Dear Friends of the South Georgia Conference,
In my journey this Fall that took me all over the South Georgia Conference, it occurred to me that it would be helpful to share with you several reasons why I choose to remain United Methodist. I feel a deep sense of calling from God to stay at the table and to be part of the future of this great denomination that has been such a witness for Christ. I hope you will see my heart in the reasons “Why I Love Being a United Methodist.”
I have shared with you all in various settings that I am a United Methodist pastor and bishop, and I firmly believe a future UMC needs traditional, orthodox members as well as progressive members, centrist members, and everyone in between. A church cannot effectively reach the least, the lost, and the lonely if it is of one mind on every topic. It takes us all to challenge and encourage one another in our discipleship efforts and our spiritual journey.
I have fielded questions about many relevant denominational topics during meetings this September with laity and clergy. However, my heart was warmed to know that many people attended these sessions in order to better understand what the future of The United Methodist Church looks like and what laity can do to encourage their church to remain United Methodist.
Your District Superintendents, conference leadership, and I have spent a lot of time helping churches get to where they need to be. Now as we move forward, I want you to know my commitment is focusing on the people and churches of the great South Georgia Conference and moving forward in this next season of ministry together.
Below are resources I hope you will find helpful and hopeful as together we live into the bright future God has called us to.
My prayers are with each of you, and I welcome your prayers as we continue to focus on mission and ministry.
Bishop David Graves
Episcopal Address from Bishop Graves at Annual Conference
Lay Leader Address from J. Knapp at Annual Conference
Bishop Graves answers the question: “Is there a place for me in The United Methodist Church”?
Bishop Graves answers the question: “What gives you hope about the future of The United Methodist Church?”
Bishop Graves answers the question: “If you were pastoring a local church right now how would you be leading them?”
Bishop Graves answers the question: “Can you say more about how we can focus on leading and not leaving?”
Bishop Graves answers the question: “What would you say to clergy and churches who are committed to remaining in The United Methodist Church as we walk through a discernment process for the Annual Conference over the next two years?”
FAQs with Bishop Graves - March 2022
FAQs with Bishop Graves - October 2022
Ask The UMC: Is The UMC Really...? series: With some congregations considering leaving The United Methodist Church or just wondering about its future, Ask The UMC offers a series of questions and answers to help clear up some common misperceptions or misinformation around disaffiliation.
Ask The UMC: What is the Church's position on homosexuality? Read this article from Ask The UMC regarding one of the most asked questions about the denomination.
#BeUMC Campaign: #BeUMC honors the core values that connect the people of The United Methodist Church. No matter the challenges we face, God is with us, and we continue to have opportunities to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!
People of God #BeUMC Campaign: The People of God campaign celebrates the core values that connect the people of The United Methodist Church. We are faithful, Jesus-seeking, missional, committed, spirit-filled, deeply rooted, connected, resilient, justice-seeking and diverse people of God.
Q: I am a lay person and think my congregation will vote to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. I want to remain a United Methodist. What can I do?
The South Georgia Conference is committed to ensuring all persons who wish to remain a United Methodist will be able to do so even if their congregation disaffiliates. Conference Leadership is actively developing plans to start new congregations and ministries in areas where current United Methodist congregations vote to leave the denomination. These will include new churches, house churches, fresh expressions, and more. All laity who wish to remain United Methodists but are part of a congregation planning to disaffiliate should contact their District Superintendent who will help you connect with nearby United Methodist congregations or new ministries.
Q: What happens if our pastor decides to leave The United Methodist Church, but our congregation wishes to continue as a United Methodist church?
The Bishop will appoint a new pastor to your congregation.
Q: What happens if our congregation votes to disaffiliate from the UMC, but our pastor wants to remain in The United Methodist Church?
Once your congregation’s disaffiliation is complete, you will no longer be appointed a pastor by the South Georgia Conference. Your pastor will receive a new appointment, and it will be up to your congregation to secure your congregation’s pastoral leadership.
Q: What do United Methodists believe?
The United Methodist Church is founded on a Wesleyan theology of grace which is anchored in Scripture, and professes faith in the teachings, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the continuing movement of the Holy Spirit.
The Articles of Religion, Confessions of Faith, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, The Explanatory Notes on the New Testament, and The General Rules: Do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God are our doctrinal standards as stated in The Book of Discipline.
They are our theological foundation for faith, and the ministry and mission of the church in the world. This is what we believe as United Methodists.
Though we do hold our doctrinal standards in common, our Wesleyan heritage reminds us that Christians are not called to be of one mind on all matters. In other words, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
Q: What makes the UMC "connectional"?
It was John Wesley himself, the founder of the Methodist movement, who first organized his followers into a connexion. Ever since, The United Methodist Church and its predecessors have proudly called themselves a connectional church.
Together we do more than we could do alone. From how we practice stewardship to camping and retreat ministry to communion, the connection is at the core of what it means to be The United Methodist Church. Read more in this article at ResourceUMC.org.