Holston delegation responds to proposed separation plan

Holston delegation responds to proposed separation plan

The current Holston Conference delegation was elected during the June 2019 session of Annual Conference meeting in Lake Junaluska, N.C.

January 4, 2020

The Holston Conference delegation to General Conference 2020 has issued the following letter in response to the document Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation.

Dear Members and Friends of the Holston Conference,
By now, many of you have read or seen reports of a group of 16 United Methodists who met with a mediator over several months to seek a way forward for the denomination as we approach General Conference 2020. This group of bishops, clergy and laity leaders across the denomination also represented leadership from numerous special interest groups (Good News, Reconciling Ministries, UMCNext, Wesleyan Covenant Association, etc.). They have now released their recommendation, and this is what was reported on Friday, January 3 through United Methodist News Service and numerous television and print media sources.

The Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation represents agreement from numerous plan leaders and special interest groups working together to offer a path forward. This is significant as it is the first plan with such broad support. That being said, it is crucial to understand no group, no matter how diverse or well meaning, can make decisions or set policy for The United Methodist Church. Only the General Conference has this authority. So, what we have now is another proposal that will almost certainly be presented to the General Conference as legislation delegates may or may not vote to adopt. We encourage you to read the United Methodist News Service release and seek to stay informed. It is our understanding there will be more information available in the coming days.

While we urge you to read the full report, “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation” and FAQ sheet, we also want to provide you with a brief summary of the key points within the report:


  • The Protocol anticipates the formation of a new traditionalist Methodist denomination with funds allocated over the next four years to help sustain the new denomination.
  • The Protocol would allocate $39 million to ensure there is no disruption in supporting ministries for communities historically marginalized by racism.
  • Conferences and local congregations could vote to separate from The United Methodist Church to affiliate with new Methodist denominations created under the agreement within a certain time frame. Churches wishing to stay within the UMC would not be required to conduct a vote. Provisions exist for entities that choose to separate to retain their assets and liabilities. All current clergy and lay employees would keep their pensions regardless of the Methodist denomination with which they affiliate.
  • All administrative or judicial processes addressing restrictions in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church related to self-avowed practicing homosexuals or same-sex weddings, as well as actions to close churches, would be held in abeyance until the separation is completed. 

The United Methodist Church made national news this week over a possible or impending split in the denomination. For most of us in Holston, this is certainly not “breaking news.” We know we are divided. And yet, we know something more that did not make national news. Every day, in countless ways across Holston, we share the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We proclaim it from our pulpits, live it in our daily lives, and share it in ministry around the world. We have a shared mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As we move through the next uncertain and anxious months, we encourage you to stay informed, stay prayerful and stay busy in the work of our mission. 
Grace and Peace,

Emily Ballard, Head of Delegation
Kim Goddard, First Elected Clergy

See list of current Holston Conference delegation members.