By Tyler Sprouse, TWK Communications Specialist
More than 80 percent of the 840 local churches in the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference have chosen to remain faithful to the United Methodist Church.
There are several important data points that highlight our conference’s vitality and overall health.
Local churches are communities of individuals bound together by the Spirit to collectively worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Within these 840 congregations throughout our conference, 157,508 professing members comprise our connectional family of faith. Nearly 87 percent of our professing members are choosing to remain faithful to the UMC. Also, approximately 83 percent of weekly church attendees in our conference plan to remain as well.
The TWK Conference continues its vital work of reaching people with the message of hope, transformation, and love found in the gospel of Christ. Last year churches in our connection received a total of 757 professions of faith (outside of confirmation). Of those who came to know the love of God in Christ through our churches, over 72 percent of these people are remaining United Methodist.
Like many other UMC Conferences, our conference has lost some of our local churches through disaffiliation. In our conference, there are 162 churches disaffiliating from the UMC this May. Here are some statistics to consider:
- Of the 162 disaffiliating churches, 146 had 50 or fewer votes; the majority of these churches had less than 25 votes. The 146 churches with 50 or fewer votes represent 90 percent of the disaffiliating churches.
- Twelve churches had between 55-99 votes. This number represents seven and a half percent of the total number of disaffiliating churches.
- Four disaffiliating churches had 100 or more votes, which is two and a half percent of the total number. Of the conference’s 24 churches with 1,000 or more professing members, three are disaffiliating from the denomination.
Financially, those churches disaffiliating from the denomination in May 2023 represent about 10 percent of expected giving (based on 2022 connectional commitments).
The TWK Conference has been and continues to be proactive in helping foster a loving, supportive community throughout this turbulent time. The New Church Development team has launched The Vine UMC, a new hybrid (online and in-person) community of faith. It is an immediate connection available to those dislocated from their local church through disaffiliation.
In the midst of some conference churches’ disaffiliation discussions, some congregations have lost a large portion of their members after deciding to remain United Methodist. Bishop McAlilly has gathered a team to work with these churches to help create strategic financial, missional, and spiritual care plans for these congregations and their leaders.
Our conference is committed to its driving mission, “To discover, equip, connect, and send lay and clergy leaders who shape congregations that offer Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time.”
As the TWK Conference, we continue to embody this mission in creative, bold, and faithful ways, with an eye both to the needs of the present and to the generations of United Methodists who will inherit our Spirit-inspired work.