This Wednesday, September 6th, I will be meeting one-on-one with Bishop Dottie Escobedo-Frank at her Pasadena office at 1:00 PM. The purpose of this meeting is for me to express to her the impossibility of the disaffiliation policy of this annual conference for those churches wishing to disaffiliate from the UMC. I will be representing The Fount, as well as the other 20-some churches in Cal-Pac who likewise wish to disaffiliate.
The importance of this meeting cannot be overstated! The policy of the annual conference, setting the terms for disaffiliation, was set by the conference Board of Trustees (BOT). The bishop believes that she has no say in the policy, but, of course, she does. The influence of the bishop in these matters is significant. I hope to persuade her exert her influence on the BOT to change the policy and to let churches disaffiliate at a more reasonable cost.
As you know, the current policy would require The Fount to pay the annual conference $3.1 million! There isn’t any way that we can raise that kind of money. Even if we could get a loan (which we can’t because the debt-to-income ratio is too high) it would take all of our budget to service the loan! So, we would have to fire all the staff (including me), shut off all utilities, maintenance, and curtail all ministries! Then, where would be get the income to pay the loan? The current policy of the conference BOT would kill this church.
So, I ask you to pray! Pray before, during, and after my meeting with the bishop. Pray that the Lord softens her heart and opens her eyes to see just how unjust this policy is to The Fount and the other churches in Cal-Pac seeking disaffiliation. Pray that her sense of justice will rise up in her heart, and that she will commit to exerting her influence on the BOT. And pray that I will be given the words from the Lord that He will use to soften the bishop’s heart.
If the policy does not change, and the annual conference does not vote to allow us to disaffiliate because we have not met their un-meetable requirements, we will have to pursue other means which will necessitate hardship and sacrifice.
Let us commit to prayer.