A very large number of members of First United Methodist Church Montgomery desire for our church to enter into a formal Discernment Period pursuant to section 2553 of the Book of Discipline. Despite the obvious sentiment expressed to our District Superintendent by the petition signed by 425+ members their personal support for such formal Discernment, our leadership has refused to call for Discernment pursuant to the rules of the Alabama West Florida Conference with respect to potential disaffiliation of FUMC from the United Methodist Church denomination. To date, two motions presented to the administrative board and the referenced petition have been ruled out of order pursuant to some legalistic technicalities which have allowed to override a good common sense effort to listen to the congregation. In light of the foregoing, with temperatures rising in our church to untenable levels, with people in our Church on all sides of the relevant issues posting very divisive emails and with social media activity (even by clergy and clergy family members) which is highly divisive, with members with a wide variety of opinions and many with wholly unfulfilled desires to simply be afforded the common decency to be heard, many of our faithful members continue to believe that formal Discernment is the only way that our church can ever have a chance to heal.
As an olive branch, some members who have supported formal Discernment agreed to try to calm the waters and support Jay’s plan for “little d discernment“ - but as part of that agreement, Jay promised that he would finish those little d discernment sessions with plenty of time to still have a formal Discernment period under section 2553 and a vote in time for any such vote to disaffiliate to be approved by the annual conference at the November 12, 2023 annual conference.
Specifically, we continue to ask the following questions:
What is the final date that our church can have a vote to disaffiliate which would be timely to be placed on
the agenda for the annual conference approval list on November 12, 2023.
What is the last date by which formal Discernment has to begin and end under the rules of the
Alabama West Florida Conference allowing time to have the Vote referenced in Number 1 above?
By what date must we have a request from Either (i) the Senior Minister, (ii) The Administrative Board,
or (iii) 10% of the professing Members to Mike Pearson as district superintendent to initiate
formal Discernment for First United Methodist Church?
Finally we once again respectfully request our leadership listen to the will of our congregation at First United Methodist Church and initiate formal Discernment pursuant to section 2553 at the conclusion of the “little d” discernment process which we anticipate to start in the next week or two.
Our pledges for 2023 are at an all-time low as a percentage of our Budget. Emotions are running high - and our members deserve the opportunity to decide our Church’s future. Any failure to do so will further divide our church in irreparable ways.
We cannot begin to heal without formal Discernment.