A Letter from Pastor Forrest
September 19, 2022

 

To the people of Asbury,

On Monday, September 19th, 2022 the Administrative Council voted to begin a six-month discernment process to assess our future in the United Methodist Church. Last month, we held a church wide meeting to provide an update on the conflict within our denomination as well as what our options for the future are.


At this time, there is a temporary provision within the Book of Discipline which will allow a church to disaffiliate from the UMC while keeping its property. This is critical, as every UM church’s property is owned by its annual conference and held in trust by the local church.Normally, if a UM church voted to disaffiliate, it would lose its property. We have an opportunity before us to leave with no legal complications while maintaining ownership of our building. But that opportunity expires in December 2023.


Here’s why this matters right now: in order to disaffiliate and keep our property, the annual conference has to vote to approve our decision. Annual conference meets in June. And, we need to inform them by May at the latest that we have voted to disaffiliate in order to get our church on the agenda for June.


And prior to voting to disaffiliate, we are required to spend six months discerning what the best path forward is. Information on that process and its specific requirements can be found here: https://riotexas.org/discerning-pathways-disaffiliation-documents So, the sooner we begin the discernment process, the better.


I want to be clear: I do not know if Asbury will vote to disaffiliate. In fact, after our church-wide information meeting last month, what I’ve heard from almost everyone in attendance is that they don’t know what the best choice for Asbury is, but they think we should do the discernment process to find out.


As part of this process, we will spend more time explaining why there is division within the UMC (it’s not just about same-sex marriage), provide more information on the newly-formed Global Methodist Church as well as other paths we might choose, and we’ll discuss openly how either staying in the UMC or leaving will affect Asbury and our ministries. 


At the end of the discernment process, we will take a vote. In order to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church, we would need a 2/3 majority vote- and only members of Asbury are allowed to vote. This means that, if you have not joined our church and been added to the membership rolls by the time the vote is taken, you cannot participate in the vote.


My friends, I won’t pretend that I don’t have my own thoughts and opinions on this. But I am committed to being the pastor at Asbury no matter what the church decides. If you vote to remain in the UMC, I will remain with you. If you vote to leave the UMC, I will leave with you. I am convinced that God brought me to Asbury, and I won’t leave until I’m certain He’s calling me elsewhere. Lord willing, that won’t happen for many years!


In the meantime, the most important thing we can do is pray. That, in fact, is the single most important part of any discernment process. We will pray for our church. We will pray that God guides us and shows us the way forward. We will pray for grace and kindness towards those with whom we disagree, and we will pray for unity on the other side of the discernment process.


If we trust that God is the one guiding us, we should all trust that, however this turns out, whatever path Asbury chooses for our future, we are following where God leads.


I am always willing to discuss the discernment process, the division within the UMC, and the pros and cons of either staying or leaving with anyone who wants to ask. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to share them with me.

In Christ,
Reverend Forrest Deviney.

Helpful Resources

Educate yourself before making a decision

Information about the Global Methodist Church
Adam Hamilton at Houston Chapelwood UMC
The United Methodist Church is Divided and Dividing
Our Differences Regarding the Bible
Our Differences Regarding Jesus
Our Differences Regarding Sexuality
Why It's Time for Traditionalists to Leave
Where Should We Go?