A theologically diverse group of United Methodist Church clergy and laity have called on the denomination to create a “gracious” means of allowing congregations to leave.
Next February, the UMC will hold a special session of General Conference to attempt to end their internal debate over the denomination’s stance on homosexuality.
In an open letter released earlier this week, clergy who identify as “progressive,” “centrist,” and “traditionalist” have come together to ask that the Church create a “gracious and equitable process for exit which can be used by any congregation desiring to do so.”
The open letter argues that whatever decision may be reached by the UMC next year, it is inevitable that some congregations will desire to leave the denomination.
“We urge that such a process for exit be adopted prior to the consideration of any proposed model or solution,” stated the letter.
“A well-defined process which is gracious and equitable will provide consistent guidelines for bishops and their cabinets, annual conference trustees and local congregations across United Methodism as transitions are determined and negotiated.”
The letter laid out a few things the signatories believe this “gracious” exit policy should include, notably allowing a congregation to exit the UMC with their assets and property and a payment provision that is fair to both the annual conference and congregation.
“Approving a gracious and equitable process before final decisions are made offers the best possibility of helping the ‘winning side’ avoid the temptation to take advantage of their majority position by imposing insurmountable or punitive obstacles for congregations who elect to end their relationship with the UMC,” added the letter.
While the open letter originated in the UMC’s West Ohio Conference, many others outside of the regional body have signed onto the letter.
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Source: Christian Post