Copy
View this email in your browser

There will be a Called Church Conference and Vote on Wednesday, March 9th at 6:00pm in the Sanctuary. The purpose of this meeting is to vote on conditionally disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church. All members are strongly encouraged to attend. Childcare is provided.

Only Full Members are allowed to vote. If you have any questions about your membership status, please call the Church Office at (229) 242-3562 or login to your MyPAUMC.com account.

Watch This Video Message from Pastor Jimmy


DISAFFILIATION INFORMATION


Why is Park Avenue Pursuing Conditional Disaffiliation?

The ongoing conflict over foundational principles and theological divisions within the United Methodist Church have intensified over the last few years, leaving many UMC-affiliated churches wondering what the future holds. The presenting issue for 50 years has been human sexuality (biblical definition of marriage and ordination of self-avowed practicing LGBTQ+ persons). But, the real and much bigger issue in remaining in the UMC involves our doctrine and theology as Wesleyan Methodists, and particularly, the authority of scripture.

Some of those issues are:

  • Is Scripture the Word of God? Is it authoritative?
  • Is Jesus the Son of God? Is He the Messiah?
  • Was He born of a virgin?
  • Was Jesus without sin?
  • Did the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happen? Was He resurrected in body form?
  • Should we remove confession from our communion liturgy?
  • Should we stop talking about the Cross because it’s offensive?
  • Do we really need to believe in the Trinity?

Conditional disaffiliation means that Park Avenue will not finalize the disaffiliation process if other reasonable avenues of separation from the UMC are available.  The first condition is the passage of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.

It has been our prayer that the UMC General Conference that was scheduled for August 2022 would pass the proposed Protocol allowing annual conferences and/or churches to separate amicably from the UMC and retain their assets, without having to pay any exit fees.

However, if GC 2022 is postponed, we expect that a large number of conservative churches will chose to disaffiliate from the UMC.  When that happens it is unlikely that there will be sufficient votes to pass the Protocol at a later GC.  It is also possible that the Protocol would be amended to change the current provisions, or that it may be held unconstitutional by our Judicial Council.

The other condition to our conditional disaffiliation that would be an easier path to leave the UMC involves our South Georgia Annual Conference voting to pull out as a whole, regardless of whether the Protocol is passed.  That option simply does not look viable at this time for many legal and liability issues.

However, if ether of these two options become viable as our path to exit, Park Avenue would still have the ability to drop the disaffiliation process and pursue one of those other paths.

Given all of this, Park Avenue’s Leadership cannot in good conscience sit back and wait for others to determine our future.


Why Now?

For the past two years, we have explored what is best for our church considering the deep, theological divide within our denomination and the continued violations of our Book of Discipline. Our Protocol Study Team and Administrative Council have unanimously recommended that Park Avenue conditionally disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church by following the provisions of the Book of Discipline and the South Georgia Disaffiliation Policy. Both the Protocol Study Team and Administrative Council feel that the conflicts and divisions within the UMC have become a distraction to our vision, mission, and ministry of making disciples.

There are at least two reasons we feel that now is the time to leave. First, as we have previously shared, the costs to disaffiliate will be around $650,000. However, if we wait until next year, we will have paid an additional $200,000 in annual apportionments owed to the UMC.  This means we would have paid the UMC a total of $850,000 if we wait to disaffiliate next year. (Note: the $650,000 number weve been given is an estimate, and could be significantly less.)

Second, there is a strong possibility that the Council of Bishops will ask for “Called” Jurisdictional Conferences to elect new bishops and assign them to serve annual conference within our jurisdiction, with the possibility of restructuring episcopal areas along state lines. What that means for us is that Bishop David Graves could no longer be our bishop. If the Jurisdictional Conference decides to assign bishops based on state lines, then it is possible that beginning September 1, 2022, North Georgia Conference Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson could become our bishop, which will certainly change things for us in South Georgia.

None of us are excited about leaving the UMC. But, the truth is that the UMC has already left us and is moving in a strong progressive direction that is contrary to the foundation in faith that has been the core of who Park Avenue has been from our inception.


What’s Next?

Since both the Protocol Study Team and Administrative Council have unanimously voted to conditionally disaffiliate from the UMC, it is now time for church members to vote.

The vote on whether to conditionally disaffiliate from the UMC is scheduled for Wednesday, March 9th at 6:00pm in our Sanctuary; childcare will be provided. Our District Superintendent, Paula Lewis, will preside over the meeting and oversee the voting. Per official guidelines provided by the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, only official members of Park Avenue UMC are permitted to vote, and the vote must be in person.

If the church membership votes in favor of disaffiliation, Park Avenue will continue its tradition of following the faith and practices developed in the Wesleyan and Methodist traditions. God has richly blessed us in our coming together at Park Avenue. Our heritage runs deep in Methodism, dating back to 1960 with the founding of Park Avenue UMC. We have been, are, and will continue to be Methodist.


Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is “disaffiliation” from The United Methodist Church (UMC)?


“Disaffiliation” is a process whereby a United Methodist Church can separate from The United Methodist Denomination while keeping its property and assets. Since Park Avenue is a United Methodist Church, if we want to separate from the denomination, this process is required.


What happens next in the disaffiliation process?

Our lay-led Administrative Council unanimously voted to officially begin the disaffiliation process and sent a letter requesting conditional disaffiliation to our District Superintendent, Paula Lewis. The letter requested that she call a Church Conference, whereby all members of Park Avenue can vote to disaffiliate. Only members are allowed to vote, per our UMC Book of Discipline and guidelines for disaffiliation provided by our Conference. A two-thirds majority vote is required to move forward with the process. If that number is not reached, Park Avenue will remain a United Methodist Church. The District Superintendent has requested that the vote be held on March 9, 2022.

