Hopeful Signs Among Disaffiliations

From Forrest Buhler, CAUMC Lay Representative to the Great Plains Annual Conference:

I thought you might be interested in an article entitled “Taking stock after a season of disaffiliations” published December 15, 2022, by the United Methodist News (UM News), the official source of information and news about The United Methodist Church. The link to the article is below. The article puts together in one place information and links on the results of disaffiliations so far from across the
United States. You will also see a link in the article to stories showing how this is impacting the budget process for the UMC General Council on Finance and Administration.

Overall Numbers in the US. The article includes the numbers so far for Jurisdictions and Conferences in the US. All disaffiliations from the UMC must be completed by the end of 2023, so there is still more to come (see link below), but the article helps to give a picture of what the numbers are at this point. For example, the UM News says that 2,003 churches in the U.S. have disaffiliated so far. That translates to about 6.6% of U.S. congregations withdrawing since 2019 when the church’s disaffiliation provision took effect. The Southeastern Jurisdiction has the highest number of withdrawals.

South Central Jurisdiction Numbers that Include the Great Plains Conference. The article includes a chart with the total number of disaffiliations in each of the five Jurisdictions in the UMC. Our Great Plains Conference, made up of Kansas and Nebraska churches, is in the South Central Jurisdiction, which includes the states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. According to the article: “The Texas Conference, stretching from the Houston area to the eastern part of the state, on Dec. 4 approved the highest number of disaffiliations — 294, or nearly half of its 598 churches. The Northwest Texas Conference, voting on the same day, ratified the highest percentage of disaffiliations — 74%, or 145 of its 196 churches.” Similarly high numbers were recorded for churches in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. There is a link in the article to the numbers for each of the Conferences in the United States.

Great Plains Conference Numbers Relatively Small. So comparatively speaking, the 77 disaffiliations we have experienced so far in the Great Plains Conference out of about 960 local congregations, is much lower than the conferences elsewhere. In addition, the income on which the Great Plains Conference based its budget for 2023 increased over previous years.

Hopeful signs. There are hopeful signs as well. The article says even with the disaffiliation, there are still more than 28,500 United Methodist congregations in the U.S. The article also reports new congregations forming made up of members who did not agree with the disaffiliating church’s decision.

The link to the article is as follows: http://bit.ly/40ezLtc

Link to Special Sessions for disaffiliations in 2023: http://bit.ly/3kRUwut