By Chuck Griffin, Holston WCA President
We’ve posted a lot of articles the last few weeks detailing what traditional Methodist churches in the Holston Conference expect as the Global Methodist Church becomes a viable home for them. (The GMC officially launches May 1.) Here’s a quick summary of what we pray all involved will come to understand:
1) Traditional Methodist churches are leaving. Timing is up in the air only because those who have a grip on us cannot decide how or when to let go. Ideally, the entire Holston Annual Conference would decide at a meeting held this year whether to go to the Global Methodist Church. But even without that, we can separate gracefully.
2) We want the same graceful exit we would have received if General Conference had been held and the so-called “Protocol Legislation” had passed. General Conference’s cancellation was the result of a brazen and bogus plan to prevent the likely passage of Protocol. Feeling robbed, we will not settle for less.
3) A graceful exit is easy to define. Departing churches take their property without cost. They do not pay apportionments for any years that they will not be in the United Methodist Church—to use the term coined several years ago regarding the conference tithe, we’ve already paid our “Fair Share,” and anything more is, by definition, unfair. These churches also will not pay vaguely formulated pension liabilities in advance. We are more than happy to agree to keep covering reasonable pension liabilities that might arise.
All those onerous extra payments, the kind defined under “disaffiliation procedures,” need to be called what they are: Exit fees. Exit fees are punitive. If we hear proposals for exit fees, we will know a decision has been made to forego grace.
We seek grace, just as we would hope to offer grace if the situation were reversed.