St. Luke’s Administrative Board voted on January 9, 2023 to officially enter into the time of prayer and discernment phase of the disaffiliation process. The information contained on this page is in an effort to educate the St. Luke’s Family of Faith on this process.
Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not on this list please fill out the form at the bottom fo this page.
St. Luke’s has been an active and thriving family of faith for 133 years. This is because of the amazing spirit of the people of St. Luke’s and their willingness to share God’s love and bring hope to the world constantly and consistently. St. Luke’s has a strong future, knowing that with God, all things are possible. St. Luke’s has been part of three different Methodist denominations: The Methodist Episcopal South Church, The Methodist Church, and currently the United Methodist Church. St. Luke’s strength is not based on any support from the UMC structure, but the gracious spirit and work of the people that make up the St. Luke’s family of faith. Regardless of what denominational expression St. Luke’s is a part of, St. Luke’s will continue to share God’s love and bring hope to the world, as we have always done.
The process for disaffiliation is defined by the Oklahoma Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Our St. Luke’s Key Leaders must first make a recommendation to the Administrative Board. If the Administrative Board votes to proceed with the process of disaffiliation, there will be a series of meetings to discuss disaffiliation. The Administrative Board will meet again to make the motion to move to an all-church vote on disaffiliation. At that point, all members are welcome to come and vote. That date and time will be published in advance.
The vote to disaffiliate is held on a specific date and time. Members must be present to vote. The quorum is the number of members present. The decision will be made by those who are present and vote. This process is determined by the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
This paragraph is taken from the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. The Book of Discipline is the governing book of the UMC.
¶ 2553 Disaffiliation of a Local Church Over Issues Related to Human Sexuality
1. Basis– Because of the current deep conflict within The United Methodist Church around issues of human sexuality, a local church shall have a limited right, under the provisions of this paragraph, to disaffiliate from the denomination for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of selfavowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference, or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues which follow.
2. Time Limits–The choice by a local church to disaffiliate with The United Methodist Church under this paragraph shall be made in sufficient time for the process for exiting the denomination to be complete prior to December 31, 2023. The provisions of ¶ 2553 expire on December 31, 2023 and shall not be used after that date.
3. Decision Making Process–The church conference shall be conducted in accordance with ¶ 248 and shall be held within one hundred twenty (120) days after the district superintendent calls for the church conference. In addition to the provisions of ¶ 246.8, special attention shall be made to give broad notice to the full professing membership of the local church regarding the time and place of a church conference called for this purpose and to use all means necessary, including electronic communication where possible, to communicate. The decision to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church must be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the professing members of the local church present at the church conference.
4. Process Following Decision to Disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church–If the church conference votes to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church, the terms and conditions for that disaffiliation shall be established by the board of trustees of the applicable annual conference, with the advice of the cabinet, the annual conference treasurer, the annual conference benefits officer, the director of connectional ministries, and the annual conference chancellor. The terms and conditions, including the effective date of disaffiliation, shall be memorialized in a binding Disaffiliation Agreement between the annual conference and the trustees of the local church, acting on behalf of the members. That agreement must be consistent with the following provisions:
a) Standard Terms of the Disaffiliation Agreement. The General Council on Finance and Administration shall develop a standard form for Disaffiliation Agreements under this paragraph to protect The United Methodist Church as set forth in ¶ 807.9. The agreement shall include a recognition of the validity and applicability of ¶ 2501, notwithstanding the release of property therefrom. Annual conferences may develop additional standard terms that are not inconsistent with the standard form of this paragraph.
b) Apportionments. The local church shall pay any unpaid apportionments for the 12 months prior to disaffiliation, as well as an additional 12 months of apportionments.
c) Property. A disaffiliating local church shall have the right to retain its real and personal, tangible and intangible property. All transfers of property shall be made prior to disaffiliation. All costs for transfer of title or other legal work shall be borne by the disaffiliating local church.
d) Pension Liabilities. The local church shall contribute withdrawal liability in an amount equal to its pro rata share of any aggregate unfunded pension obligations to the annual conference. The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits shall determine the aggregate funding obligations of the annual conference using market factors similar to a commercial annuity provider, from which the annual conference will determine the local church’s share.
e) Other Liabilities. The local church shall satisfy all other debts, loans, and liabilities, or assign and transfer them to its new entity, prior to disaffiliation.
f) Payment Terms. Payment shall occur prior to the effective date of departure.
g) Disaffiliating Churches Continuing as Plan Sponsors of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits Plans. The United Methodist Church believes that a local church disaffiliating under ¶ 2553 shall continue to share common religious bonds and convictions with The United Methodist Church based on shared Wesleyan theology and tradition and Methodist roots, unless the local church expressly resolves to the contrary. As such, a local church disaffiliating under ¶ 2553 shall continue to be eligible to sponsor voluntary employee benefit plans through the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits under ¶ 1504.2, subject to the applicable terms and conditions of the plans.
h) Once the disaffiliating local church has reimbursed the applicable annual conference for all funds due under the agreement, and provided that there are no other outstanding liabilities or claims against The United Methodist Church as a result of the disaffiliation, in consideration of the provisions of this paragraph, the applicable annual conference shall release any claims that it may have under ¶ 2501 and other paragraphs of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church commonly referred to as the trust clause, or under the agreement.
