The work of the Legal/Ethical/Structural Team is multifaceted and complex. Below is a broad-scope summary of the team’s work to date.
The team began their work with an in-depth review of the UM Constitution and 2016 Book of Discipline. In summary, the team found the following to be true of the legal structure of the UMC:
- The United Methodist Church is not, in itself, a legal entity. It consists of incorporated annual conferences, within fixed jurisdictional conferences, and incorporated general agencies, as well as the Council of Bishops, and the Judiciary. Annual Conferences are the legal, incorporated governing bodies of the church. Physical property is held by the Annual Conference and clergy are ordained by the Annual Conference to which they belong.
- The central authority of the church is the General Conference, which meets every four years. While the General Conference is the central legislative body of the church, it is not a legal entity outside the authority given to it by the church. The GC is not incorporated nor does it hold its own property.
While an Annual Conference may remove itself from the UMC while retaining its assets and property without issue, we are exploring the ethical implications of what this may mean for the New England UMC.
Submitted by AMM 10/31/2019