St. Matthews UMC Discernment Process
The discernment process used by our congregation involved three steps and began more than four years ago.
First, our church engaged in two rounds of Holy Conversations (2018 and 2020) to foster healthy dialogue. The first round involved broader conversations around race, violence, human sexuality, and other issues. The second round, which was cut short by COVID, focused on human sexuality and the upcoming General Conference.
Second, in 2022 our church engaged in a series of informational sessions led by our Cross-Campus Shepherding Team. These sessions laid out the issues at hand, the disaffiliation plan that General Conference had approved, and positioned members of the Cross-Campus Shepherding Team for questions and feedback.
Third, in early 2023, after hearing no clear push from the congregation to leave the United Methodist Church, the Cross-Campus Shepherding Team made the decision to forgo further discernment and draft a resolution to stay United Methodist in an effort to reduce uncertainty and gain momentum in our ministries going forward.
Why did we not hold a church-wide vote? A disaffiliation vote was a tool only for churches who wanted to leave the United Methodist Church for reasons related to human sexuality. Under the Book of Discipline, disaffiliation votes are the exception, not the rule. With the church clearly not leaning that way and with no formal inquiries made to the Annual Conference, our Cross-Campus Shepherding Team and Administrative Board believed that no vote was necessary and that a church-wide vote might actually be harmful.