OKUMC Step-by-Step Guide to Disaffiliation from the UMC

Based upon the Book of Discipline Par. 2553 as amended and passed by the 2019 Special Called General Conference; congregations that choose to vote to consider remaining United Methodist or disaffiliating must use this process.  It will be valid through December 31, 2023 or until other changes are made to the Book of Discipline in upcoming General Conferences in 2022 or beyond.

Congregations qualified to disaffiliate under the provisions of Par. 2553 are those that “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 self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference, or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues”.

If a congregation wishes to consider leaving the UMC denomination for other reasons, then this document will not be fully applicable, and the requirements of the Book of Discipline will impose both different and additional conditions.  

Phase 1:  Exploration/Preparation

  1. Complete the discernment process: “A Guide for Holy Conversations: Shall We Remain a United Methodist Church or Consider Disaffiliation”. This is a series of prayerful and respectful conversations for congregations determining God’s will in this matter.
  2. Following the report of the discernment of the Holy Conversations Team, the Church Council may choose to vote to request or not to request that the District Superintendent (DS) authorize and schedule a Church Conference for the purpose of voting to remain a UMC or disaffiliate. If a vote of the Church Council is taken, send a copy of the minutes of the meeting to the DS and to the Director of Transitional Ministries (DTM).
  3. If the vote of the Church Council is to make that request for moving forward with the disaffiliation process, the pastor and/or the Church Council chair must contact the DS in writing requesting authorization and scheduling of a Church Conference for that stated purpose. Copy the request to the DTM.
  4. In the case that the Church Council chooses not to request that a Church Conference be held for that stated purpose, 10% of the professing membership may contact the DS in writing to make the request with the pastor being duly notified. Copy the request to the DTM. Par. 248
  5. Leaders read carefully the OKUMC Board of Trustees’ document hereafter “Disaffiliation Agreement”, as the authoritative guide to disaffiliation from which this is an overview. The Disaffiliation Agreement is controlling with respect to any difference between this Step-by-Step Guide and the Disaffiliation Agreement itself.
  6. Prepare for the Church Conference
    1. The DS and DTM confirm the viability of the congregation for disaffiliation with the OKUMC Legacy Committee BEFORE setting a Church Conference date.
    2. The local church will be required to supply the DS and DTM with a complete list of the professing members and retired clergy that relate to that local church as their Charge Conference. If a detailed membership audit has not been completed and affirmed at the most resent Charge Conference, do so prior to turning in the required list. Along with the active and retired pastors, professing members are eligible to vote at the Church Conference.
    3. In some cases, the DS will require, at the expense of the local church, an outside accounting firm to validate and certify 1) those eligible to vote and 2) the results of the ballot. In other cases, the DS will require trained individuals to validate and certify each. Photo IDs will be checked against eligibility rolls prior to the vote. Make appropriate arrangements in consultation with the DS. The DTM will assist you in this matter.
    4. The DS will supply the ballots to be cast with the options: YES, NO, ABSTAIN.
    5. Communicate that no proxy voting will be allowed. All voters must be physically present to vote.
    6. Announce the Church Conference date/time/business according to the requirements in Failure to fulfill these requirements will result in cancellation of the Church Conference.
    7. Carefully plan for setting the bar of the conference (voters, DS, and authorized persons only) in a location that will separate eligible voters from observers. No voter will be allowed to cross the bar of the conference or leave the room while in possession of a ballot.

Phase 2:  The Church Conference Vote 

  1. The DS presides.
  2. Persons authorized by the DS confirm those eligible to vote and the presider sets the bar.
  3. The presider offers a prayer for the congregation that this decision would be pleasing to God.
  4. The vote is taken by confidential written ballot.
  5. Persons authorized by the DS tally the ballots and provide an accurate written ballot report to the presider.
  6. The presider announces the result of the votes.
  7. The Church Conference is concluded. No other business is allowed.
  8. If the result of the vote meets the 2/3rd required to move forward for disaffiliation from the UMC, continue to Phase 3.

Phase 3: The Disaffiliation Process

This process must be completed at least 30 days or more prior to the next scheduled OKUMC Annual Conference.

  1. Following the vote of the congregation, a ratification vote is required by simple majority of the next scheduled OKUMC Annual Conference.
  2. In order for the Ratification vote to be taken these things must be completed:
    1. The local church must provide the OKUMC Board of Trustees an inventory listing of all properties including real, personal, intangible, and including bequests, restricted gifts, mineral rights, and any other property of the local church, without limitation.
    2. Complete the payment or disposition of:
      1. Unpaid OKUMC Annual Conference and District Apportionments for the present year.
      2. Unpaid OKUMC Annual Conference and District Apportionments from previous years (up to 1 year’s-worth of present apportionments)
      3. Payment of compensation and benefits for appointed clergy through the disaffiliation date set forth in the executed Disaffiliation Agreement.
      4. Repayment of any OKUMC Annual Conference or district grants as far back as 2 years from the date of the Church Conference at which the disaffiliation vote was held unless they have been forgiven. (Ex. Equitable compensation, New People New Places, etc.)
      5. The local church’s pro-rata shares of the OKUMC Annual Conference’s unfunded Pension and Underfunded post-retirement clergy medical plan obligations.
      6. All prior year unpaid pension and health insurance outstanding balances.
      7. Unpaid loans to UM entities (Conference, District, Foundation) unless assigned to another legal entity.
      8. All endowments, investment portfolios, memorial bequests and donations, cemeteries, columbarium care, or other designated gifts and their disposition shall be included in a separate agreement entered into 30 days prior to the OKUMC Annual Conference vote to ratify disaffiliation.
    3. Complete the following before the disaffiliation date.
      1. All payments and obligations must be completed before the disaffiliation date.
      2. Return all proper intellectual property to the OKUMC Annual Conference: anything with the logo of the UMC, all church rolls, historic documents, Trustees and Church Council minutes, etc., provided that a copy of roles, historic documents, minutes, and similar records may be retained by the local church. Any historic use of the Cross & Flame (i.e., photos of previous events, documents of previous church activities or meetings, any materials stored in the church archives) will be allowed. Any use of the Cross & Flame indicating current affiliation (i.e., hymnals, church signage, current church letterhead or websites) must be discontinued immediately upon disaffiliation provided that alteration of the corner stones and similar permanent structures shall not be required.
      3. Provide a written list of professing members leaving the UMC, as well as a list of those transferring to other UMCs and the church to which they are transferring in the OKUMC Annual Conference.
      4. Confirm by agreement the care of cemeteries and columbaria.
      5. Get a new EIN number in the name of the newly incorporated entity.
    4. Under the terms of the Disaffiliation Agreement, the Disaffiliation Date will be deferred and delayed until such time as full compliance with Phase 3(b)(2) and 3(b)(3) above have been secured to the satisfaction of the CBOT.
    5. Upon the disaffiliation date:
      1. The local church has full ownership of the property and assets per the disaffiliation agreement on the disaffiliation date.
      2. The OKUMC Annual Conference designates funds toward the purposes for which they were received.
      3. The disaffiliated church will assume all risk of loss with release of claims on the OKUMC and the UMC.
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