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Special Session set for Thursday

Voting at Annual Conference

On Thursday, November 30, lay and clergy members of the Michigan Conference will meet online to vote to approve the disaffiliation of 62 churches.

The Michigan Conference is preparing for a Special Session of the Annual Conference, set for Thursday, November 30, 2023, to address requests by some local churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. The closure of one church — Charlevoix UMC — will also be voted on during the session.

Registered members of the Annual Conference will meet online via Zoom for the Special Session on November 30 at 7:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Central. It will also be broadcast live on the Michigan Conference Facebook page and the conference website.

Clergy and lay members will vote to approve the disaffiliation of 62 churches. These churches obtained the necessary two-thirds majority to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church at a duly called Church Conference. These churches have until December 15 to meet all requirements if approved at Thursday’s Special Session.

Bishop David Bard has called for the Special Session to vote to approve the disaffiliation of churches that have completed the requirements set by the Michigan Conference Board of Trustees since the earlier vote last summer. The Board of Trustees established the exact terms and conditions in alignment with the provisions found in The Book of Discipline.

Paragraph 2553, which was added to The Book of Discipline following the 2019 Special Session of General Conference, provided an exit path for those wishing to leave as a matter of conscience related to the direction that The United Methodist Church is heading on matters of full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in the life of the church. The provisions in Paragraph 2553 expire on December 31, 2023, and will be removed from The Book of Discipline.

Bishop Bard hopes members will read this list of churches and pray for our conference in preparation for this meeting. Bishop Bard said, “This remains a difficult and tender time in the life of the Michigan Conference and The United Methodist Church. There is significant grief and a strong resolve on the part of all to move forward in ministry for Jesus Christ.”

During Bishop Bard’s State of the Conference report at last summer’s Annual Conference, he noted that there would be a moratorium on disaffiliations in the Michigan Conference between January 1, 2024, and General Conference, set for April 23 – May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, NC. He also noted that a path for leaving the denomination will likely be put in place similar to Paragraph 2553, but the terms and details will not be determined until that gathering.

To date, only eight percent of churches in the Michigan Conference have disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church does not require churches to vote on whether to stay United Methodist (resources and FAQs are available on this web page). And Michigan Conference leadership has consistently spoken about the openness of the conference, emphasizing the spaciousness of The United Methodist Church and how there is room for diversity of thought and opinion.

Those members of disaffiliating churches who wish to remain United Methodist are encouraged to contact conference leadership by clicking the #StayUMC button below. The Michigan Conference is here to help individuals find a new United Methodist faith community.

Last Updated on January 30, 2024

The Michigan Conference