Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, released this statement regarding the decision handed down today by The UMC Judicial Council:
We learned today that the Judicial Council has released a decision stating that The Book of Discipline offers no provision for an annual conference to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. In Decision 1444, the Judicial Council said, “The General Conference is the only body that can regulate the process and set the conditions for an annual conference in the United States to leave the United Methodist connection.”
The decision articulates that “connectionalism permeates the life, mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church.” This decision reminds us that “connectionalism” is more than simply a shared word in our vocabulary.
What we know is that the General Conference is the only body that speaks for the denomination, and the General Conference will not convene again until 2024. These are unsettled times that we are navigating, and our hope is that resolution will be achieved when General Conference next meets.
In the meantime, I am asking all South Carolina United Methodists to pray for our church, to be patient, and to remain focused on ministry and our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Presently, in The Book of Discipline, Paragraph 2553 exists as a pathway to disaffiliation for local churches whose members disagree with the current language about human sexuality in The Book of Discipline. If you have questions, we encourage you to be in further conversation with your district superintendent, who has the most recent information available.
Moving forward, we will communicate about ways that every congregation in our Annual Conference can make the decisions that assist in living into our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
So, amid all of the distractions the world has placed before our eyes and within earshot, once again I invite you to join me in seeking a more excellent way to focus on what matters most – trusting, believing and knowing that God is with us.
Grace and peace,
L. Jonathan Holston
South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church