Sunday, May 29, 2011

What if a Church Isn't Missionally Viable?

John Meunier recently shared blogs about the FL UMC conference closing the Tampa FUMC. Historically conferences have closed churches which were not financially viable, i.e. that could support a clergy of some sort, could pay apportionments, etc. I'm aware of at least one congregation in North GA that was closed in recent years & it seemed like a small church caught in long term dissension which couldn't be overcome.

See Meunier at Tampa Church & UMC Expectations for the information.

Bishop Whitaker speaks to the issue, though does not name the Tampa situation, at "Why Discontinue Congregations?"

Here's a key section worthy of conversation:
"The main reason today to discontinue a congregation is that it can no longer fulfill the mission of the United Methodist Church. This is a different time than a generation ago. In the past, as long as a congregation could pay its bills, including its connectional giving, it was allowed to continue. Today, the Church expects every congregation to possess missional vitality. If the congregation is no longer able or willing to accomplish the mission of the United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, then the Church has a responsibility to discontinue that congregation and seek new ways to fulfill its mission in that location."

Will to be missionally vital or to be closed become a new norm for UM congregations?

1 comment:

cspogue said...

If there were a number of other churches being involuntarily closed, then one could judge the process. Instead, all of the other "proposed" discontinuances in Florida have already closed except FUMC Tampa.

FUMC did pay 100% of their apportionments. There are 23 UM churches in Tampa. Only NINE paid their apportionments in full. Yet, none of those 14 are being closed.

The process by which the district took control of the $2.5 million gift is also cause for concern.

Indiana has a different process for "Elijah Churches" that are asked VOLUNTARILY to use their resources to help start a new church.