 

Who can vote?

Only members of Park Avenue UMC can vote. Members are those who have officially joined Park Avenue.  If you aren’t sure of your membership status, please call the Church Office at (229) 242-3562 or login to your myPAUMC.com account.

 

If I am a member, do I have to be present in-person to vote?

Yes.  Only church members present can vote for disaffiliation and must vote in person.

 

What happens following the vote?

If two-thirds of the church members present vote to approve the disaffiliation, Park Avenue would enter into an agreement with the Conference Board of Trustees for The South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.

This agreement would spell out the details and legalities of moving forward, all of which we are prepared for. Part of this involves a financial cost to leave the denomination. The cost includes an unfunded clergy pension liability for the denomination and apportionments due per the agreement which, for Park Avenue, totals approximately $650,000, but could be less.

The next step is that the Annual Conference must approve the request to disaffiliate at the June 2022 Annual Conference Meeting.

Following this, Park Avenue may become an independent church for a short time, until the new Traditional Methodist Denomination (known as the Global Methodist Church) is launched.


IF DISAFFILIATION IS APPROVED

 

What will disaffiliation mean for our church organization and our beliefs?

Park Avenue as we know it will not change. Our Christian faith beliefs will remain what they have been since we began as a church family - the same faith and understanding of scripture passed on by the Apostles over 2000 years ago.

We will continue to be Wesleyan, Orthodox Methodists.  At this time, our intentions are to join the Global Methodist Church when it launches.


Is anything going to change at Park Avenue because of disaffiliation with the UMC?

Nothing, other than the sign in front of our church!  We will be the exact same church in belief, structure and practice as we have been from the start, except we will no longer send money to support progressive agendas in the UMC.

Everything you know and love about Park Avenue now will continue.  Worship, Sunday School, small groups, Children’s and Youth ministry, and missions would remain the same.  Our pastors and staff will remain in their current positions and our property and assets would be under the control of Park Avenue.  Our legal name would likely change from Park Avenue United Methodist Church to “Park Avenue Church.”

 

How would I transfer my membership from Park Avenue United Methodist Church to the new church?


Unless you notify us otherwise, we would transfer your membership to the new church on your behalf. If you wish to remain a part of The United Methodist Church, we will help you connect with a local UMC church in our area so you can transfer your membership to that church.

 

What can I do to support Park Avenue’s future?

Pray as we take this journey. Pray especially for our staff and Administrative Council. Be informed and present and prepared to vote at the appropriate time. Finally, continue sacrificially serving and giving to the mission and ministries of Park Avenue.

We strongly encourage you to join us for 10-days of Prayer & Fasting beginning Monday, February 28th as we seek God's direction for our congregation. Click here for more info.


IF DISAFFILIATION IS NOT APPROVED

 

What happens if we don’t disaffiliate?

This is a really good question!  If we do not disaffiliate, Park Avenue would remain a United Methodist Church. There is no doubt that the UMC will continue moving toward a more progressive theology with immediate changes to the Book of Discipline – changes that are contrary to the foundational tenets of Methodism and of our Christian faith that we have known and supported for generations. 

The progressive United Methodist Church fully intends as soon as possible to change the Book of Discipline to remove the biblical definition of marriage, permit in all UMC annual conferences (like South Georgia) the performance of same-sex weddings, and to ordain self-avowed practicing LGBTQ+ persons to serve as clergy in any UMC church.

Some annual conferences, bishops, clergy and, even UMC jurisdictions have already decided to adopt these changes, even though it is clearly in violation of the current UMC Book of Discipline.  In other words, they are not even willing to wait for those changes to be legally adopted at a later date.

And, there is absolutely no accountability to the current Book of Discipline which holds to the traditional understanding of our faith and the authority of scripture on these matters.  These conferences, bishops, clergy and jurisdictions have simply decided to effectively change the BOD on their own.

There are many within the progressive movement of the UMC who believe that these initial changes are just the beginning of what is to come.  

If Park Avenue does not disaffiliate now, then we will continue to be part of a denomination that is becoming more and more progressive.  And, ultimately, we may lose the opportunity to choose the future direction of our church.

Our property would continue to be held “in trust” by the denomination and our pastors would remain under appointment and could be moved at any time by our Conference to another church or moved to another capacity altogether.  Our staff, leadership team and Administrative Council will also continue to be distracted from leading us towards our primary mission as a church.

History has proven that once the theology of a denomination is changed, it is imposed on both clergy and local churches.  Despite the assurance that each church and clergy can choose for themselves and remain within the UMC, that has not proven to be the case. We would likely move toward a more progressive church and could have a new pastor appointed to lead in that direction.


More Information

  • For videos and transcripts of previous
    congregational meetings and presentations, click here.
  • If you have any questions, please contact the Church Office at (229) 242-3562.
  • Additionally, you may reach out to Rev. Jimmy Towson, Senior PastorRev. Jamie Bone, Associate PastorTerry Hiers, Director of Operations; or any of the members of the Protocol Study Team (listed below) with your questions.
    • Brad Folsom
    • Hilary Gibbs
    • Walter Peacock 
    • Mark Perry
    • Richard Cowart 
    • Carl Holley
    • Debbie Tubbs
    • Ann Rickert
    • Paula Hutchinson
    • Matt Dorsey 
Website
Facebook
YouTube
Copyright © 2022 Park Avenue United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
100 E Park Avenue Valdosta, GA 31602

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.






This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Park Avenue Church · 100 E Park Ave · Valdosta, GA 31602-2525 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp