Now that the WCA has founded the Global Methodist Church (GMC), many people are wondering how that will impact the UMC. The truth is no one knows for sure. It seems obvious that many churches will choose to disaffiliate from (leave) the UMC, but the details of how that will be accomplished have not been determined. They will not be determined until our next General Conference which has now been postponed until 2024 due to the Covid pandemic and the backlog of visa applications for people wanting to attend. For more details see the April 28 issue of UM News Daily Digest.
One thing seems somewhat clear. The GMC will provide a home for Methodists who are theologically conservative and who believe that homosexuality is a sin. As they leave, the UMC will find it much easier to be fully inclusive and fully affirming of all people.
As we approach Annual Conference this year, it is unlikely that any major issues involving the split in our denomination will come up for consideration. The legislation adopted at Annual Conference 2020 allowing churches to leave makes that quite expensive for the leaving congregation. It is generally thought that most of the churches that want to affiliate with the GMC will not do so until after General Conference 2024 when the cost of leaving will likely be less.
The Judicial Council has ruled early in May that an entire Annual Conference cannot disaffiliate.
Our North Alabama Conference is likely to receive a new bishop when the SE Jurisdictional Conference meets in the fall (Nov. 2-4) of this year. Bishop Wallace-Padgett has served North Alabama for 10 years and an appointment to bishop for more than 8 years is unusual. There are 5 slots for bishop that will be open and there is a possibility that less than 5 will be filled. Bishops may serve more than one Annual Conference as Bishop Wallace-Padgett now does or some Annual Conferences may be combined. We will not know how this sorts out until Jurisdictional Conference. There is nothing to be gained by speculating about what may happen in the future, but everything to be gained by focusing on the “eternal now” and doing our best to act with love
Many things are up in the air and will likely remain so until 2024 but there is no reason to be anxious about what may happen. We can continue to grow into the people and church that we want to become by loving wholly, serving openly and living in hope just like we have always tried to do.