“Should I stay or should I go? If I stay there will be trouble, if I go there will be double. Come on and let me know. Should I stay or should I go?” This chorus by The Clash, this punk rock group from back in my day echoes through my head whenever someone mentions the word disaffiliation. There it is, I said the “D” word. What will the churches of Mears & Shelby UMC decide? I found out this week that there is, of course, a deadline attached to disaffiliation “over issues www.related to human sexuality”. (um-insight.net) This means that if this is the main reason why Mears & Shelby UMC wish to disaffiliate then we need to get some ducks in a row in a timely manner. However, in the Michigan Conference we have been assured that churches may still disaffiliate after the December 31 deadline. So, let’s first just take a moment to breathe. Breathe in God’s grace and breathe out God’s praise….and here we go.
I want to be very clear that this is a decision for the churches of Mears & Shelby to make, not based on what I or any other pastor tells you, but about what you think is the right thing to do. This is an emotionally charged issue.
So here are some facts:
• Shelby & Mears UMC have paid their ministry shares, or will be paying them in full. We do not have to “catch up” to be current. This is an excellent thing.
• Shelby & Mears UMC are debt free! This is an excellent thing, due to your good stewardship!
• The cost to disaffiliate will be somewhere in the 6 figure range based on like sized churches in our area.
It is my intention to give you good information for both, so that you can vote as your hearts and the Holy Spirit guides you to do. When will the vote be? I can’t answer that quite yet. It is my intention to plan another Town Hall type meeting this summer so that our “snowbirds” can make sure to have their say and their votes counted. Our next Town Hall meeting needs to be with our District Superintendent and our outgoing DS will not be available at all in the month of June. I am in contact with our incoming DS Jodi Fuller.
What did we discuss at the last Town Hall type meeting? I’m glad that you asked! We decided at that time to wait based on questions which we asked of our DS, who answered in consultation with the
Bishop. We are attaching a pdf document and a video along with this newsletter from the Michigan Conference with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
https://vimeo.com/668610471 (Access the video here)
1. If we stay in the UMC can we make our own statement of faith, outlining what we believe? The answer was yes, we can make our own statement of faith.
2. Can we make up a marriage contract that states that we believe that marriage is as defined in the 2016 Book of Discipline which states that “we believe that marriage is between a man and a woman”? Could we be sued for doing so, and would the UMC back us up?
a. The answer was yes we can make up this kind of marriage contract
b. No, we would not be in a position to be sued for doing so.
c. Yes, the UMC would “back us up”.
3. If we stay in the UMC would we be respected as a “Traditional” church including not sending us
a “drag queen” as a pastor?
a. Yes, your “Traditional” values as a church would be respected and you would receive a pastor that is in line with those values. The SPRC has the right to vote “no” for any pastoral candidate that you feel is not in line with your values. It’s always been there. You don’t have to just go with who they give you.
4. It was also decided that we will not change our name to “Mears Community Church” at this time – let’s hold off on that. If we vote yes to disaffiliate, we may wish to do that in the future. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.
5. We are using Easy Tithe and are receiving some tithes through the internet. Perhaps we could encourage persons to increase their tithes to help offset some of the fees that we are incurring.
Folks, let me tell you something. I refuse to believe the insinuation that all of the UMC bishops are liars. I also refuse to believe that all GMC leaders are liars and intentional spreaders of false information. I believe that this is a difference of interpretation. You cannot make this decision based on me. You have to make the decision based on what you believe. That’s why we did that study regarding the Apostle’s Creed. I want what God decides for both churches.
I am off to Annual Conference this week and I will be back in the office on Wednesday June 7, but I will still be available to reach by cell phone at 269-438-1552, text or email at email@example.com.
Blessings in Christ,