What's Happening with the UMC, and How Will It Affect Grace?

By Rev. Cindy Marino

People are wondering...Are we splitting?  What’s happening? What’s the Global Methodist Church (GMC)?
We’ll hear more and more of these questions as we grow closer to the next General Conference in 2024. In the meantime, however, I invite you to keep in mind that until or unless the 2024 General Conference (GC)makes a decision, nothing happens.
You may have heard that a split took place with the launch of the Global Methodist Church (GMC) on May 1; however, that’s not the case. The GMC is comprised of congregations that chose to disaffiliate from the UMC to join this new denomination, which is not related to the current UMC. The UMC as we know it is still intact and will remain so until or unless decisions are made at the next GC in 2024 to change that status.
There are several issues at the base of the conversations around splitting, the most prevalent of which is the UMC’s position on sexuality. There is likely to be legislation presented at the 2024 GC that will challenge the UMC’s current position, added in 1972.
The current Book of Discipline states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Based on that position, the Church has maintained restrictions regarding pastors. Pastors may not be “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” and may not conduct ceremonies that celebrate same-sex weddings or unions. Such ceremonies also may not be held on church property.
 The Church affirms that all people are of sacred worth and are equally valuable in the sight of God. Click here for a helpful article with more information.
Many anticipate proposals to remove this language at General Conference in 2024. If any are approved, those churches that want it retained might then plan to leave the UMC. But without a decision from GC that gives them an exit plan, they face obstacles around property and finances. It’s a lengthy process for a congregation to separate, and there are many considerations. You might read the article from our Bishop John Hopkins in the April edition of the Northern Illinois Report here.
We don’t know how the General Conference will respond to new legislation in 2024. We don’t know what the new proposals will be. There could be a separation decided upon. Of course, there are always “what if” scenarios to consider. The issue, with a denomination of over 12 million members globally who are not of one mind, is complicated at the very least. I invite you to keep up with the latest developments at www.umnews.org, the official news agency of the
United Methodist Church