Response to Dr. Ritter’s Response to my original posting. I’ve kept this for various reasons. 

Dr. Ritter is the first up with a response, linked to above. I want to briefly respond.

He writes,

I have never met Joel Watts, but I like him.

That in itself is enough, because many who have don’t! But, seriously, I think Ritter has the same love of the UMC and the Gospel as I hope he sees in me. Now, on to serious matters.

  • He sees this as the Local Option. I am against the Local Option, finding it, well, congregational. As much as a plan that depends on a a congregation as this one, it still binds them together within the UMC and without the UMC. So yes, they are doubly yoked under a denomination as any current federated congregation is — and no federated congregation is considered a local option. I would rather see it as a jurisdictional solution, without the legislation and without the AC votes. I guess, we could call it the Local Jurisdictional Option, but I will stick with “federated.”
  • Under Ritter’s plan, the AC would vote to choose the jurisdiction. Then, a second vote is possible. If a local church is “out of harmony” with the AC, they could then vote to go with the other jurisdiction. Under the federated plan, the only vote required is if the Charge Conference wants to federate. It is not required. No voting is required. No changing is required. The only time a vote is require is if the Charge Conference wants it.
  • Now, his second point is a bit more on target and I have already recognized that in my plan above. He writes, in part, “there also has to be another local church of that denomination for which the UM congregation to federate.” He is technically correct. Here is the thing. As I suggested, we need a spirit of Grace. Yes, as I said and as he noted, we could go start independent denominations, but if we are to afford each other some courtesy, we could forgo much of that. Note, I also suggested that, to skip the required votes for lifting the trust clause, we also forgo transferring property. I point back to Broadway UMC in Chicago for an example of this.
  • Let me also point out that while the BoD has a property transfer process for federated congregations, it does not require it.

This is the process I envision:

  • An actual denomination is established within US laws. Surprisingly, this is simple, at least from the legal standpoint. Yes, there are some hurdles, but this is not as a stretch as one would imagine.
  • Bishops agree, with a resolution from the Council of Bishops, to allow congregations who wish to federate with the new denomination to do so, within certain guidelines. Such as, a vote by the Charge Council and the local congregation, no transfer of property, and several restrictions on the new denomination. Remember, the Book of Disciplines allows for transfer and federation with evangelical denominations. Thus, the new denomination has to be evangelical (whatever that may actually mean). The resolution could then clear up the process I noted above, the same one Ritter spotted as a problem.