Lighthouse Congregations

The North Georgia Conference is excited to share a new resource for individuals and groups whose churches are disaffiliating, yet they wish to remain United Methodist, and for congregations who have a desire to welcome, love, and nurture these persons.

Lighthouse Congregations are particularly equipped to welcome anyone whose church has closed or disaffiliated. If you find yourself in these circumstances, we first want you to know that we see you. We love you. And we will help guide you. A Lighthouse Congregation is a United Methodist faith community that will serve as a resting place with people who will care for you while providing a haven of peace and grace. Whether you are an individual or a group of people who have become displaced or churchless because of closing or disaffiliation, Lighthouse Congregations will be there for you during this difficult time.

What is a Lighthouse Congregation? An LHC is a United Methodist congregation devoted to Christian hospitality and to the welcome and care of people who've been displaced from their church homes by disruption, disaffiliation, or closure. An LHC designation gives a congregation a unifying missional focus of welcoming, caring for and discipling people who have been through crisis and/or carry church hurt.  Ideal churches for this movement are:

  • Called to extend radical hospitality;
  • Focused on Christian discipleship and spiritual formation;
  • Likely to receive, or are already receiving those who felt they could no longer stay with a previous church;

Who does a Lighthouse Congregation help?

The person or people who've been displaced.  Whether they stay for a season or make it their new home, LHCs offer an assurance of calm, comfort and stability. An LHC is one who has said, "We will welcome and support you. And you can trust that while we are not perfect, the division you experienced before is not happening here."

What are the responsibilities of a Lighthouse Congregation?

Be UMC. This is a promise of stability to those who were displaced because they want to remain United Methodist  Their trust is already damaged by their recent experience with church conflict. Congregations need to prayerfully consider how confidently and excitedly they can say, “We are committed to Christ and to living out our faith as a United Methodist Church.”

Provide a welcoming space to belong during this time of grief and transition, which might be for a season or for a lifetime. This includes all forms of pastoral and lay-driven care and compassion. This may also include providing physical space for “remnant” groups to gather as they consider what it looks like to stay together.

Offer ministry opportunities without any immediate pressure to join, give, or lead.

  • Worship: Provide worship opportunities, whether online or in person. These services should intentionally engage and welcome new people and include the sacraments of communion and baptism.
  • Discipleship: Extend invitations to new and existing groups for spiritual formation and study. Share space and resources (e.g., study books, Amplify Media subscriptions) to allow displaced groups to meet.
  • Mission: Invite fellow United Methodists to serve with you through hands-on service, outreach, evangelism and community engagement.

Organize efforts to reach out to individuals and groups who have expressed a desire to remain UMC.

Connect with other Congregations, your District, and the Center for Congregational Excellence to help displaced individuals and groups figure out their best next steps.

What are the steps to becoming a Lighthouse Congregation?

  1. Attend Lighthouse Congregation Training.
    • Pastor(s) and at least two lay leaders must attend.
  2. Form a lay-led “Beacon Team” to drive local church mobilization.
  3. Adopt the Lighthouse Congregation Statement.
    • This is a simple majority vote of the Church Council or Simplified Accountability Board.
  4. Notify your District Office and register online as a Lighthouse Congregation (registration link coming soon!)
    • The registration will include listing the ways your congregation will uphold the responsibilities to Provide, Offer, Organize and Connect.

How do I access the training?

Our Lighthouse Design Team is currently working on building content and organizing in person and online training. Training will include an overview of the Lighthouse Congregation movement, equipping churches to provide  Radical Hospitality, Trauma-Informed Evangelism, Empathy and Grief Care, Community Engagement, and UM Theology and Connectionalism. Complete the Lighthouse Interest Survey to voice your interest, pose your questions, and receive the latest updates as they become available.