Frequently Asked Questions
Is Church of the Saviour part of a denomination?
Yes, we are a part of The United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist Church (hereafter UMC) is a global denomination with a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Since 1968, UMC have always been a big tent church…a holy communion of different races, and ethnicities, cultures, and perspectives united by the Holy Spirit, rooted in scripture, driven by the mission of Christ, and bearing the good news of an unmerited grace that changes lives and transforms communities.
What is the Book of Disciple?
The Book of Discipline reflects our Wesleyan way of serving Christ through doctrine and disciplined Christian life. We are a worldwide denomination united by doctrine, discipline, and mission through our connectional covenant.
What is General Conference and why does it matter?
The Constitution of The UMC is designed with checks and balances built into the structure. The structure is defined by The Constitution found in Part 1 of The Book of Discipline. The Constitution assigns duties among bodies that include the General Conference.
The General Conference is the primary legislative body of The UMC and is the ONLY entity authorized to speak officially for the church. It comprises of delegates divided equally between clergy and laity. General Conference customarily meets every four years to determine legislation related to connection matters, but can (as in recent years) meet at other times for special called sessions.
Constitutional duties of the General Conference:
Conditions, privileges, and duties of church membership.
Duties of clergy.
Powers and duties of jurisdictional, central, annual, missionary (and missions), district, charge conferences and congregational meetings.
The organization and promotion of church administrative work.
The powers and duties of bishops.
Authorizes the official hymnal and book of worship
Directs connectional enterprises and enacts other operational legislation.
What is the issue facing our denomination?
For several decades, the UMC has been debating biblical and theological interpretations of homosexuality. Because we have come to a theological impasse, in the most recent years, there has been a growing consensus within the denomination that the best course of action is a gracious separation.
Several plans for separation have been proposed to try to provide a healthy theological home for those who significantly differ in their understanding:
Traditionalists - those who welcome LGBTQ+ persons but who will prohibit marriage and ordination of persons in same sex relationships.
Progressives - those who advocate for full inclusion, including marriage and ordination of persons in same sex relationships.
Centrists - those who allow for differences of opinion
Having shared these groupings, immediately, I ask for forgiveness acknowledging that these terms are an oversimplification of reality. However, they are currently the best way to summarize the opinions and options that have emerged to date. It is recognized that within these groups and even within individuals within these groups there exists more nuanced viewpoints.
What happened in 2016 at General Conference?
General Conference gathered in 2016. The work of this body was completed, budgets passed, agency leaders were voted in office, as well as other work of the church. Also taking place was the decision to push the pause button on the denominations debate related to sexuality. The delegation voted 428 to 405 to accept the recommendation of the Council of Bishops to delay a debate on homosexuality at this gathering of the denomination’s top legislative assembly. The bishops asked for the body’s permission to name a special commission that would completely examine and possibly recommend revisions of every paragraph in the Book of Discipline related to human sexuality. The bishops also suggested they might call a special General Conference in 2018 or 2019 to deal with proposals.
What does the Book of Discipline say about homosexuality?
The 2016 Book of Discipline statements are available here: Homosexuality: Full Book of Discipline statements.
When was the special General Conference?
A Special Conference was held in February 2019 which was to address growing concerns around LGBTQ+ inclusion. The 2019 General Conference resulted in further tension and division within the denomination. The Traditional Plan was passed by the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. This means our current statements about homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ persons have not fundamentally changed. The changes proposed by the Traditional Plan are mostly about ordination of LGBTQ clergy and how to resolve issues when a clergy violates our human sexuality stances by, for example, performing a same-sex marriage.
Before the 2019 Special Session of General Conference closed, a motion was passed (405-395) to request a decision from the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan's legislative petitions. We were to receive these changes or results at the next scheduled General Conference that was to happen in 2020.
What is the Protocol?
The Protocol is a formal agreement signed by the persons involved in the mediated negotiation which records the terms of the resolution agreed to by the participants. The signatories to the Protocol have agreed to support the development and implementation of legislation necessary to implement the terms of the Protocol.
What must occur for the terms of the Protocol to be implemented?
For the terms of the Protocol to be implemented, legislation incorporating its terms will have to be presented to the 2020 General Conference and such legislation will have to be adopted by the delegates to the 2020 General Conference. Such legislation is currently being drafted and will be presented to one or more annual conferences of The United Methodist Church in special session for adoption as a petition to the 2020 General Conference. Under ¶ 507.6 of the Book of Discipline, legislation from an annual conference must be adopted by March 20, 2020 in order to be considered by the 2020 General Conference. Alternatively, such legislation can be scheduled at the discretion of the Committee on Reference or moved as a substitute for a petition already pending before the 2020 General Conference.
When will General Conference happen?
The United Methodist Commission on the General Conference announced that the 2020 General Conference is further postponed until May of 2024. The Commission on the General Conference provided the reasons for its decision to postpone the conference in its press release statement. It was noted that they will look to the Judicial Council for clarity regarding the processes for the General Conference in preparation for 2024.
What is Church of the Saviour’s future within the UMC?
The United Methodist Church (hereafter UMC) is a global denomination with a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The UMC have always been a big tent church…a holy communion of different races, and ethnicities, cultures, and perspectives united by the Holy Spirit, rooted in scripture, driven by the mission of Christ, and bearing the good news of an unmerited grace that changes lives and transforms communities. Whether you consider yourself liberal, evangelical, progressive, traditionalist, middle of the road, conservative, centrist, or something else, there is a place for you in the UMC. And to be more specific, there is a place for you at Church of the Saviour UM.
As our denomination waits in limbo for General Conference to happen (postponed until 2024) we still have a mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the church, the community, and the world. This means, as followers of Christ, we are to carry the hope of the resurrection into the world. We are bearers of the good news of Jesus Christ. We are those who are called to tear down the walls of hate, division and fear, and to be builders of authentic, loving community. We are those who are called to offer and restore hope where there is brokenness and pain. As baptized believers, we are called to “renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, repent of our sin and accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” In short, we are to do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.
Our current pastoral leadership, servant leadership board, and lay delegates have not organized, discussed or worked toward any plan to disaffiliate from the UMC. We are aware a new denomination is forming (May 1), but at this point, our leadership plans to remain faithful to the mission of the UMC and we will wait for more information when General Conference gathers in 2024.