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Op-Ed: Historic Methodist church disaffiliates from the United Methodist Church

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Trinity Methodist Church located on Wilson Pike in Franklin is one of the oldest congregations in Williamson County, tracing our history back to before the Civil War. There are current members that trace their ancestors back to the founders.  

We are a family-sized congregation of men and women who share a common faith in Jesus Christ. We are Methodist in our form of worship and polity, but we are first and foremost disciples of our Lord Jesus. We welcome anyone seeking answers for their life or a church home.  

The Trinity congregation recently voted to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church but not our connection with other Methodist bodies. The root cause of Trinity’s decision is rooted in a long-standing disagreement within the denomination regarding biblical interpretation and authority in the church particularly as it relates to certain areas of human behavior. This disagreement has been acknowledged by the three major factions (traditionalists, centrists and progressives) within the UMC. These groups made numerous efforts to reach some sort of agreement, but it became apparent that their differences were irreconcilable. The three groups then negotiated an agreement to amicably separate. The agreement is known as “The Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation,” or simply, “The Protocol.” It was finalized on Dec. 17, 2019, and was to be taken up at the 2020 UMC General Conference.  

As a result of COVID-19, the 2020 and 2021 General Conferences were postponed. In addition, this year’s conference was postponed and rescheduled for 2024. Therefore, the vote to adopt or reject The Protocol has been delayed another two years.  

Trinity’s decision to act now as opposed to the uncertainty of waiting until 2024 was motivated by a provision in the UMC Book of Discipline permitting a congregation to pay negotiated fees to disaffiliate now and retain their property. This provision is scheduled to end next year prior to the 2024 General Convention.  

On Wednesday, April 13, Trinity held a called meeting to vote on disaffiliation. The meeting was conducted by the UMC district superintendent, the Rev. Allen Black. The vote passed with more than two-thirds of the members voting in favor of disaffiliation. On Wednesday, June 15, the Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference of the UMC voted to approve the disaffiliation of 60 UMC congregations, including Trinity.  

The UMC and others focus on human behaviors as the cause for churches to disaffiliate as opposed to the far more important issues of biblical authority and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform human lives. Trinity’s decision to pursue disaffiliation was entirely based on the denomination’s longstanding disagreements and our traditional understanding of the Christian faith and moral norms. 

Let me close by reaffirming our desire to welcome anyone seeking answers to their life challenges or a church home. We are not perfect people therefore we welcome imperfect people to meet their perfect savior, Jesus, and experience the fellowship of a forgiving, loving church family.

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