Judicial Council Decision No. 696 in 1993 ruled that there is no disciplinary provision authorizing ordained United Methodist clergy to hold membership simultaneously in another denomination. Upon joining another denomination, membership in The United Methodist Church is terminated — meaning appointments are terminated, pastoral licenses are terminated, and conference membership is withdrawn. Those interested in ordination in another denomination should research that denomination’s procedures.
Ordained clergy withdrawing to unite with another denomination return their Certificate of Conference Membership to the Conference Secretary (BOD ¶360.1).
Ordained clergy withdrawing from the Ministerial Office must return to the Conference Secretary their Certificate of Ordination and, where applicable, their Certificate of Conference Membership (BOD ¶360.2).
Provisional members withdrawing to unite with another denomination, “their action shall be considered a request for discontinuance and their credentials shall be surrendered to a district superintendent” for deposit with the secretary of the annual conference (BOD ¶327.6).
The status of licensed local pastor is always tied to the episcopal appointment of the local pastor to a pastoral charge. A pastoral license is only valid when the holder of the license is appointed by the bishop to a United Methodist Church. This is also true for a retired local pastor. A retired local pastor who moves out of the denomination to serve a church which has voted to disaffiliate will be discontinued as a licensed pastor. It is important to understand that once discontinued, you will no longer possess a clergy license unless and until you receive one from another source.
Records/files are not shared with other denominations. Upon request of the disaffiliating clergy person, The Central Texas Conference Office can submit a letter of status and standing to other denomination officials. Clergy designated as in “good standing” must have completed Sexual Ethics Training, be current with Course of Study requirements [applies only to Local Pastors], and are not under formal Complaint.
Health insurance will be terminated immediately upon withdrawal. Clergy will be eligible for continuation coverage through HealthFlex (similar to COBRA) in their currently enrolled medical plan unless the clergy member immediately transfers to a disaffiliated church/group of churches that sponsors HealthFlex in an eligible category. The full cost will be the responsibility of the clergy member. Continuation coverage is not available with respect to dental, full-service/premium vision, or reimbursement accounts.
Eligibility for disability benefit through CPP will cease.
Eligibility for the death benefit will cease, as will spousal benefits and educational benefits for children of deceased clergy.
Wespath has provided additional information, including the impact on pension benefits, on Clergy Withdrawals – Impact on Benefits of Terminating Annual Conference Relationship.
Your new employer may provide similar benefits. Clergy will want to be aware of what benefits they have lost and decide which ones will need to be provided for in another manner. Wespath has provided information on Benefit Plan Opportunities for churches that disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church.