Delegates to the special General Conference in February 2019 approved two measures, by a two-vote margin, 402-400, that enable churches to exit based on disagreements related to the status of LGBTQ people in the church.
Upholding the legislation, at a session in April, the Judicial Council — the denomination’s top court — spelled out that any disaffiliation must include:
· Approval for disaffiliation by at least a two-thirds majority of a church’s professing members present at the vote.
· Establishment of terms and conditions between the exiting local church and the conference board of trustees.
· Ratification of a church’s disaffiliation by a simple majority at annual conference.
The adopted legislation calls for the resident bishop of each annual conference, with the advice of: the cabinet, annual conference treasurer, annual conference benefits officer, the director of connectional ministries, and annual conference chancellor, to establish the terms and conditions of disaffiliation for congregations discerning to leave based on “matters of conscience.”
Bishop Ough called a task force of members together over the summer to define a process for churches in the Dakotas Conference seeking to disaffiliate before December 31, 2023.
In August 2019, the Commission on General Conference determined enough improper voting likely took place at the 2019 special session to nullify a key vote on how congregations can leave The United Methodist Church.
The Council of Bishops requested the United Methodist Judicial Council to consider the matter of improper voting and nullification of the legislation. In Decision 1386, the Judicial Council noted that “because of our inability to get the information requested during oral argument” it would be best to re-schedule the case.
Despite the questions of validity in voting, the Dakotas Conference task force completed the work of defining procedures for congregations seeking disaffiliation. The process involves first contacting your district superintendent who will walk through the steps of disaffiliation.
Dakotas Conference resources: