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Special Session registration opens October 2

Bishop Bard speaking during online conference

Registration opens October 2 for the online Special Session of Annual Conference set for November 30 to address final disaffiliation requests.

Content Editor

On Monday, October 2, 2023, registration for the Special Session of the Michigan Annual Conference will open. Eligible clergy and lay members in good standing who attended the 2023 Annual Conference in June are able to vote. Those members will receive notification via email of the registration process, which closes October 31 at 5 pm Eastern/4 pm Central. The 2023 Annual Conference registration fee covers registration costs for the Special Session.

Registered members will then meet via Zoom for the Special Session on Thursday, November 30, at 7:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Central. The event will also be broadcast live for public viewing via the Michigan Conference’s Facebook page.

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 this summer. The Board of Trustees established the exact terms and conditions in alignment with the provisions found in the Book of Discipline’s Paragraph 2553, which expires December 31, 2023.

The gathering will begin with worship and then focus on two business items. In addition to voting on churches seeking to disaffiliate from the Michigan Conference and The United Methodist Church, members will also vote to approve the closure of any churches that have closed since this summer’s Annual Conference. Questions will also be received and answered.

All churches in the Michigan Conference, including those currently in the process of disaffiliation, are eligible to be included in the November 30 vote. Clergy and lay members who attended the 2023 Michigan Annual Conference this June and are still in good standing are eligible to vote. (Members whose churches disaffiliated, effective July 1, 2023, are no longer eligible to vote.) If those persons cannot participate and the church did not elect an alternate at their 2022 Church Conference, the church must contact their district superintendent about setting a Special Church Conference as soon as possible to elect a person to attend. Registration for the November 30 meeting ends October 31. No late registrations will be accepted.

In preparation for the Special Session, the names of churches that have obtained the two-thirds majority to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church at a duly called Church Conference and have fulfilled all the requirements will be sent to members for review after November 1. The list of closed churches, if any, will also be sent at this time.

Bishop David Bard hopes members will read this list of churches and pray for our conference through this disaffiliation work. “Disaffiliation continues to be painful at this time in the life of The United Methodist Church. In holding this Special Session, the Michigan Conference continues to do the work with kindness and fairness.”

November 1, 2023, is also the last date for a Church Conference vote required for a church to be considered for disaffiliation at the November 30 Special Session.

During Bishop David Bard’s State of the Conference report at this 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.

Only a minority of churches in the Michigan Conference have taken a congregational vote and obtained a two-thirds majority to disaffiliate 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 Methodists 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