UMC Happenings

What’s going on in the UMC?

Easy-to-understand updates from Pastor Shiloh…

Special Called Sessions & Disaffiliation Conversations
December 6, 2022

There have been lot of conversations happening in The United Methodist world within the last week, especially if you are in the South Central Jurisdiction.  (Remember from our last article, we are located in the South Central Jurisdiction and the entire state of Texas is a part of the SCJ.)

This past Saturday, December 3, both the Texas Annual Conference and the Northwest Texas Conference held Special Called Sessions of their respective Annual Conferences.  The agenda for both conferences were centered around the discussion of disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church.  Both the Texas Conference and the Northwest Texas Conference voted to approve the disaffiliation of churches from their conferences.  It is believed that most of the churches disaffiliating are planning to join the Global Methodist Church.  (What is the Global Methodist Church? The GMC is the more conservative break-off branch from the UMC that disagrees with a sizable portion of the general UMC on issues of marriage equality, the ordination of LGBTQIA+, and human sexuality, along with other issues.)

On Saturday, the Texas Annual Conference (TAC) approved the disaffiliation of 294  out of their overall 598 congregations or 49% separating from the UMC.  The Northwest Texas Conference (NWTX) approved the disaffiliation of 145 churches that voted to leave.  That breaks down to just a little less than 75% of the overall 201 congregations.   This is a total 439 churches on Saturday that were approved to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church effective on January 1, 2023.

Before the TAC and NWTX conferences held their Special Called Sessions, both the Central Texas Conference and the North Texas Conference gave the green light to a number of churches in both conferences to disaffiliate.  So far, the Central Texas Conference has allowed the departure of 81 churches from its overall 185 congregations.  Whereas, the North Texas Conference has given the okay for 44 churches to disaffiliate from their overall 276 congregations.  Currently, out of the over 30,000 United Methodist Churches in the U.S., less than 2000 have chosen to disaffiliate, with a large number coming from Texas. 

Through our connectional system we are able to accomplish more and be in relationship with more than any one church, ministry, or person could ever alone.

So, what does this mean for us?

This logically means there is lots of stress and uncertainty currently present and being felt in The United Methodist world.  But this does not mean that this is the end.  This is a time when we should be leaning into our Methodist Connectionalism more than ever.  There are those who will be left in their respective conferences with no ties to a local United Methodist congregation.  Since the beginning of Methodism, connection has been central to our system.  Our denomination to this day has been designed to be a connectional system which enables us “to carry out our mission in unity and strength.” (Book of Discipline, ¶701)

Through our connectional system we are able to accomplish more and be in relationship with more than any one church, ministry, or person could ever alone.  Travis Park Church holds a unique position in our conference and the world, and we should be willing to extend our hands and hearts in love to others in our overall denomination who are currently finding themselves alone and separated from the overall United Methodist Church.  Our fight is not over yet, but we are not alone in this.  As a young, queer person I give thanks and praise to God for congregations like Travis Park Church and the people who are a part our wonderful church who actively live into our mission of “unconditional love and justice in action.”

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Shiloh

South Central Jurisdictional Conference Update
November 11, 2022

Last week, all five of the Jurisdictional Conferences met.

What are the Jurisdictional Conferences? In the United States, The United Methodist Church is divided into five different areas. These areas are known as jurisdictions. The five jurisdictions are: Northeastern, Southeastern, North Central, South Central, and Western. (Travis Park Church is in the South Central Jurisdiction.) Just like with General Conference, the Jurisdictional Conference meets every four years, but the purpose of the Jurisdictional Conference is to elect new bishops in the jurisdiction and select members of general boards and agencies.Our jurisdiction, the South Central Jurisdiction (SJC), met in Houston from November 2 – 5. It is my personal belief that we should actively be celebrating some of the great and exciting things that have come out from the SCJ! The Centrist-Progressive Delegate Coalition helped to make a real difference this past week after many months of preparation.Last week, the SCJ:

  1. Elected the FIRST Black clergywoman in the SCJ (Rev. Dee Williamston)
  2. Elected the FIRST Native American bishop in ALL of the UMC (Rev. David Wilson)
  3. Elected TWO clergywomen in the same year
  4. Elected all the needed bishops on the same ballot (this might not have been done since the 1800s!)
  5. Elected all needed bishops on the very first ballot!

Fun fact from the Rio Texas Annual Conference, as we celebrated in the newsletter last week: Rev. Laura Merrill, Capital District Superintendent (Austin area) was elected bishop and will serve the Arkansas Conference!

I am looking forward to celebrating the exciting and GOOD things that are currently happening in The United Methodist Church in future newsletter articles. Currently, there are many exciting things to celebrate in the United Methodist Church! May we all continue to “do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

– Grace and Peace,Shiloh

South Central Jurisdiction Bishop Assignments:

  • Arkansas: Laura Merrill
  • Central & North Texas: Ruben Saenz Jr.
  • Great Plains: David Wilson
  • Louisiana: Dee Williamston
  • Missouri: Robert Farr
  • New Mexico & Rio Texas: Robert Schnase
  • Oklahoma, Oklahoma Indian, & Northwest Texas: Jimmy Nunn
  • Texas: Cynthia Fierro Harvey
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