The Woodlands Methodist Church disaffiliated from the Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in 2022.
As it considers the options for future affiliation, each church must choose a discernment pathway that best reflects its theological beliefs, core values and Christian mission in the world. Other key factors for consideration include matters of business formation, finance, clergy benefits, pensions and credentials, and property.
At TWMC, the discernment study group is comprised of Senior Pastor Mark Sorensen, members of the clergy team, executive staff, attorneys and a select team of lay volunteers representing the administrative board, finance committee, pastor parish relations committee and the board of trustees.
Option 1: Affiliate with another Methodist Denomination
As traditionalists look to other, conservative expressions of Methodism, there is a desire to retain the classic Wesleyan model of congregational connectionalism — that is, moving together in the direction of growth and renewal not as individual churches, but as a network of churches that are theologically and socially aligned.
The discernment team at TWMC recognizes the value in maintaining the connectional model, for the purposes of upholding its historic, Wesleyan tradition and for laying the groundwork for future growth and vitality that only comes in shared community.
Currently, one Methodist denomination offers TWMC viable opportunities for connection, renewal and revival in the future: Global Methodist Church.
Global Methodist Church (Website)
Launched on May 1, 2022, the Global Methodist Church (GMC) is the new expression of traditional theology, and now serves as an alternative to the continuing United Methodist Church / post-separation UMC (psUMC). The GMC is the result of a multiyear collaboration of The Wesley Covenant Association, Good News, the Confessing Movement and other conservative stakeholders within the UMC.
As a new denomination, the GMC’s structure and administration are early in development. It is led by a 17-member Transitional Leadership Council representing congregations and clergy in the United States, the Philippines, Eastern Europe and Africa. Its inaugural general conference is set to convene 12-18 months from now.
The GMC model is being created with a leaner organizational structure, giving more autonomy and authority to local congregations while maintaining strong cross-connectional ties.
The GMC is on record as upholding and enforcing the current UMC Book of Discipline regarding marriage and human sexuality, as well as a pro-life stance except in tragic conflicts of life against life. It offers new members relief from the UMC property trust clause, and no guaranteed appointments for clergy.
Option 2: Become an independent church affiliated with other large Methodist churches
Becoming an independent congregation carries a different set of considerations compared to affiliating with another Methodist denomination.
There are financial and legal distinctions, and, in some case, they are more favorable, such as freedom from paying apportionments to a parent denomination.
With freedom comes more organizational responsibility and risk (for example, maintaining all provisions for clergy benefits and retirement independently).
Securing independence from The United Methodist Church ensured relief from theological and social misalignment of past decades and from the UMC’s ineffective and outdated oversight model. However, this relief comes at the expense of any official connection with like-minded clergy and congregations. Informal, ad hoc alliances are forming among UMC congregations that part ways with the UMC and aren’t ready to affiliate with a different denomination.
One such alliance is the Foundry Network of large Methodist Churches, which launched on September 1, 2022. While it offers a small, yet focused and nimble alternative to Wesleyan connectionalism, it exists largely on informal, non-binding participation of pastors and offers no official support structures for clergy benefits, ordination and governance.
Assuming the independent model, the creation of additional structure should be considered in order to maintain a healthy culture of transparency and accountability throughout the organization.