By Tyler Sprouse, TWK Communications Specialist
As the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference approaches 2024 and adjusts to the impact of disaffiliation, we remain grounded in scripture and anchored by our faith in Jesus Christ.
We remain a connectional church committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We will continue to offer our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness to the love of Christ.
The TWK Connectional Table and Cabinet leaders are hopeful about our future and remain committed to our mission as United Methodists. The dynamic movement of the Holy Spirit is being revealed in the work around us. Recently, our conference held a retreat at Cedar Crest Camp for the volunteer conference leadership. This day was a testament to our collective commitment to follow the Holy Spirit’s new vision for dynamic, faithful discipleship in our context.
Our newly launched Faith and Innovation Team is focused on intentional collaboration of subgroups with a commitment to develop thriving congregations, innovative leaders, and paying attention to the ways in which the Spirit is sparking new ways to be in mission together. We believe God is giving us what we need to lead in this new season of the UMC.
We can’t wait to see what God is doing in and through us! As we said before the May special session, so we say now: we are hopeful.
At the November 13 called special session of the 2023 Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference, there will be 128 churches considered for disaffiliation from the UMC. The consent agenda for the November special session is now available for review. Here are some numbers to consider:
- 90 percent had less than 40 people present for the vote.
- Nine churches had 40-85 people present for the vote.
- Three churches had over 100 persons present for their vote.
- These churches represent about five percent of the professions of faith in our conference last year.
- Four of these churches report 100 or more weekly worship attendees.
These 128 churches represent about five percent of expected giving (based on 2022 connectional commitments); combined with the churches that disaffiliated in May, the total number of churches disaffiliating from our conference represents under 15 percent of connectional commitments.
The Vine UMC is actively working with persons dislocated from their former churches to create beautiful expressions of Christ-centered communities of faith in a hybrid context. With The Vine UMC, people can find an immediate connection with others seeking a home within the United Methodist Church. The Vine UMC emphasizes our togetherness as those grafted into the body of Jesus Christ, the True Vine (John 15:1). This movement is gaining momentum, and its leaders are excited to connect with more people actively seeking to be faithful to Christ in the UMC.
Some churches held votes and will remain in the UMC, but are transforming in a new context resulting from disaffiliation conversations, votes, and actions. With funds approved at the 2023 TWK Annual Conference, a team is available to listen and help congregational leaders in those churches to discern and address current emotional, spiritual, strategic, and financial needs. The team is already in conversation with numerous church communities, and they are eager to help others affected by disaffiliation.
Looking ahead, our conference is filled with hope. We are thankful for the passionate, committed lay and clergy leaders that help guide our ministries, and we are grateful for the continued engagement of our members who have chosen in this turbulent time to remain United Methodists in our conference. Most of all, we are thankful for the grace and love of God in Christ, and we are energized and empowered to continue bearing witness to this love to all, one neighborhood at a time.
The special session of the 2023 TWK annual conference will convene online at 7 p.m. More information as well as links to the consent agenda and the livestream of the session can be found https://twkumc.org/nov-13-special-session/.