Wespath’s Thoughts on Disaffiliation Scenarios

Wespath has been planning for various potential scenarios that might affect the future structure of The United Methodist Church (UMC), with emphasis on assuring that clergy benefits remain as secure as possible. Since the postponement of General Conference was announced, we have received questions from many individuals throughout the denomination regarding the impact of various disaffiliation scenarios on pension benefits and withdrawal liability. We have also seen incorrect information regarding the pension impact in emails, social media, and other sources. For example, several sources have made inaccurate statements that a local church or group of churches that separates from the UMC can “take its pension obligations with it” and “avoid a pension withdrawal liability payment.” We have updated FAQs and created briefer, more focused FAQs to address those statements and other questions.

In addition, Wespath has added a session to the Conference Forum Agenda for Friday to discuss the General Conference postponement and related disaffiliation topics.

Disaffiliation Impact on Clergy Benefits

To aid in understanding how changing a clergyperson’s relationship with The United Methodist Church impacts benefits (retirement, health, disability and death benefits), we’ve been asked to provide a quick summary of the impact of surrendering credentials to join another denomination. This chart provides a high-level summary of impacts on active and retired clergy. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to your Wespath Client Relationship Manager or Client Services Manager. These older FAQs also provide some details (pages 10-13).

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a general agency of The United Methodist Church

Arkansas UM Clergywomen Spring Retreat 2022

All Arkansas Clergywomen are invited to a Spring Retreat!

This will be a wonderful day led by Elaine Robinson Beattie! This event is sponsored by the generosity of the Methodist Foundation for Arkansas so there is no cost to participants but registration is required.

“Today more than ever, it’s hard to create “balance.” Our lives are full of ministry, families, children, and community obligations. These obligations are what make it tough to say that we will live a life of “balance. This gathering is a time for us to acknowledge that we will be swamped sometimes in our lives, and at other times it’s more moderately paced. Nonetheless, I think it’s essential for us to be intentional about planning, scheduling, and identifying priorities so that we can flow through our days, weeks, and months. It’s time to reframe, reset, and re-create a new rhythm. The battle is between our commitment to practicing self-care to break through the busyness and living a life of intention, focus, and internal peace.”
We hope you’ll join us!

Bishops seek ruling on whether an annual conference can leave UMC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is requesting a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on whether an annual conference can separate from the denomination under the provision of the Book of Discipline.

During a special meeting COB held via Zoom and through electronic balloting, the bishops approved a request to ask the church’s top court to address six questions:

              Question 1: May an annual conference of the United Methodist Church (“UMC”) within the United States separate from the UMC under the Discipline?

Question 2: Since ¶ 572 of the Discipline already provides a process for annual conferences outside the United States to separate from the UMC “to become an autonomous Methodist, affiliated autonomous Methodist, or affiliated united church,” should the process and requirements of ¶ 572 be viewed as minimum standards devised by the General Conference for any annual conference to separate from the UMC under the holding in Decision 1366?

              Question 3: Pursuant to Judicial Council Decision 1366, must the General Conference first act to establish the procedure and requirements for separation of an annual conference within the United States before a vote can be taken by the annual conference to separate from the UMC?

Question 4: If an annual conference within the United States takes a vote to separate from the UMC but the General Conference has not established the procedure and requirements for separation of an annual conference, what is the effect of the vote and what authority, if any, does the annual conference have to act on the vote and legally effect a separation?

              Question 5: If an annual conference within the United States may separate from the UMC, what are the requirements under the Discipline for a separation, including, but not limited to:
(a) the bodies (such as jurisdictional conferences and other annual conferences in addition to the separating annual conference) that must vote to approve the separation and the required vote(s);
(b) matters of church law related to use of the name United Methodist, or any part thereof, use of the UMC Cross & Flame or other intellectual property, including the United Methodist Hymnal;
(c) maintenance of retirement benefits and compliance with civil law and the requirements of WESPATH concerning the same;
(d) compliance with any applicable state law requirements, including such requirements related to foundations, credit unions, title to real property, and the annual conference’s articles of incorporation; and
(e) disposition of property held in trust for the denomination pursuant to the UMC’s trust clause, such as endowments, designated funds (including funds for specific ministries of the UMC), cemetery associations, camps, historical records and archives, and any other property held in the name of the separating annual conference?

Question 6: Must any separation of an annual conference from the UMC provide dissenting members, local churches, districts, clergy, and affiliated entities such as camps, Wesley Foundations, and health facilities an option to remain a part of the UMC and join another annual conference?

The bishops are asking for an expedited ruling so that there is consistency among the annual conferences and to avoid action by individual annual conferences that may violate the Discipline.

“Delay in issuing the request for declaratory decision will increase frustration and anxiety among persons within the UMC and will likely cause harm not only to the denomination but to local churches, districts, annual conference institutions and related entities, pastors, and jurisdictions,” stated the bishops’ request.

About the Council of Bishops: The Council of Bishops Council serves as the Executive Branch of The United Methodist Church government.

Application Deadline Extended for Church and Society Summer Internship Program for College Students of Color

The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) announced that applications for the Ethnic Young Adult Internship (EYA) 2022 program have been extended to March 20, 2022. EYA internships offer students of color experience working in Washington, D.C. with GBCS and partner organizations for social advocacy and justice.

“EYA Interns participate in weekly seminars exploring faith, identity, and various justice issues. They are introduced to The United Methodist Church’s history of social action and our United Methodist Social Principles. EYA Interns learn from staff about the work of justice, peace, and advocacy and engage in weekly devotions and opportunities for faith formation and vocational discernment,” explained The Rev.  Katie Monfortte, GBCS Education Program Coordinator.

This year, the EYA program is scheduled for June 5 through July 30, 2022.

“The lasting impact on my development cultivated the idea that spiritual and professional growth can be connected,” says Litany Esguerra a Filipino-American EYA program alumni. “EYA was a driving factor in demonstrating how my internship focus can be interpreted in a modern context through scripture and social justice.”

During the eight-week program, EYA interns are paid and receive full housing in Washington, D.C. directly across from the United States Supreme Court on Capitol Hill.

“My time with EYA and living in D.C. was an energizing experience,” continued Esguerra. “This energy led me to pursue an internship with the Obama Foundation; work abroad in rural community healthcare with an NGO in Jamkhed, India; and pursue a master’s degree in disability studies at the University of Leeds in the UK.”

For students to qualify for the EYA Program they must:

  • Be a member of The United Methodist Church
  • Be 18 to 22 years old (Central Conference interns are accepted up to 24 years old)
  • Be at the academic level of rising sophomore, junior or senior in college/university studies or employed full-time
  • Show active leadership and participation in the local church/community and involvement in social justice activities
  • Self-identify as a person of color

All qualified students are encouraged to apply before March 20, 2022. For the full program description and application information visit: https://www.umcjustice.org/internships


United Methodist Higher Education Foundation Extends Scholarship Application Deadline

Nashville, TN – The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation (UMHEF) has extended its scholarship application deadline for the 2022-2023 academic year to March 15 after receiving several requests for more time to complete requirements during this challenging time.

Students who are members of The United Methodist Church and planning to attend a United Methodist-related school, college, university, or seminary full-time are eligible to apply. UMHEF awards more than $2 million in financial aid annually.

To learn about UMHEF scholarship programs, eligibility requirements, and how to apply, visit https://umhef.org/apply. As part of its extensive library of scholarships, select awards are available for ethnically diverse students, including those who plan to attend UM-related HBCUs. In rare cases, students attending schools not UM-related may also qualify for awards and are invited to apply for the General Named Endowed program.

Please note that UMHEF is a private non-profit organization and is not affiliated with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church.

Public Relations Contact: Teresa Tysinger, ttysinger@umhef.org / (615)649-3975