The United Methodist Church in the United States has an abundance of possibilities before it. People throughout our nation need the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Yet, the majority of the United Methodist Church in the United States no longer has control over its mission fields, nor its ministry priorities to transform lives. Paragraph 101 in the Book of Discipline allows flexibility in the rules for the churches outside the United States, but this is not reciprocated to the U.S. Church. The 2019 General Conference has made it clear that our global governance structure is irreparably broken and is actively harming the Christian witness in the United States. It is time for a new governance structure that gives every region of the world autonomy over reaching our distinct mission fields.
Mainstream UMC campaigned with a broad coalition at the 2019 General Conference to work for unity in the church through the One Church Plan. Nearly 2/3 of the U.S. delegates voted for the One Church Plan to allow for regional differences. The General Conference delegates, primarily from outside the U.S., answered the call for unity with a call for division. Eighty percent of the delegates from outside the United States voted to certify, punish, and evict the 2/3 of the U.S. church that seeks to allow differences.
The Traditional Plan is not a plan for the United States. It is a plan that is being imposed upon the majority of the U.S. church, against our collective will. The church in the United States is the economic engine of the global church. The annual conferences in the U.S. fund $600 million of the current $604 million quadrennial budget (99.3%) of the United Methodist Church. Yet, the U.S. only has 56% of the delegates to determine how to spend these resources.
We need to continue to be in mission and ministry around the world, but we cannot afford to fund a governance structure that is actively harming the church in the United States. It is time for new, autonomous governance structures for all churches around the world that would both connect us in ways that lift up our common purpose and give room for all of us to be faithful to the mission fields we serve.
Mainstream UMC is committed to working with any individuals, churches, and organizations who would seek an expression of Methodism that is filled with grace and has space within it to celebrate conservatives, centrists, and progressives.
- What form does that church take?
- Would the larger, 2/3 of the U.S. church retain the apparatus of the United Methodist Church if the Wesleyan Covenant Association and others accepted a gracious exit?
- Should we re-imagine some version of the Connectional Conference Plan where we have clear separation under the same umbrella? Is this enough space between ideologies?
- Do we form two or three new denominations in the U.S.?
- Do we need to work outside of the General Conference that is incapable of action?
- What are the costs and legal issues and risks involved?
- How do we address the unsustainable imbalances within the global nature of the church?
There are more questions than answers right now. There is an unmistakable sense of urgency. The vast majority of the U.S. church will not abide the harmful actions of the 2019 General Conference. Currently, the denomination is out of step with the faith and practice of the U.S. church. We need change now. Mainstream UMC is poised to facilitate conversations and actions to craft and form a expressions of Methodism with regional autonomy.
Mainstream UMC does not intend to serve as a long-term advocacy group. We initially formed for one year to campaign for the One Church Plan. Our Advisory Board has decided to continue our work for another year, through June 2020. We believe that the United Methodist Church is at a generational crossroads and there is a sense of urgency to thoughtfully shape the future.
Our current advocacy is an acknowledgement that our current global structure is irreparably broken. We need to explore the pros and cons of different structures that give the U.S. churches and others around the globe autonomy over the witness of our churches. We must have a U.S. church that is open and inclusive of different points of view.
- Advocate for autonomous regional Methodist churches. We need to unite the 2/3 of the U.S. church and the few like-minded Methodists around the world under a graceful expression of the Methodist church. We cannot have delegates from outside our mission field taking harmful votes that impact our churches. There is also a strong consensus that we want to be a U.S. church about grace that not only has room for, but celebrates conservatives, centrists, and progressives. Other churches in the U.S. and around the globe should have control over their mission fields as well.
- Communicate activities and conversations from across the connection. Meetings are popping up everywhere about what is next. This is great! It is important that these various dots be connected so everyone can keep up with where the dialogue is headed. Mainstream UMC is not in charge of these various meetings, but we would like to help facilitate communications between groups and those in the pews who want to help shape what is happening.
- Hold groups accountable for harming others. Several advocacy groups have pushed an agenda for years that harms LGBTQ persons and their allies. These groups have operated for decades in our church without any checks and balances to their messaging. Mainstream UMC will continue to call out false and harmful information.
- Provide opportunities for healing. Many people in our United Methodist Churches are wounded and grieving from the actions of GC 2019 and the mean-spirited Traditional Plan. Mainstream UMC strives to offer opportunities for healing and centering with our coalition.
- Highlight the resistance, now through GC 2020. Many individuals, churches, and annual conferences are publicly defying the harmful rules of the Traditional Plan. Mainstream UMC wants to communicate all the great ideas so they can be duplicated in other areas. We will also partner for resistance at GC 2020 to ensure no more harmful legislation is passed.
- Host an on-line forum. Mainstream UMC is setting up a web-based forum to allow for the exchange of ideas about what is next. It will also be a place that the best thinking of various groups can post ideas to receive input and feedback. This will be a troll-free zone. Only positive suggestions and constructive feedback.
- Build consensus. As ideas emerge and a direction forms, there will be a need to build consensus across the connection to get it done. We do not want to splinter the 2/3 of the U.S. church into multiple small entities. We have a powerful witness together. All of the work Mainstream UMC will be doing for the next year will be focused on building consensus.
- Reignite our passion for loving Christ and our Neighbors. The morale in our church is low following General Conference 2019. Most of us are humiliated to be associated with a church that does harm. We need to reignite our passion for the work of the church. The Body of Christ, the church, is not broken. Our governance structure is broken. Together, we can fix this.
Staffing & Budget
Mainstream UMC primarily focused our efforts in 2018-2019 on the delegates to GC 2019. For the coming year, we will broaden our focus to reach those in the pews to build consensus across the connection. We will continue to advocate with delegates at GC 2020. To accomplish this new vision, we will continue with our full-time Executive Director. We also plan to strategically hire part-time administrative support and some additional technical support to moderate on-line forums. To accommodate the administrative support and on-line moderating, we will increase our 2019-2020 budget from $250,000 to $300,000. We believe this will allow the caliber of outreach the church needs at this time.
We are asking individuals and churches to consider a pledge for the next year, July 2019 through June 2020 to support the work of Mainstream UMC.
Churches: We ask that churches make a monthly commitment or raise money for a one-time gift. We ask churches to consider gifts of $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, or $10,000.
Individuals: We ask individuals to make either a one-time gift or consider a monthly pledge for the next year.
___ $25 per month ($300 for the year)
___ $50 per month ($600 for the year)
___ $75 per month ($900 for the year)
___ $100 per month ($1,200 for the year)
___ Other __________________
Grace UMC in Olathe, Kansas is the host for Mainstream UMC. Grace serves as the fiscal agent and provides financial accountability.
Please make checks payable to:
Grace United Methodist Church
Memo: Mainstream UMC
11485 S. Ridgeview Road
Olathe, Kansas 66061
Give electronically: https://mainstreamumc.com/donate/