The time limit is based on legislation passed at a Special Called General Conference, held in St. Louis in 2019. This legislation has a date that ends on December 31, 2023. The current process will end at that time. There is no guarantee for a process of disaffiliation after the next General Conference session in 2024.
¶2553 is a temporary option that was developed at the specially called General Conference of 2019 that sets aside the trust clause. Under ¶2553 a church that disaffiliates from the United Methodist Church is able to leave with their property after fulfilling the other financial obligations.
St. Luke’s has always been part of the Methodist movement which has its roots in the Anglican tradition. Methodism began as a revival movement within the Church of England. John Wesley, the founding pastor of the Methodist Movement was an ordained minister in the Church of England. John Wesley chartered the first Methodist Church in the United States in 1784. Since that time, Methodism has had several denominational expressions come to life though this movement. St. Luke’s has been part of three of these denominational expressions; The Methodist Episcopal Church South, The Methodist Church, and The United Methodist Church.
The leadership of St. Luke’s has met with the leadership of other United Methodist churches to discuss the significant decline of the UMC and how each church can best serve God. We worked to put together a Methodist entity that would offer another Methodist denominational option. If the membership of St. Luke’s votes for a new beginning away from the UMC structure, there is an entity in place that allows us to continue to be part of the Methodist movement and connected with other Methodist churches.
The United Methodist Church is organized by conferences. The conference is convened for the purpose of organizing the church. A conference sets policy, budgets and elects officers to help run the local church and denominational agencies.
The General Conference meets every four years and is the organizing conference of the international United Methodist Church. It is the General Conference that establishes the Book of Discipline.
An Annual Conference is presided over by a Bishop. An Annual Conference is made up of delegates, both clergy and laity, who make policy for a particular area, such as the State of Oklahoma. Through the Annual Conference, the appointment of clergy is made to local churches.
A Charge Conference is best understood as a local church. The Charge Conference elects officers, passes budgets, and sets the mission of the local church.
An “elder” in the United Methodist Church is an ordained clergy who is called to help organize the life of the church, preside over the sacraments, and teach the word of God.
“Guaranteed appointment” is for all elders in the United Methodist Church. All ordained elders are guaranteed a paid position in the church until their retirement.
All elders are guaranteed “minimum compensation.” This minimum compensation is set by the Annual Conference. If an elder is appointed to a local church, the local church must set the salary of the pastor at or above the minimum compensation amount.
Central Conferences are Conferences beyond the United States. Because the number of delegates from each Annual Conference are determined by the number of members in each Annual Conference, and because the Annual Conferences within the United States are dramatically declining, while the Central Conferences are growing, the Central Conferences have been making up a larger percentage of the General Conference delegates over the last several General Conferences. This has given them greater voting power.
The Global Methodist Church has recently come into existence. The Global Methodist Church (GMC) launched on May 1, 2022. It is a new denomination. There are clergy and lay leadership in the GMC. Many of them are former United Methodist leaders who have recently disaffiliated from the UMC. The Global Methodist Church is one of the many new Methodist denominations that have come to be in recent years as the United Methodist Church continues to struggle.
St. Luke’s procured all of its current clergy and then the presiding Bishop at the time officially appointed them to the church. Having the right clergy leadership is so important to the health of a church, that it is critical that St. Luke’s continue to find its own clergy no matter what denominational structure they are part of.
Disaffiliation will not affect a minister’s retirement. Our clergy retirement is held at Wespath. This is this investment service for the Methodist Church. Clergy will be able to keep all the funds they have paid into their personal investment plans. Unless they are eligible to retire, the clergy will have the defined benefit portion of their pension converted to a lump sum buyout, based on years of service.
There will be disagreements about disaffiliation. St. Luke’s wants all to be informed about this decision and the process through which a congregation disaffiliates from the UMC. Each member of St. Luke’s has a vote in this process. This is not simply a decision that one pastor or a few people can make for St. Luke’s. There will be a series of meetings and votes that will include every member of the family of faith.
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