By Keith Boyette
Periodically, we will devote an article regarding developments in the Global Methodist Church. Our focus will be on frequently asked questions and other information we deem helpful to clergy and laity whether they have already aligned with the Church or not.
Changes in the Transitional Leadership Council
The membership of the Global Methodist Church’s TransitionalLeadership Council (TLC) will change as the Church grows. The TLC’s purpose, composition, responsibilities, and authority are addressed in the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline (see paragraphs 702-703). Recently, four new members joined the Council: Rev. Dr. Kimba Evariste (Democratic Republic of Congo), Krystl Gauld (Pennsylvania), Rev. Jessica LaGrone (Texas), and Rev. Dr. Daniel Topalski (Bulgaria).
Shortly after the launch of the new Church on May 1, 2022, the TLC appointed me to serve as its Transitional Connectional Officer, its chief executive during its transitional period. I will be assisted by Rev. Walter Fenton (Chief Deputy Connectional Officer), Rev. Angela Pleasants (Clergy and Church Relations Director), Teresa Marcus (Executive Assistant), and Selena Armstead (Administrative Assistant).
Given that I am now an employee of the Global Methodist Church, I will no longer serve as the TLC’s chairman. The Council recently elected the Rev. Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory (Texas) as its new chairwoman and Mr. Gideon Salatan (Philippines) as its new vice chairman.
Reception of Clergy and Local Churches into Membership
Most, but not all, of the clergy and local churches seeking to join the Global Methodist Church will have withdrawn from The United Methodist Church. The process of withdrawal is both time consuming and costly. Consequently, the number of clergy and local churches who are currently members of the new Church is small but growing each week. We now have clergy and local churches in Europe (Bulgaria and Croatia), the Philippines, and the United States. We recently received clergy and local churches from independent churches and other denominations who affirm our doctrines and discipline. And some persons who were previously licensed as local pastors or who held probationary status have been approved for ordination in the Global Methodist Church.
UM Church annual conferences located in the U.S. are currently meeting. Hundreds of local churches are in the disaffiliation process and will complete their withdrawal from the UM Church in the coming months. At the completion of that process, they will they be able to join the Global Methodist Church. Thus, the first wave of new members will continue through September 2022.
Some UM Church annual conferences in the United States will hold special sessions to approve additional disaffiliations in the fall and winter of 2022-2023. This will produce a second wave of local churches seeking to align with the Global Methodist Church. A third wave will align in 2023, and another wave will join after the UM Church’s General Conference is finally convened at some unspecified date in 2024.
In addition to receiving clergy and congregations departing the UM Church, the Global Methodist Church is embarking on a significant church planting initiative. New churches have already begun in the Philippines and the United States. We will share additional information about the initiative in future articles. The Church recently announced a planting partnership with Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS) which will provide one million dollars in grants for church planting to ATS graduates. We look forward to similar partnerships with other seminaries and associations.
Incorporated on March 18, 2022, the Global Methodist Church has registered or is completing the registration process as a new denomination in countries in Africa, Europe, Eurasia, and the Philippines. Once that process is completed, a number of clergy and local churches plan to align with the new Church.
As local churches join the denomination, congregational leaders should consult the Global Methodist Church’s website, and specifically read the answer to the third frequently asked question regarding exemption from federal taxation and the deductibility of charitable gifts made to local churches.
The Global Methodist Church is likely to hold its convening General Conference in 2024, once clergy and local churches have had ample opportunity to withdraw from the UM Church and join the new Church. Prior to the convening General Conference, the TLC has adopted two policies to aid clergy and churches in this transitional period:
- Local churches may apply for release from connectional funding responsibilities and instead discern the sums they are able to contribute to support annual conference and general Church expenses prior to the convening General Conference.
- And clergy received into membership in the new denomination may serve as pastors of local churches not affiliated with the new Church prior to its convening General Conference. This will allow clergy to serve local churches that have withdrawn from the UM Church but are still discerning whether to join us.
Pensions, Health, and Other Benefits
The TLC has retained the services of the Rev. Richard (“Rick”) Van Giesen (Illinois) as the Global Methodist Church’s benefits officer. Two frequently asked questions (questions 5 and 6) provide information about the Church’s retirement and health insurance programs. Its retirement program, called Covenant Retirement, is a defined contribution plan that will permit local churches and clergy to jointly contribute an amount equal to 15 percent of a clergyperson’s annual income to her or his pension plan. Covenant Retirement is structured so that there will never be unfunded pension liabilities.
The new Church’s health insurance program will provide mandatory health coverage for clergy with some exemptions. Local churches whose clergy are exempted from coverage are exempt from payments for health insurance. Clergy will also have life and disability insurance coverage available at reasonable rates.
Supporting the Global Methodist Church
The Global Methodist Church is grateful for your prayers and encouragement in this season. Many have already begun supporting it by making gifts via its website. You can now give online for general operations or for designated initiatives: church planting, chaplaincy (e.g., military branches, prisons, hospitals, and others), and ministerial education. You can also mail checks to: Global Methodist Church. 4545 Empire Court, Fredericksburg, VA 22408.
All the information shared above is of course important and necessary, but most important of all is our mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly! Join us!
The Rev. Keith Boyette is the Transitional Connectional Officer of the Global Methodist Church, its chief executive and administrative officer.