This past Saturday, November 11th, the California-Pacific Annual Conference met in a special called session. The agenda was short: (1) Approve a budget for 2024, and (2) Vote on churches seeking to disaffiliate from the UMC.
The Fount was not one of the churches voted on for disaffiliation. Because the conference Board of Trustees had set the exit cost so extremely high, The Fount was not able to complete the process. But three other churches were able and were approved for disaffiliation. Wesley UMC in San Diego, Covenant UMC in Pomona, and Blessed Chinese UMC in Hacienda Heights. I want to congratulate these three churches on their successful disaffiliation and pray blessings for them as they journey on.
But for The Fount, one door closes.
The hardest thing about the experience was that the bishop and the Trustees allowed no discussion or debate about the process. The Trustees made the policy, and the annual conference session was not allowed to question or otherwise address the policy. It would be like a sub-committee of congress passed a law and the whole congress could not change or even question the law. And if anyone objected, their microphone would be shut off and their voice silenced. It is not right. And it is a disgrace. The Trustees effectively blocked the disaffiliation of at least 11 more churches, including The Fount, and they did not have to account for their actions to anyone!
But for those 11 churches, only one door has closed.
The closed door is paragraph #2553 in the Book of Discipline, which expires at the end of this year. After December 31st, it cannot be used to disaffiliate.
There are other doors; there are other steps that can be taken. The Fount (and many of the remaining 11 churches) have options and they will not go quietly in the darkness of heavy-handed, top-down bureaucratic bullying. Our God is an AWESOME God!
J.D. Walt, in the “Wake-Up Call” devotional this morning penned this, which could be the makings of a good song:
The war is already won,
And we will finally win,
But the battles must still be fought
All the way to the end.
So, while the battle was lost, the struggle goes on toward ultimate victory. The “trust clause” is being misused to try and absorb the property and assets of non-complying congregations by a broken and failing annual conference. It isn’t right, and it must not be allowed to stand!
Continue praying. We are not done yet!
Onward in Christ,