This month of May 2023 may prove to be one of the most momentous in the history of Methodism- perhaps the most momentous since the 1968 merger of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Church. Some conferences have already held special annual conference sessions to vote on the dis-affiliations of hundreds of United Methodist Churches. However, this month many conferences will hold their vote.
On May 22, 2023, at 7:00 pm in the evening, our Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference will hold a special meeting online to vote. Dis-affiliations will be the only item on the agenda. Notice that the meeting is online only. It can be viewed, as I understand, on the conference website. Voting delegates (already elected by individual churches/charges) will be Zoom call only access. I will be sending a link before the meeting for the viewing site if you are interested, or you can
simply pull up the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference website to access.
As I said, some of our neighboring conferences had their vote this past month of April or earlier. Thus far, the vast majority of churches who have sought to disaffiliate have been approved with few exceptions. One example includes our neighbor conference just to the east, the Holston Conference. The Holston Conference comprises churches in East Tennessee (all churches east of us to the North Carolina state line), southwest Virginia, and Northwest Georgia. Prior to the vote, there were 842 churches in the conference. After the vote, 578 remained. Thus, a total of 264 churches requested disaffiliation. All were approved with one general vote in the meeting. That totals a little less than 31 per cent of the total number of churches in the conference.
Our sister conference just to our south is the Alabama Conference. This conference makes up the northern half of the state. Their meeting was held earlier. Of the 638 churches in the conference, 198 churches were approved for disaffiliation. The North Carolina Conference had approximately 798 churches prior to their vote. Of that number, 249 were approved for disaffiliation. By the end of this year, almost all of the conferences will have held votes on disaffiliation.
These are just a few of our neighboring conferences. There are many more. So, you can see why the United Methodist Church as a denomination is going to look vastly different going into 2024. My prayer and our prayer should be that all the consternation created by and through this process will cease and we all can work together for the salvation of the world.
Thus, pending almost certain conference approval on May 22nd, as of June 1st, Homestead United Methodist Church will become Homestead Methodist Church. A congregational vote was taken to approve the name change. For the time being, we will simply be an independent church. However, at some point in the future, we have the option of choosing to become a member of some other Methodist-connected denomination. We anticipate that we will study those options for approximately one year. Then we will make a decision on remaining independent or join another organization.
Let us all be in prayer, not only for our church, but all churches who are taking this enormous step of faith! Our only desire should be the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.