As you know by now, this coming March 2023 we, as a church, will be making a significant and possibly historic decision about the future of our Homestead Church. I hope that you have been praying about this decision, and you are prepared to cast an informed and Spirit-led vote on this matter.
For some context, let me remind you of some background information. As you probably remember from our 75th Anniversary Celebration, our church was founded in 1946 as Homestead Methodist Church. At its founding, it was not known as a “United Methodist Church.” The church began under the auspices of what
was then known as the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church. In 1968, after a merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the church became known as Homestead UNITED Methodist Church-taking the UNITED name from our EUB brethren. Eventually, as different events took place within the conference, the Tennessee Conference has now become the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference- merging the middle Tennessee area with west Tennessee and western Kentucky.
In the past few years, many United Methodist Churches (in all areas of the world) have come to believe that their local church’s belief systems have parted ways with the views of the general church expressed through the General Conference and regional conferences such as the TWK conference.
As a result, General Conference in 2019 voted into place a method for churches which felt the need to depart from the UMC to do so. It came to be known in the denominational Book of Discipline as section 2553. Under this, churches would be allowed to leave (disaffiliate) the UMC by simply paying two years of apportionments and the “unfunded pension liabilities” for former pastors. However, section 2553 is only available through December 31st of this year.
At this point, approximately 110 churches in the TWK conference have already departed and several more have voted to also depart. Both Homestead and Dorton voted initially to pursue disaffiliation. Dorton has taken all the steps necessary to do so, including taking the final vote within the church body. Disaffiliation required a majority of 2/3 of the church’s members present at the meeting to vote in the affirmative. According to our wonderful district superintendent, Donna Parramore, who along with one of the Dorton Church members, counted the votes, the final vote was unanimous with a vote of 27-0 for disaffiliation.
This is now where we find ourselves at Homestead Church. Our final vote will be coming up Thursday evening, March 2nd, at 6:00 pm. The same parameters will apply to Homestead as applied to Dorton and all other churches who have voted to disaffiliate. Only church members present at the meeting will be allowed to vote. Plus, disaffiliation will require 2/3 of those present to vote for disaffiliation.
For clarification, let me answer one question that has been asked numerous times. “Will we no longer be Methodist?” The answer to that question is a resounding YES! We will still be Wesleyan Methodists. The United Methodists are not the only Methodists in the world. There are many denominations and groups that subscribe to Wesleyan Methodist beliefs. So, pending an affirmative disaffiliation vote, while we will no longer be Homestead United Methodist Church, we will most definitely continue to be Homestead Methodist Church.
With all that said, I can only ask that you vote according to the way the Spirit leads you. Voting either way, will bring about decisions that will need to be made in the future. As pastor, I have tried my best to stay out of the discussions as much as possible in order to let you make your personal decisions based upon your personal belief systems and under the guidance of the Spirit. If you asked me on a personal level my opinion, I shared that with you. But your vote should reflect your opinion and beliefs.
We love and appreciate all of you and your dedication to your church! Please know that whatever vote you make will not affect that love.