • Relationships are more important than theological convictions,  
  • Innovation, creativity, and imagination are more important than stagnation, rigidity, sacred cows, and the status quo, and  
  • Our primary focus is on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.  
As we “Lead Now and Into the Future,” we will… 
  1. Equip local congregations to do the ministry God is calling them to do, 
  1. Not ask anyone to act contrary to their convictions, understanding of scripture, or conscience 
  1. Not prevent anyone from doing the ministry God is calling them, so 
    a. Pastors can choose which weddings they officiate if it is two consenting adults who have been counseled 
    ​b. Church leadership, in consultation with their pastors, will be able to determine their policy regarding weddings 
As we “Lead Now and Into the Future,” we are a church committed to supporting your… 
  1. Evangelism 
  1. Faith journey 
  1. Relationship with God and Jesus 
  1. Social holiness with all of God’s creation 
So, your church can be committed to… 
  1. Inclusion 
  1. Connectionalism 
  1. Antiracism 
  1. Diversity 
  1. Climate care 
  1. Contextually driven ministry 
  1. Making hope real 
Without any changes or voting, your churches can continue to… 
  1. Keep doing what God is calling for you to do 
  1. Create new ministries that God is calling you to do 
We hold on to our Wesleyan heritage, believing… 
  1. The living core of the Christian faith is revealed in scripture: 
    a. Illuminated by tradition
    b. Vivified in personal experience, and  
    c. Confirmed by reason 
  1. We will continue to be guided by: 
    a. Our doctrinal standards 
    b. Our Baptismal Covenants  
    c. The Apostles Creed
  1. We are informed by the work set out in “Our Theological Task and embrace our expressions of theology through everything contained in our: 
    a. United Methodist Hymnal 
    b. Book of Worship 
    c. Songbooks 
BE REMINDED OF YOUR IDENTITY AS A UNITED METHODIST 
Recently, United Methodist Communications created a special presentation called  We are the church. Together that can be used to remind congregations of their identity as United Methodists while also inviting them to have constructive conversations about what they hope the future will bring, both for The UMC and their congregation. The presentation is built around the following themes from the #BeUMC Campaign. 
  • Making Disciples 
  • Belonging & Inclusion 
  • Influence, Connection, and Impact 
  • Experience of God Through The UMC 
Each theme section includes examples, Scripture readings, The Book of Discipline excerpts, and group discussion questions. You can also personalize the presentation to fit your unique ministry context. 

MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS OF DISAFFILIATION 
Next, let’s look at the process for leaving The United Methodist Church as defined by Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline. 
This process was confirmed by the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council on August 23, 2022. In its ruling (Decision 1449), the church’s high court said, “the process in ¶ 2548.2 may not be used as a pathway for local churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church.” As a result, the Judicial Council affirmed that “consequently, ¶2553 controls in matters of local church disaffiliation.” 
 

For Congregations wishing to explore disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church:   

  1. The cover letters from the Iowa Conference Board of Trustees that contains important dates for disaffiliating churches.
    a. Cover Letter for disaffiliations effective June 30, 2023
    b. Cover Letter for disaffiliations effective December 31, 2023
  2. The disaffiliation agreements, a legal document between the local church and the Conference Trustees.
    a. Disaffiliation Agreement for disaffiliations effective June 30, 2023
    b. Disaffiliation Agreement for disaffiliations effective December 31, 2023
  3. The 2016 Book of Discipline Paragraph 2553 which is the approved process for disaffiliation in regards to actions/inactions around same sex marriage.
  4. Wespath’s Way Forward FAQ The pension fund answers are very helpful in understanding what can and can’t be done at this time.
  5. Wespath's video and podcast explaining pension withdrawal liability payment.
  6. And, the Estimated Local Church Obligations form that is used to request an estimate of the church’s Unfunded Pension Lliability (UPL) and apportionment obligation. For more information regarding the UPL calculation process, go to the Board of Pensions Request for Estimated Local Church Obligations page.

For any additional questions, please email disaffiliation@iaumc.org.