Save the Date

Church Conference-Disaffiliation Vote

Save the Date: Sunday, November 20, 2022, at 3:30 pm CT. 
 
Who: All MEMBERS* of Santa Claus United Methodist Church

What: Church Conference-Disaffiliation Vote

When: Sunday, November 20, 2022, at 3:30 pm CT. 

Where: Santa Claus United Methodist Church

Frequently Asked Questions

(click on any question to show or hide answer)


•  The General Conference of the United Methodist Church was supposed to vote on a proposal in 2020 that would allow each church to decide how they wanted to handle the issue of human sexuality. Due to Covid-19, the General  Conference of 2020 was canceled, as was the General Conference in 2022. Therefore, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will not be voting on this proposal until 2024. As a result of the ongoing disagreement within the UMC on human sexuality, churches have a designated path to disaffiliate (or leave) the United Methodist Church, which expires at the December 31, 2023, before we can know what the General Conference will do on this issue. We have no way of knowing whether the same option to leave will be available to us in 2024, or if so, what the details will be.


•  Only documented members of Santa Claus United Methodist Church can vote, and they must be present on November 20, 2022 at 3:30 pm CST to vote. If you’re unsure of your membership status, please contact Tonja at Tonja@santaclausumc.org 
•  The concern is that the United Methodist Church is moving in a direction that it might eventually amend its Book of Discipline, which currently states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” If that is the case, many congregants would prefer not to have that decided for them and would prefer not to stay with the organization. In addition, the administrative council has listened to congregants and believes that voting reflects the will of our congregation. Other UMC administrative processes required to complete disaffiliation require that a vote be taken nearly a year before the 2023 deadline. 
•  If two-thirds of our members vote to disaffiliate, we have an amount of money we have to pay to the United Methodist Church for pastors’ pensions, unpaid healthcare, etc. The payment amount required by disaffiliation will be approximately $325,000. In addition, there would be other miscellaneous costs for legal counsel, rebranding, etc. In addition, upon disaffiliation the United Methodist Church would transfer title of assets including our Church building and property and the Santa Claus United Methodist Church Cemetery to our congregation. The vote will have to be approved at Indiana Annual Conference in June, 2023, and will become effective July 1, when our church will need to tender payment. 
 
If the Church were to approve disaffiliation, our future options would be: 

•  Become an unaffiliated church: (Ex. Santa Claus Community Church). Our congregation will be responsible for finding our own pastor from that time forward and we would cover pension, healthcare, and other benefits for our senior pastor. We will no longer owe apportionment (Church tithe) to the United Methodist Denomination. If we choose to pursue this option, we will likely need to have a pastor ready by July 1, 2023, and we will need to form our own bylaws and file for a new 401(c)3 organization by then as well. 

•  Join another church denomination: Our congregation might consider joining with another denomination. We could affiliate with another Wesleyan denomination such as Presbyterian, Lutheran, Global Methodist, etc. There are a few benefits including likely not having to find our own pastor or form new bylaws. A new affiliation would likely require paying apportionment to a new organization, just as we do the United Methodist Denomination now.  
•  If we fail to reach a two-thirds majority in favor of leaving the United Methodist Church, our relationship with the denomination will remain unchanged. In addition, our local Church building and property along with the Santa Claus United Methodist Cemetery will remain in trust with the denomination (meaning we do not own the building or the land). The disaffiliation provision under which we are considering leaving will expire at the end of 2023. Our Church may need to have future conversations after the General Conference in 2024. 
When you arrive on Sunday, November 20, we will confirm your name with our membership list and hand you a ballot. When the meeting begins, the Administrative Council will make a motion to the District Superintendent that will state: 

“Santa Claus UMC motions to disaffiliate (or separate) from the United Methodist Church via ¶2553” 

The ballot will read: 

Motion: that Santa Claus United Methodist church disaffiliate from the UMC 

__ Yes, we should separate from the UMC 

__ No, we should not separate from the UMC 

__ I abstain 

 
*Special Note:  If you mark the ballot “Abstain”, your ballot will not be counted in the tally for (Yes) or against (No) but will be counted as a vote in determining the 2/3 majority. 
 
