May 25, 2023
A Different Gospel sermon series by Rev. Mike Hudson
As you may remember, last year we discussed the theological differences across the denomination and within the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Church Council recommended that we join with other theologically traditional UMC churches in Florida to seek a fair and reasonable exit plan with the leadership of the Florida Conference. After multiple attempts to negotiate with the Florida Conference leadership were not successful, CrossRoad joined with a large group of churches in filing a lawsuit last year to continue the process of pursuing a fair and amicable exit agreement.
Many things have changed since the lawsuit was filed, and the Council voted on April 16th to exit the lawsuit and pursue disaffiliation by paragraph 2553, the current process outlined in the United Methodist Book of Discipline by which churches can leave the denomination.
This remains a recommendation, not a final decision. It is based on a strong and broadly felt desire throughout the congregation to not change any of CrossRoad’s theology, mission, vision or core values. The final decision to leave the United Methodist Church will be made by a vote of the members of the church.
Why did we change our position on the lawsuit?
- The lawsuit was taking a long time, and the current means of disaffiliating sunsets in December of 2023, meaning it will no longer be available after that.
- The major reason to seek a negotiated agreement and subsequently enter the lawsuit was the original estimated cost to disaffiliate under paragraph 2553. The main component of the cost, the Unfunded Pension Liability, has decreased significantly. The “Unfunded Pension Liability” refers to the future amount of pension money that might be needed in addition to what is in reserve today. As interest rates have risen, the Unfunded Pension Liability has gone down by 50% to 65%. This paints a very different financial picture than what we originally faced, meaning it would cost much less now to disaffiliate by paragraph 2553 than when this discussion began.
- Our new Bishop, appointed January 1, 2023, has made significant changes so that there are additional opportunities to depart via paragraph 2553 this year, and has brought a new attitude to the conference.
So where are we today?
We officially exited the lawsuit and notified our District Superintendent that we have done so. The Church Council voted on May 7 to contact the District Superintendent to request a Special Called Church Conference, which is the meeting where the vote of the membership will take place. The District Superintendent provided the date that our church vote will be held and that is Saturday, June 3 at 3:15pm.
This is sooner than we expected but we are committed to doing all that we can to navigate this process well. We will send a letter with this information to the entire membership list so all members will be aware and can plan to be here on June 3. Please also mark your calendars for the following dates:
- Wednesday, May 24 – Voting Details and Prayer Gathering at 6:30pm
We want to explain the voting process so that everyone is clear on what to expect and how the vote will take place. We will share additional details and answer questions so everyone is prepared. We will close this meeting with a time of prayer.
- Sunday, May 28 – Voting Details and Prayer Gathering after church. Same content as the May 24 meeting.
- Saturday, June 3 at 3:15pm – Special Called Church Conference for the purposes of voting on disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church under paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline.
Here is a Frequently Asked Questions Document to help answer some of the questions we have received so far. We are also available to talk with you individually, or you can email your question to the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God has given us such a gift in this body of Christ called CrossRoad Church and we are grateful for you. As we shared at the meeting last week, how we walk through this season together is incredibly important. Let’s continue to offer love and grace to one another because that’s what Jesus modeled for us. Please continue to pray for our church in this season, for unity and protection and peace throughout this process.
With gratitude for our church family and hope for the future,
The Church Council