During this season of listening, learning and discernment, we want to be sure that all members understand the relevant information and have access to resources for further understanding.
Please read the Frequently Asked Questions sections below. Links have been provided below as well for further reference. If you have any questions, concerns, or needs for clarification, please contact Linda Woodring, administrative assistant to Rev. Tommy Williams and she can put you in touch with Pastor Tommy or a member of the Discernment Committee..
Why are we in a discernment period?
Due to ongoing division and conflict taking place in the United Methodist Church denomination, congregations across the U.S. are considering the best denominational affiliation for their future based on their theological and missional convictions.
Trinity is growing and we want to make sure we continue to be where God wants us to be. It is the faithful and responsible approach to explore and ask questions and see where our congregation is being led by the Holy Spirit in terms of our denominational affiliation.
Why is this happening now?
Bishops, Annual Conferences, and Jurisdictions have practiced widespread disregard of our denomination’s Book of Discipline in recent years, rendering group decision-making moot and communal discernment of denomination-wide policies ineffective. The denomination is not functioning in covenant well.
Currently, there are some 200 churches within the Texas Annual Conference in an official discernment process. That number is expected to increase.
The paragraph in the UMC Book of Discipline that allows for this path of disaffiliation was put in place as a temporary measure and will expire on December 31, 2023. Therefore we need to do some due diligence and discover where God is leading us in this season.
What will happen or change if we stay in the UMC
Not sure. The General Conference meets again in 2024. They function as the decision making body of the church. They are likely to move in a more progressive direction on a host of matters and individual churches will need to decide whether this aligns with how God is leading or not in their local communities.
What will change if we leave the UMC?
Churches can choose to affiliate with another Methodist denomination or be an independent congregation. Independence as a congregation comes with high risks. Being linked with a network (denomination) provides accountabilities, pastoral support, common missions etc.
Change always means change. But, there are other Methodist denominations that are very similar to what the United Methodist Church has historically been so there are options that represent less disruption and more continuity. The Global Methodist Church is the one under consideration that meets this criteria.
Who gets to make this decision?
All full members participate in a church conference and vote on Sunday March 26, 2023 at 4pm. The vote will require a 2/3 majority of all members present and voting.
What is the process for disaffiliation from the UMC?
The Texas Annual Conference has put forth a seven-step process for congregations to disaffiliate from the UMC: 1) complete an appropriate period of discernment, 2) calculate apportionments and unfunded pension liability estimates, 3) conduct a congregational vote to disaffiliate, 4) pay in full previous year’s apportionments and current year apportionments, 5) pay in full unfunded pension liability, 6) complete all necessary legal forms, and 7) be approved for release by an affirmative vote of the Texas Annual Conference.
What happens to our church buildings and properties?
United Methodist Churches have their properties held in trust for the annual conference of the UMC. If a disaffiliation occurs that property becomes the sole possession of the local church. This includes church buildings, campus, parsonages, and the foundation. All assets stay with Trinity.
If Trinity votes to disaffiliate, when would the change be official?
If we vote to disaffiliate, our effective date would be June 1, 2023.
Would Trinity become independent or join another denomination?
If we vote to disaffiliate, we would also need to decide whether to join another denomination or to remain an independent congregation. If we choose to disaffiliate there will be a motion to join the Global Methodist Church.
How will this affect my church membership?
Your church membership would not be impacted. Your membership resides with our local congregation and will be here regardless of denominational affiliation.
Would we change our name?
If the church leaves the UMC and unites with another Methodist denomination we would simply return legally to our prior name – Trinity Methodist Church.
Human Sexuality FAQs
Is the division in the UMC about accepting LGBTQ people in the church? That’s what I’ve seen in the news media.
News media coverage typically highlights stories about UMC clergy and congregations advocating for or against marrying same-sex couples in the church or ordaining non-celibate gay clergy. The news media also centers stories about congregations leaving the denomination on their stance regarding acceptance of LGBTQ persons.
Differences regarding human sexuality and marriage are one contributing factor to division in the UMC, but other significant issues include differences on Jesus (incarnation, divinity, saving death on the cross, physical resurrection) and the Bible (whether or not it is divinely inspired and the final authority for our belief and practice).
It is also about the churches agreeing to abide by the same covenant established at the representative General Conference.
What is our stance on LGBTQ clergy and marriage?
The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline has maintained the same stance since 1972. Paragraph 4 says, “All persons are of sacred worth.” Paragraph 214 says, “All people may attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments and become members.” Paragraph 304.3 says, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
Our church has abided by the Book of Discipline and will continue to do so. Though the stance has been consistent and clear, some progressive clergy, congregations, bishops, and annual conferences across the denomination have disregarded it with no consequences.
Are LGBTQ persons welcome at our church?
Yes. Our church acknowledges that all people are of sacred worth to God. Therefore, LGBTQ persons are welcome to membership and participation in the life and ministries of our church. We are committed to treating everyone with grace, dignity, and respect. We will never be taking a vote on whether to love and welcome all people. We will love and welcome all.
Finance, Property, and Legal FAQs
What is the financial impact of the transition if the church votes to disaffiliate with the UMC?
The financial obligations for disaffiliation in the Texas Annual Conference are favorable to local churches compared with other conferences in the U.S. Our conference has two requirements: 1) pay in full the previous year’s apportionments and the current year’s apportionments (funds that support the conference structure and joint ministry), and 2) pay in full the unfunded pension liability (the church’s obligation to the pension for its retired clergy and surviving spouses).
Our apportionments were fully paid for 2022 and we will owe the 2023 balance by June 1, 2023. This will be just about $87,000. We have reserves to cover this. We have carried a surplus the last two years.
The unfunded pension liability cost is $0.00
Any expenses on legal documents or signage updates due to a name change will be easily manageable with our reserves.
The financial impact of waiting is less clear.
What is the legal risk of leaving the denomination?
There is no legal risk when a church follows the steps for disaffiliation required by the Texas Annual Conference.
What would happen to the church’s non-profit status?
If the church votes to disaffiliate, we would still retain our non-profit status.
Pastor and Staff FAQs
How would our pastor and/or staff be impacted by a disaffiliation from the UMC?
Our pastor and lay leadership have a strong relationship and will continue to dialogue openly. We have hopes that our church and our pastor will stay together should we choose to disaffiliate. Should we choose to remain a UMC that is less clear.