Frequently Asked Questions
Please note that this is a work in progress.
These questions and answers are being perfected through collective wisdom and community feedback.
1. Why is UM-Forward asking the UMC to separate, isn’t that being divisive?
The true source of division in the church is the unwillingness to accept a part of God’s family as equally beloved, called, and celebrated in the fullness of our lives. After decades of sincere effort to heal that divide, separating is the only option for creating a healthy future for all involved.
2. Why is UM-Forward only proposing a separation? Why not try to repair the UMC?
For nearly five decades, LGBTQIA+ and ally United Methodists have labored with great effort to create opportunities for authentic repair in the UMC. Much has been sacrificed in the process, including many LGBTQIA+ lives and livelihoods. The passing of the Traditional Plan ended any reasonable belief that such repair is possible within the structure’s current form.
3. Why is The N.E.W Plan not as detailed as other plans?
While the details of many other plans were drafted behind closed doors by handpicked or a self-chosen few, we believe that the details of the future of Methodism should be worked out in a representative and transparent fashion. Our main goal is to establish a Transitional Council that collaboratively develops the Plan of Separation according to the values of self-determination, equitable distribution of general church assets, restorative justice, and reparations. Each new expression of Methodism will have the freedom to envision and structure themselves as they feel called. Therefore, we chose to focus on general principles as opposed to imposing and/or constraining the future of new expressions.
4. What will happen to the institutions that UMC supports, such as the hospitals and seminaries?
Annual Conferences will need to adapt their operation to sustainable levels supported by the new denomination of their choosing. General church assets are to be divided equitably to prevent further harm to be done to local churches. Historically marginalized and particularly vulnerable churches, as determined jointly by the General Commission on Religion and Race and the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, are to be set up for success worldwide. Injustices of colonialism, institutional racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, and misogyny are repaired through financial re-investment, restorative justice, and reparations (General Principles 8; 9).
5. What will happen to the institutions that UMC supports, such as the hospitals and seminaries?
Institutions that are not already operating as independent organizations from the UMC may become independent or choose to merge or dissolve. Independent organizations may choose to affiliate with a new denomination according to the decision of their governing bodies.
6. What will happen to the United Methodist Women?
General agencies would operate as independent, 501(c)3 organizations according to U.S. law, with their own self-perpetuating boards of directors, and will retain their current liabilities, assets and reserves. Some agencies may choose to merge or dissolve. Their services could be offered to new denominations through agreement as negotiated between each agency and each new denomination (General Principles 6).
7. What is the difference between the proposed new Progressive and Liberationist denominations? They seem to have the same or similar values, so why can’t they be in the same denomination together?
While there are many overlapping values between the two, Liberationists differ significantly in our foundational practice of faith and vision for the church. While Progressives may be defined by a desire to include all people in the church’s current form, Liberationists are interested in radically reimagining the ways we relate to one another and the world. We desire to be a church where the marginalized are centered, power is redistributed, and we are free to enflesh radical actions of prophetic love in solidarity with movements for justice taking place globally.
8. What if my church or AC decides to join one new denomination, but later wants to switch? Is that possible and how?
With sensitivity to the varying needs across the connection, individual congregations would be granted sufficient time to transition — until the special General Conference held prior to 2024 (General Principles 4.a; 11). Terms of Disaffiliation/Affiliation after the special called General Conference will be determined by the criteria and governance of each new denomination.
9. When and how would existing ACs decide to join a new denomination?
Each Annual Conference would determine their affiliation through a majority vote held at their Annual Conference meeting before the special called General Conference to be convened prior to 2024 (General Principles 4.a).
10. Is it possible for the CCs to join one of the new denominations?
Yes, Central Conferences are encouraged to affiliate with the denomination that most aligns with their vision, mission, and values.
11. Will any of the new denominations be allowed to keep the “United Methodist” name and/or logo?
The United Methodist Church name and logo are trademarked. Some variation of the name might be retained by the new denominations, but each denomination will determine their own name.
12. Will the new denominations have new Books of Discipline?
Each new denomination will determine how much of the Book of Discipline is preserved for their use. Generally speaking, the criteria to be considered a legitimate denomination may include: recognized creed and form of worship, definite and distinct ecclesiastical government, formal code of doctrine and discipline, and/or prescribed training and organization of ordained ministers. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that some form of a “book of discipline” would be offered by each denomination as an organizing and accountability resource.
13. Where will the UMC bishops and DSs go if we split into four new denominations?
Bishops and District Superintendents are clergy persons empowered to self-determine their affiliation (General Principles 4; 4.c). The episcopacy and superintendency roles are to be determined by each new denomination.
14. I’m ready to join a new Methodist denomination now. Is it possible to begin organizing before GC2020?
New Methodist denominations are going to be formally instituted at the GC2020 and continuously shaped during the Transitional Period of separation and dissolution of the UMC as we know it. We recommend that you start (or continue) to strengthen your relationship with groups aligned and practicing of a particular vein of Methodism. UM-Forward has rooted its Wesleyan work in Liberationist vision, mission, values, and we would appreciate your partnership on the journey of co-liberation. Join our movement here: UM-Forward.org.