Frequently Asked Questions

You are invited to browse through the following categories of frequently asked questions regarding denominational affiliation.

GENERAL

Due to the ongoing division taking place in the greater denomination of The United Methodist Church, congregations across the U.S. are being asked to choose their own pathways for future affiliation based on their core values and theological beliefs.

The history is long and complicated, but ultimately, upholding the traditional, apostolic witness of Holy Scripture as authoritative in all matters of faith and practice is the central reason why The Woodlands Methodist Church is considering leaving The United Methodist Church.

At Texas Annual Conference (TAC) in late May 2022, Bishop Scott Jones encouraged each congregation to consider its future affiliation by late fall of this year — whether that’s remaining in The United Methodist Church, staying in Wesleyan connection by affiliating with another Methodist denomination or becoming an independent church.

In June 2022, Bishop Jones announced his retirement effective December 31, 2022, citing “increasing disobedience and escalating conflict in the denomination.” The new incoming bishop is expected to be much more progressive in theology and practice and will carry the authority to re-assign any of our pastors to another church within our geographic region. TWMC may have diminished input in the appointment of the new senior pastor or any other pastor the bishop chooses to replace.

Currently, TWMC is one of over 100 churches in the TAC currently in official discernment. This number is expected to double by year-end.

Very little.

As a 44-year-old standard-bearer of orthodox, Wesleyan theology and one of the largest congregations in Methodism, The Woodlands Methodist Church will continue to advance its mission to win people to Jesus, disciple them in faith, and help those in need — regardless of denominational affiliation.

TWMC’s clergy team, lay governance boards, ministry partners and committed members are working to ensure the ministry and mission of the church advance without delay, interruption or redirection.

The Texas Annual Conference (TAC) laid out a seven-step process for each church seeking to separate from the UMC: 1) complete the appropriate period of discernment, 2) calculate apportionments and unfunded pension liability estimates, 3) conduct a congregational vote to disaffiliate, 4) pay in full previous year’s apportionments and current year apportionments, 5) pay in full unfunded pension liability, 6) complete all necessary legal forms, and 7) be approved for release by an affirmative vote of the Texas Annual Conference.

While the terms the TAC had laid out are quite favorable compared to other UMC conferences, there may be opportunities to negotiate the final dollar amount TWMC will be required to pay.

December 31, 2022

A special called session of the Texas Annual Conference of the UMC will be held on December 3, 2022, for the purpose of voting to release local congregations that have completed the necessary steps and settled all financial and legal obligations to the TAC by that date. TWMC will be among this group if our discernment period reveals a desire to leave the denomination.

TWMC seeks to advance its connectional Wesleyan heritage; however, it’s too soon to determine a specific affiliation pathway for the future. Among the options for possible future affiliation are 1) The Global Methodist Church and 2) the Free Methodist Church USA. The clergy team, lay governance boards and ministry partners are working to study the best way forward. One possible outcome includes TWMC becoming an independent Methodist Church for a temporary period of time, before affiliating with a new or different Methodist denomination.

If the discernment process reveals a ministry calling outside the UMC, registered members of the church will have the opportunity to participate in a called church conference for the purpose of voting to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. If needed, the discernment leadership team is studying the possibility of holding a vote to make this decision in August 2022.

Your vows of membership are honored regardless of denominational affiliation. Your membership is recorded in our local church database, and that status will not change as a result of any disaffiliation or affiliation activity.

TWMC adopted a DBA (doing business as) of The Woodlands Methodist Church in 2021 but kept its legal name of The Woodlands United Methodist Church. If the church leaves the UMC, the legal name will be updated to remove United.

HUMAN SEXUALITY

News media coverage often highlights UMC clergy and/or congregations that either advocate for or stand against full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons as clergy and as couples married in the church. At The Woodlands Methodist Church, discernment and decisions are focused on the primary matters of scriptural authority — what orthodox Christians have always believed about God, Jesus and the Bible — above matters of full inclusion.

Regarding this specific topic, TWMC relies on the Scriptures to guide all matters of human relations, including sexuality.

The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church has been the same on this matter since 1972, and yet it is disregarded by progressive clergy and congregations across the denomination with no accountability or enforcement.

Paragraph 304.3 of The Discipline says, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”

TWMC has always followed The Discipline and will continue to for as long as necessary, in adherence to the authority of Scripture regarding marriage (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-5) and sexual practices outside of marriage (Romans 1:26-27, Leviticus 18:22).

TWMC stands with our bishop, Scott Jones, in condemning increasing defiance and disobedience against The Discipline on this matter.

TWMC is not aligned with the continuing UMC’s forthcoming efforts to become completely inclusive of LGBTQIA+ persons by conducting ceremonies of Christian marriage and by appointing self-avowed practicing LGTBQIA+ persons as ordained clergy.

TWMC views all people as individuals of sacred worth. Therefore, LGTBQIA+ persons are invited to participate in worship as lay congregants or in ministry programs as lay participants. We extend welcome, grace and respect to all who call TWMC their church home.

FINANCE, PROPERTY AND LEGAL

The financial obligations associated with disaffiliation in the Texas Annual Conference (TAC) are highly favorable compared to those of other conferences around the nation. TAC requires the base minimum allowed by UMC governance regulations: 1) pay in full previous year’s apportionments and current year apportionments and 2) pay in full unfunded pension liability. These costs are easily manageable within the current operating budget and reserves of TWMC.

As religious 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, TWMC’s ministries operate solely from financial support of its members, supporters and community members at-large. This status will not change as a result of any change in denominational affiliation.

Completing the disaffiliation process ensures TWMC will leave the United Methodist Church with our property and material assets, free of any trust clause referencing the denomination.

The trust clause is a historic, universal claim made by the UMC and written into the church’s articles of incorporation in an effort to retain ownership rights of local church properties. TWMC will be automatically released from this claim upon a final vote for disaffiliation by the Texas Annual Conference.

There is no risk or liability associated with disaffiliation by following the prescribed steps for completing the process. The risk of litigation increases in cases where churches take steps to disaffiliate outside the prescribed process.

PASTORS AND STAFF

TWMC’s clergy team joins the greater congregation in the current period of discernment; they are in careful consideration and study of the options and are expected to make their views known in the near future.

TWMC’s clergy team would continue to serve as ordained elders and deacons in the UMC until the church’s separation becomes final by a vote of the Texas Annual Conference. After that time, they will seek licensing and credentials from either a new denomination or independent licensing organization.

Non-clergy staff will not be impacted.