Timeline Related to Matters of Departures - Updated June 2023
Presented by the Bishop, Cabinet, Board of Trustees, & Conference Chancellor
A note from the Bishop
I want to express my appreciation for the 274 churches who have chosen to remain United Methodist and those who heard my call to refrain from holding discussions around leaving the denomination until we have more information after General Conference. To the clergy of the South Georgia Conference, I appreciate your faithfulness to your call and covenant all while leading your churches in a most difficult season. To the laity of the South Georgia Conference, thank you for your leadership and support.
This has been a hard season, and as the Cabinet, conference leadership, and I look ahead to 2024 we will honor the process we said we would follow in regards to departures while also providing the best approach to allow necessary conversations on the conference and local church level.
Below is a timeline for 2024 we feel offers the best framework for both the South Georgia Conference and our local churches to make decisions coming out of General Conference. Through prayerful discernment, I am confident this provides us the time and space in which together we can plan for the future of South Georgia.
January 1, 2024
New departure policy takes effect under ¶2549 of the Book of Discipline under terms set by the Conference Trustees.
Please note: The official language in effect beginning Jan. 2, 2024, under ¶2549, will be “departure” not disaffiliation.
April 23 – May 3, 2024
The postponed 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Please note: Your district superintendents and other conference leaders are available to answer questions and speak at your church prior to the General Conference, but it is our hope that local churches will postpone any discernment process until after the General Conference meets when we will have more information.
Conference leadership will have conversations to process and understand decisions made at the General Conference and prepare to present information to clergy and lay members during the June 2-5, 2024 Annual Conference session.
June 2 - 5, 2024
Regular Annual Conference Session in June. Annual Conference will be a time to worship and conduct normal business and will be a time to fully inform clergy and lay members of decisions made at the General Conference.
Please note: Requests for departure will not be considered at the regular June Annual Conference session.
June 10, 2024
Informal meetings scheduled with the District Superintendents may begin at this time for any church wanting to depart at the called August 17, 2024 session. Note that an informal meeting led by the District Superintendent or his or her designee must precede any Church Conference for the purpose of departure. Churches will use these informal meetings to discern their future and decide whether or not to request from the District Superintendent a date for a Church Conference. Once an informal meeting is held, the church is free to schedule with the District Superintendent a church conference during this time should they choose to do so.
July 15, 2024
Last day a local church may inform their District Superintendent that they wish to have a called Church Conference to vote on departure.
July 31, 2024
Last day a Church Conference can be held to vote on departure for the August 2024 Called Annual Conference session.
August 17, 2024
Special Called Annual Conference to ratify final local church departures under trustees provision. This session will be held in Macon on August 17, 2024.
Official Call for the August 17 session
Bishop David Graves, episcopal leader of the South Georgia Annual Conference, in accordance with ¶603.5 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, calls for a special session of the annual conference on Saturday, August 17, 2024, at Mulberry Street UMC in Macon, Ga.
The sole purpose of the special called session of the Annual Conference is to complete the process of ratifying the current requests for departures of local churches. These churches must meet the requirements in accordance with the process put forth by the Conference Trustees under ¶2549 that honors the terms of South Georgia’s disaffiliation policy through December 31, 2024. The churches requesting departure must meet the published South Georgia Conference deadlines.
The voting membership of the special session will consist of the clergy members of the annual conference as defined in ¶32 of the Book of Discipline and the lay members of the June 2024 Annual Conference (lay member or alternate, whoever was last seated in the June annual conference) in accordance with the Book of Discipline ¶602.5.