FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is our church considering separation from the United Methodist denomination?
Due to the ongoing division taking place in the greater denomination of The United Methodist Church, congregations across the U.S. are being asked to choose their own pathways for future affiliation based on their core values and theological beliefs. The history is long and complicated, but ultimately, upholding the traditional, apostolic witness of Holy Scripture as authoritative in all matters of faith and practice is the central reason why First Methodist Alvin is considering leaving The United Methodist Church.

Why is this happening now?
At Texas Annual Conference (TAC) in late May 2022, Bishop Scott Jones encouraged each congregation to consider its future affiliation by late fall of this year — whether that’s remaining in The United Methodist Church, staying in Wesleyan connection by affiliating with another Methodist denomination or becoming an independent church. In June 2022, Bishop Jones announced his retirement effective December 31, 2022, citing “increasing disobedience and escalating conflict in the denomination.” The new incoming bishop is expected to be much more progressive in theology and practice and will carry the authority to re-assign any of our pastors to another church within our geographic region. First Methodist may have diminished input in the appointment of the new senior pastor or any other pastor the bishop chooses to replace. Currently, First Methodist Alvin is one of over 100 churches in the TAC currently in official discernment. This number is expected to double by year-end.

What will change if First Methodist Alvin leaves the UMC?
Very little. Having had three different names over it's 130 years in existence, First Methodist will continue to make more and stronger disciples of Jesus Christ — regardless of denominational affiliation. First Methodist's clergy team, leadership board, ministry partners and committed members are working to ensure the ministry and mission of the church advance without delay, interruption or redirection.

What is the process to disaffiliate from the UMC?
The Texas Annual Conference (TAC) laid out a seven-step process for each church seeking to separate from the UMC:  1) complete the appropriate period of discernment, 2) calculate apportionments and unfunded pension liability estimates, 3) conduct a congregational vote to disaffiliate, 4) pay in full previous year’s apportionments and current year apportionments, 5) pay in full unfunded pension liability, 6) complete all necessary legal forms, and 7) be approved for release by an affirmative vote of the Texas Annual Conference. While the terms the TAC had laid out are quite favorable compared to other UMC conferences, there may be opportunities to negotiate the final dollar amount First Methodist will be required to pay.

When will the change be official, if First Methodist votes to disaffiliate?
December 31, 2022. A special called session of the Texas Annual Conference of the UMC will be held on December 3, 2022, for the purpose of voting to release local congregations that have completed the necessary steps and settled all financial and legal obligations to the TAC by that date. First Methodist will be among this group if our discernment period reveals a desire to leave the denomination.

Would First Methodist Alvin potentially affiliate with another denomination?
First Methodist seeks to continue it's Wesleyan heritage, but it’s too soon to determine a specific affiliation pathway for the future. Among the options for possible future affiliation are 1) The Global Methodist Church and 2) the Free Methodist Church USA. The Discernment Task force is currently working to study the best way forward.

Who gets to make the decision to part ways with the UMC, and when will that happen?
If the discernment process reveals a ministry calling outside the UMC, registered members of the church will have the opportunity to participate in a called church conference for the purpose of voting to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. If needed, the Discernment Task Force is studying the possibility of holding a vote to make this decision in August 2022.

How will this affect my church membership?
Your vows of membership are honored regardless of denominational affiliation. Your membership is recorded in our local church database, and that status will not change as a result of any disaffiliation or affiliation activity.

Will we change our church name?
The Leadership Board is seriously weighing the option of changing the name of the church during this process. As trust in denominational systems increases in our culture, aligning the church with a new name might help the church reach more disciples of Jesus Christ. No name has been considered at this time and the process of rebranding the church is not part of this vote.

Isn’t the division in the UMC about accepting LGBTQIA+ people in the church?
News media coverage often highlights UMC clergy and/or congregations that either advocate for or stand against full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons as clergy and as couples married in the church. At First Methodist Alvin, discernment and decisions are focused on the primary matters of scriptural authority — what orthodox Christians have always believed about God, Jesus and the Bible — above matters of full inclusion. Regarding this specific topic, First Methodist Alvin, we will continue to rely on Scriptures to guide all matters of human relations, including sexuality.

Are LGBTQIA+ persons welcome at our church?
First Methodist views all people as individuals of sacred worth. Therefore, LGTBQIA+ persons are invited to participate in worship as lay congregants or in ministry programs as lay participants. We extend welcome, grace and respect to all who call First Methodist Alvin their church home.

What is the financial impact of this transition transition if the vote is to disaffiliate?
The financial obligations associated with disaffiliation in the Texas Annual Conference (TAC) are highly favorable compared to those of other conferences around the nation. TAC requires the base minimum allowed by UMC governance regulations: 1) pay in full previous year’s apportionments and current year apportionments and 2) pay in full unfunded pension liability. Currently our conference office is working to share with us our financial obligation for disaffiliation.

What happens to the church’s 501(c)3 status?
As religious 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, First Methodist's ministries operate solely from financial support of its members, supporters and community members at-large. This status will not change as a result of any change in denominational affiliation.

Will the church retain our buildings and property?
Completing the disaffiliation process ensures First Methodist Alvin will leave the United Methodist Church with our property and material assets, free of any trust clause referencing the denomination.

What is the trust clause and how does that affect our church?
The trust clause is a historic, universal claim made by the UMC and written into the church’s articles of incorporation in an effort to retain ownership rights of local church properties. First Methodist Alvin will be automatically released from this claim upon a final vote for disaffiliation by the Texas Annual Conference.

What is the legal risk of leaving the denomination?
There is no risk or liability associated with disaffiliation by following the prescribed steps for completing the process. The risk of litigation increases in cases where churches take steps to disaffiliate outside the prescribed process.

Where do our pastors stand on this issue? Do they support leaving the denomination?
First Methodist's clergy team joins the greater congregation in the current period of discernment; they are in careful consideration and study of the options and are expected to make their views known in the near future.

How will our staff be impacted by a transition away from the UMC?
Both Wesley and Kenny would continue to serve as ordained elders and local licensed pastors in the UMC until the church’s separation becomes final by a vote of the Texas Annual Conference. After that time, they will seek licensing and credentials from either a new denomination or independent licensing organization. Non-clergy staff will not be impacted.