The vote will be counted immediately, and we should know the final results on Sunday, November 20, 2022. 
 People who want to disaffiliate want to do so for a number of reasons: 

• Human Sexuality: The concern is that the UMC is deliberately moving toward allowing homosexual marriages and homosexual clergy to be ordained. In fact, many conferences (or regions), including Indiana, have issued statements of what they intend to “live into,” which includes no longer disciplining pastors who perform gay marriages or pastors who identify as homosexuals. There are many opposed to these changes that believe that homosexuality is a sin and should not be practiced within leadership of the Church. 

•  The Trust Clause: The United Methodist organization owns our church building and our cemetery in trust. Until December 31, 2023, the UMC of Indiana is not requiring additional payment for our church building, property and cemetery if we disaffiliate. It should be noted, that in some other conferences churches have been required to make additional payment(s) for their buildings to leave the denomination. For some the uncertainty regarding these assets in trust is motivation to disaffiliate now while the financially favorable opportunity exists. 

•  Vote of No Confidence: For some a vote to disaffiliate is an expression of dissent towards UMC General Conference leadership. Many congregants have shared frustrations that the UMC would not extend the provision to leave the church until after the General Conference in 2024 when issues of human sexuality will again be considered by the denomination. 
 
 People wishing to remain with the denomination do so for a number of reasons: 
 
•  Human Sexuality: Some members of our congregation feel that having an LGBT+ marriage in their church, leader, or pastor isn’t a big deal, or they may feel that we should be heading in that direction. They may feel that keeping LGBT+ individuals of our church from leadership or marriage isn’t living up to Jesus’s teaching to “love one another.” They might feel that the Bible is a book directly inspired from God but translated through flawed humans with limited understanding of what God wanted to convey. As our cultural and anthropological understandings of Jesus’s time change, so should our attitudes and beliefs, especially if these beliefs are causing harm to individuals. 

•  Tradition: Our congregation has been a Methodist church family since 1849. While the church denomination has changed more than once, we’ve been in the United Methodist Church denomination since 1968. It’s a long-held tradition and it’s part of people’s identities. 

•  Financial: The approximate $325,000 disaffiliation cost doesn’t cover other miscellaneous costs for legal counsel, rebranding, etc., nor does it cover the cost of getting a new pastor or joining a new denomination (If one applies). 
• Our Administrative Council has held three town hall meetings to discuss the process and the questions, and to hear from the public. We have tried to get information out, but we understand that schedules can be hectic. If you wish to see a video of previous town hall meetings, contact the church office.
We hope you’ll join our Administrative Council in prayer over this.

•  If our church votes to disaffiliate, our Administrative Council will turn their attention to next steps. Should that happen, we hope that members who voted to remain with the UMC will stay and continue to share opinions that help shape our future. A future that best unifies our congregation.  

•  If our church votes not to disaffiliate, we hope that members who voted to disaffiliate would wait until after the 2024 General Conference and continue to share opinions that help shape our future. A future that best unifies our congregation.  
 
•  Ken Mulzer, Jr., Chair
•  Loyce Kulbeth, Recording Secretary
•  Mary Helen Brown, Lay Member
•  Denise Richlen, SPRC Chair
•  Evan Weatherford, Trustee
•  Sherrill Clark, Finance Chair
•  Deann Siegel, COM Chair
•  Susan Teaford, Treasurer
•  Judy Heilman, SS Superintendent
•  Dean Merder
•  Staci Jones
•  Greg Turner
•  Leah Koch
•  Bud Schaaf
•  Bruce Tesch
This has not been an easy time for our church, and we hope you will continue to pray for the future of our church congregation, whether we choose to disaffiliate or not. 

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20.