Q&A: Mt Bethel UMC

 

September 8 Update from the Conference Board of Trustees

Attorneys for the Board of Trustees of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church have filed the necessary paperwork with the Cobb County Superior Court to move the ongoing issues with Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church toward resolution.

While the Conference and its representatives have engaged in negotiations with local church officials and have made good faith efforts to resolve the issues without litigation, the current situation has not changed and it is untenable. The Conference Board of Trustees will continue to take all necessary and appropriate actions to ensure compliance with the tradition and the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.
 

Mediation Update from the Conference Board of Trustees

 

On Saturday, August 28, 2021, The Trustees of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, Inc. and Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, Inc. took part in a day-long mediation searching for ways to resolve ongoing issues.

A good faith effort was made by all parties, but an agreement could not be reached. Conference leaders are now discerning next steps.

"The representatives of the Conference entered this process open and willing to fully participate in mediation as a way to resolve this matter," said Julie Childs, chair of the Conference Board of Trustees. "We remain committed to reaching a resolution that honors the mission of The United Methodist Church and our responsibilities as leaders."


 

Background and Definitions


Book of Discipline

The Book of Discipline outlines the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work, and procedures of The United Methodist Church. Each General Conference (global meeting) of The United Methodist Church amends The Book of Discipline, and the actions of the General Conference are reflected in quadrennial revisions. 
 

Trust Clause

In The United Methodist Church, church assets are held “in trust for the benefit of the entire denomination.”

The United Methodist Trust Clause is a part of church law whereby every church building and church assets are held “in trust for the benefit of the entire denomination.”

Book of Discipline ¶ 2501: “All properties of United Methodist local churches and other United Methodist agencies and institutions are held, in trust, for the benefit of the entire denomination, and ownership and usage of church property is subject to the Discipline. This trust requirement is an essential element of the historic polity of The United Methodist Church or its predecessor denominations or communions and has been a part of the Discipline since 1797.

 

Conference Board of Trustees

Like many organizations, the North Georgia Conference holds and is responsible to steward a variety of property assets aimed at supporting its mission, which in our case is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our Board of Trustees is charged with the responsibility, and is vested with the authority, to steward property assets held in trust by our Annual Conference, on behalf of our Annual Conference. In addition to receiving, collecting, and holding in trust such assets, another critically important dimension of this Board’s responsibility, as outlined in our Book of Discipline, is to “intervene and take all necessary legal steps to safeguard and protect the interests and rights of the annual conference anywhere and in all matters relating to property and rights to property whether arising by gift, devise, or otherwise, or where held in trust or established for the benefit of the annual conference or its membership.” (Book of Discipline ¶ 2512)

 

Appointment Process

“Itinerancy” refers specifically to the commitment made by pastors to go and serve wherever their bishop sends them.

Before they are ordained or licensed, clergy in The United Methodist Church agree to serve where their bishop appoints them. Appointments are for one year at a time. For full-time ordained clergy, the goal is to match the gifts and graces of the particular pastor with the ministry needs of a particular congregation in a particular season. In this leadership pattern, no two consecutive pastors are alike – over time, the combination of skills blends to form a broad base of developed ministries.

While bishops make appointments, they incorporate a consultative process outlined in The Book of Discipline that includes district superintendents, pastors, and staff/parish relations committees. The needs and desires of clergy are considered, and ultimately “the mission of the church comes first.”