The United Methodist Church is at a crossroad that potentially divides the church over significant theological differences which include:
- the authority of scripture
- the deity of Christ
- the nature of salvation and
- matters of human sexuality and related ordination.
First United Methodist of Palestine is a traditional, Wesleyan congregation that is committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Because of the slow, steady drift of the United Methodist Church from its historic Christian mission, First United Methodist Church, along with hundreds of other churches in the Texas Annual Conference, is faced with the choice of whether to remain in, or disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church.
“Navigating the Waters” is a phrase our Texas Annual Conference and First United Methodist leaders are using for this time of discernment and decision for our denomination, our conference, our church, our clergy and our laity.
Over the past decades conflicting views on the authority and enforcement of the Book of Discipline within the United Methodist Church, has caused division within the United Methodist Church.
Key issues contributing to the division are:
- Governing rules and regulations in the Book of Discipline have not been followed and enforced regarding:
- Performing same sex marriage in the church
- Allowing professed (practicing) LGBTQAI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) preachers to be ordained in the church
- In addition to other issues
The Book of Discipline has not been changed, but the existing rules and guidelines are not being enforced. There have been no sanctions under the some Bishops for churches that are allowing these practices. There is a significant movement among more liberal United Methodist church members and clergy to revise the Book of Discipline to allow in-church same sex marriages and ordination of professing and practicing LGBTQAI+ candidates to take place. Conservative church members see the existing Book of Discipline wording as being consistent with traditional Biblical teaching and want to preserve it’s meaning without contemporary interpretation. We are faced with a choice: to remain in the changing United Methodist church, or to withdraw from the United Methodist church and join the new Global Methodist church.
Should our church disaffiliate with the United Methodist Church, we would likely affiliate with a new denomination known as the Global Methodist Church.
The Global Methodist Church was formed May 1, 2022 as a result of the division, and takes a more conservative approach to the Methodist foundation. A new, more concise Book of Doctrine and Discipline has been written to emphasize this conservatism. The first Global Methodist church conference will be held 12-18 months after the May, 2022 formation date. One of the functions of that conference will be to ratify this new Book of Doctrine and Discipline.
Our current Bishop Jones is retiring at the end of 2022. He has set forth a generous disaffiliation package for churches wanting to disaffiliate; Randy will tell us about the details and cost of disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church.