Central Texas Conference Sisters and Brothers: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our Special Called Annual Conference meeting on Sept.17 closed a difficult chapter in our Conference’s history. Eighty-one churches were approved for disaffiliation by the annual conference and will be released from The United Methodist Church after they complete the provisions set forth in the disaffiliation resolutions.
This means that now is the time for all continuing United Methodists to unite and focus on all the opportunities ahead of us and reimagine the work that Christ is calling us to do within and beyond the boundaries of our annual conference.
The fall season is upon us, along with all the wonderful nurture, outreach, and witness opportunities it brings. Thanksgiving and Advent/Christmas will be here before we know it!
As such, I have directed our District Superintendents – Revs. Philip Rhodes (East), Beverly Connelly (South/Central), and Danny Tenney (North/West) - to put a moratorium on Church Conferences dealing with disaffiliation for the remainder of this calendar year. Church Conferences to vote on disaffiliation may resume after Jan. 15, 2023, with the intent of having those conferences completed before Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22). There are a couple of church conferences that were scheduled prior to this announcement. I have directed the superintendent to work with these churches to explore all reasonable ways to postpone until January.
This moratorium is not intended to place any church currently discerning the need to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church at a missional, strategic or financial disadvantage. All future resolutions for disaffiliation will be ratified at the 2023 Central Texas Annual Conference, currently scheduled for June 4-7, in Waco. As such, there is no financial advantage to voting in 2022, as churches will still need to meet 2023 Connectional Mission Giving requirements as per the provisions in ¶2553.
Pausing church disaffiliation conferences in the fall allows our district superintendents sufficient time to review 2022 Charge Conference forms, set/plan/convene charge conferences and engage in supervisory and mentoring conversations with the United Methodist clergy in their districts.
Of equal, if not even more import, this suspension of disaffiliation conferences allows our local churches a time to pause, refocus on, and reimagine the work Christ is calling us to do in our communities and world. It also allows us to best prepare for, celebrate, and share the Good News of Christ’s incarnation, who came to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79), and of whose reign there will be no end (Luke 1:33).
I thank you for all you are doing and will do for the advancement of Christ’s reign to come on earth as it is in heaven, and for sharing in our collective mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.
Resident Bishop of the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church