By Jessica Brodie
While we still think the South Carolina Conference should be more candid about which churches have voted to leave the denomination and how many churches they comprise, we do appreciate a new effort this annual conference has started: resourcing people who wish to stay United Methodist.
In our front-page article, “Churches Grow More Vocal about Staying or Leaving UMC,” we share about that effort, titled Engaging Possibilities, which is designed to help South Carolina United Methodists who would like to remain with the UMC but their local church has voted to separate from the denomination. Found at https://umcsc.org/engage, the resources are a step in the right direction.
While the Find-a-Church tool doesn’t differentiate between churches who plan to stay in or leave the UMC, it is a helpful way to find other churches in a local community. And the “new expressions” of church concept is refreshing, as many people are indeed seeking new ways to be God’s church in a changing world.
However, we’d love to see this effort go deeper, perhaps mimicking the “lighthouse congregations” concept embraced by the North Carolina and Western North Carolina conferences (see Page 14). While we love the idea of starting or developing new churches, we also have a lot of existing United Methodist churches who would like to welcome new members with open arms. Sharing the names of churches who are deciding to stay in the denomination and nurture those feeling displaced would be helpful in a time of uncertainty.
We respect the decisions of churches who have voted to leave the UMC, as well as those who are committing to stay. After Annual Conference, we should have a better idea of the impact this annual conference is facing.
For now, let’s unite in prayer as we remain strong in representing the Lord and drawing others to him—even, and especially, in a time of flux.
Yes, we are Methodists. But we are Christians, first.