Aldersgate Sets Disaffiliation Vote
By LORETTA FULTON
Aldersgate United Methodist Church has moved up its date to vote on disaffiliation to 6 p.m. Nov. 10.
Originally, the church was set to vote sometime in 2023, according to Dustin Wilhite, pastor. At stake is whether to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and join the new conservative branch of Methodism called Global Methodist Church or become independent. The majority of congregations in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, which includes Abilene churches, are expected to disaffiliate before the Jan. 1, 2024, deadline.
To date, only two congregations in Abilene have voted to remain United Methodist, St. Paul and St. James. Local congregations that have voted to disaffiliate from the UMC are Wylie, Elmwood West, and First Methodist.
In preparation for the Nov. 10 vote at Aldersgate, a town hall meeting is scheduled at the church for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. According to an email sent by the church, all questions to be addressed at the town hall meeting must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4. Questions will not be taken from the floor during the meeting, according to the email.
“Members of our church leadership will answer the questions at the town hall with church member Brad Poorman acting as moderator,” the email stated.
Links to other local storiesMethodists Must Decide: Will We Stay or Will We Go?
St. Paul to Remain United Methodist
Local Methodists Not United on Future
Q&A With Dr. Sandra Harper, McMurry University President
The split in the Methodist church has been years in the making. The Global Methodist Church launched May 1, 2022, as a new denomination for Methodists with conserative views. Sticking points are same-sex marriages, ordination of LGBTQ+ individuals, and theological differences.
The email sent from Aldersgate was titled “Disaffiliation Process Information Letter” and went into extensive detail about the disaffiliation process and the upcoming town hall meeting and vote. The email noted that 131 of the 201 congregations in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference have voted to disaffiliate.
The Northwest Texas conference is holding a special called meeting in Lubbock on Dec. 3 to approve applications to leave the United Methodist Church. If Aldersgate votes to disaffiliate, its application would be among those to be approved at the Dec. 3 meeting.
The email from the church also addressed the issue of what current members can do if the congregation votes against their wishes.
“While we would prefer that we not lose anyone due to the vote,” the email stated, “we also sympathize that some may feel the need to leave.”
The email assured that Wilhite, the pastor since July 1, 2019, is committed to doing “everything he can to connect those who cannot stay at Aldersgate to a faith community that meets their needs.”
In the meantime, the email stated, everyone is urged to continue praying over the decision and to join the Aldersgate family prayer time at 1 p.m. daily.
“With the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” the email stated, “we believe Aldersgate will move forward in the best way for our faith community.”
Loretta Fulton is editor of Spirit of Abilene