North Texas Conference Meets Disaffiliating Churches Halfway
Today the Bishop shared a letter providing updates from the discernment and disaffiliation process, which began in late July. To date, the conference has met with about 40 congregations, or 15% of NTC churches, to discuss how they can discern their future with The United Methodist Church. Overall, these have been fruitful discussions, conducted in good faith, and while some churches will opt to disaffiliate at the end of the process, others have already determined not to move forward with a disaffiliation vote.
Conference leaders also met yesterday with representatives from a group of churches pursuing disaffiliation to revisit elements of the disaffiliation process, including pension liability, timelines and apportionment calculations.
Over the last two months, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits have worked hard to consider steps taken by neighboring annual conferences and to re-evaluate the NTC’s disaffiliation process. The fruit of that labor was two significant decisions: 1) to apply undesignated pension reserves against the NTC’s unfunded pension liability calculated by Wespath, and 2) to calculate apportionments owed per ¶2553 as 12 months prior and 12 months following the date of disaffiliation, in most cases reducing the apportionments due by six months.
These decisions and the act of convening yesterday’s meeting reflect the conference’s ongoing commitment to operating in good faith and leading the ¶2553 process in a way that is fair for disaffiliating churches, the churches that will remain United Methodist and, important to us all, the active and retired clergy whose pensions depend on disaffiliating churches leaving well. The conference is confident that the clergy and laity of disaffiliating churches will recognize these steps to meet them halfway and will honor the many generations of shared mission and ministry by parting ways in a spirit of mutual blessing.
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2022