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Why Join the GMC Now?

By Rev. Dr. Brian Straub

President of West Ohio WCA


Is it better to join the Global Methodist Church sooner rather than later? There are some who want to wait until the 2024 General Conference, to see if the Protocol will be passed. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until then, to try to get more favorable terms for disaffiliation?

The question revolves around what we expect from the 2024 General Conference. It is true that the Traditional Plan was passed at the 2019 General Conference. Can we expect to maintain a majority vote two years from now?

While Africa has more members of the UMC than the U.S. has, seats at General Conference are allocated according to the number of clergy in each Conference. Laity are then used to equalize the number of clergy. There are many times more clergy in the U.S. than in Africa. Thus, the U.S. will have a very large (perhaps disproportionately large) delegation. Most of the clergy elected to the General Conference from the U.S. will be progressive. Some of the U.S. laity will be progressive. There may be more progressive laity from the U.S.elected to General Conference than previously, due to the loss of traditionalist votes at Annual Conferences because of churches that have already disaffiliated.

Delegates from other parts of the world will be mixed. In addition, there are always some delegates, often from Africa, who are absent because of visa problems or State Department rules. When all of these issues are taken into account, it looks like the probability of traditionalists holding a majority of votes at General Conference 2020/2024 could be very close. That being the case, it is not a sure thing that the Protocol could be passed.

Book of Discipline ¶2553 will sunset at the end of 2023. The General Conference may not extend that paragraph. The Bishops have made it clear that they will not use ¶2548.2. That could mean that churches who wish to leave the UMC in order to join the GMC is 2024 may have only ¶2549 open to them, which is the option of closing the doors and walking away from your building.

We will also be receiving a new bishop when Bishop Palmer retires. Our new bishop may want to add more requirements on to ¶2553, as bishops have already done in many other conferences. We know that the bishop will not be able to reduce the requirements below what we currently have under Bishop Palmer.

Another reason to consider leaving sooner rather than later is the recent announcement by Wespath that the amount of unfunded liability a church has to pay has been recalculated and greatly reduced. (See Jay Therrell’s article: This will be a blessing to many churches who previously either could not afford to leave or who would be saddled with a huge debt. However, I would not assume that this reduction is permanent. Changes in the market and the national and global economy may change in such a way that the unfunded liability could be recalculated upward in the future.

When all these issues are considered, I think it makes sense that the safer move is to do it sooner rather than later. Bishop Palmer has said that in addition to the special Annual Conference to be held on November 19, 2022, to vote on churches who wish to disaffiliate, there will also be Annual Conference votes next June and in the fall of 2023. If you are considering disaffiliation to join the GMC, you might want to seriously consider getting the process started to make one of these three votes.

Rev. Tom Lambrecht, Vice President and General Manager of Good News, walks through the General Conference math in this video. You can see it here:

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