Large, Fast Growing UM Church Decides to Withhold Apportionments

EUMCBy Walter Fenton-

Evangelical United Methodist Church (EUMC), one of the denomination’s fastest growing large churches, has decided to withhold paying its annual conference and general church apportionments. The Greenville, Ohio, congregation reached its decision in late August.

“The open defiance by annual conferences to ignore the Book of Discipline and defy the Word of God, and the Western Jurisdiction’s decision to elect a gay bishop compelled us to act,” said Matt Hamilton, chairman of the congregation’s leadership board.

According to the blogger Len Wilson, in 2014 the West Ohio church was the third fastest growing UM congregation with worship attendance over 1,000. It now averages approximately 1,200 to 1,300 people in attendance at five weekend worship services in a rural community with a population of just over 13,000.

“In the layperson’s workplace, if you sign a contract stating you’ll fulfill a certain job within a corporation, and then you fail to uphold your duties, you’d be terminated,” said Jill Steinbrunner, another member of the congregation’s leadership board. “EUMC is looking for the bishops to display clear and definitive support of biblical truths … and holding clergy accountable to their ordination vows and our Book of Discipline.”

Over the past several years the West Ohio Annual Conference, like many others, has witnessed challenges to the denomination’s sexual ethics and its teachings on same-sex marriage. In 2010, on a very narrow vote (948 to 920), the conference elected an openly gay man as its conference treasurer. He has been re-appointed to the post every year since. And earlier this year, just three days before the convening of General Conference, UM Pastor David Meredith made statewide news when he married his male partner at Broad Street UM Church in Columbus, Ohio. A complaint was filed in the case, but to date there has been no word of its resolution.

“EUMC has been increasingly alarmed at the way UM leaders have chosen to disregard the tenants of our church,” said Steinbrunner. “It has put more emphasis on maintaining unity than on teaching biblical truth and saving souls.”

The church recently joined a diverse mix of 20 other congregations in Darke County, Ohio, in an effort to share the Gospel with unchurched people. The initiative, called Time to Revive, has resulted in over 500 people making decisions for Christ.

“I am excited,” said Steinbrunner, “that the church is not only growing in the number of attendees, but more importantly, we’re seeing people growing in their depth of faith and knowledge of Christ. We’ve had dozens of people volunteer to meet one-on-one with people who have recently become Christians. It’s very exciting to witness.”

The congregation has a history of paying 100 percent of its apportionments, and both Steinbrunner and Hamilton said the board reached its decision reluctantly and after months of discussion and prayer.

According to Hamilton, the leadership team decided it could no longer, in good conscience, support a conference and general church that is failing to abide by its own polity and teachings.

He explained that the leadership team unanimously voted to withhold the apportionments. It then held a church-wide membership meeting to solicit feedback before moving forward. “Members were overwhelmingly supportive of our decision,” he said.

“If the bishops would enforce the Book of Discipline we could begin paying apportionments again,” he added. “But right now the general church is in chaos. In fact, our people feel like the bishops’ inability to maintain good order in the general church makes it more difficult for us to do our ministry. We’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, but the bishops aren’t helping.”

Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergy person and an analyst for Good News.

Comments

  1. Eric Lindblade says

    Is there an irony in going against the Discipline by withholding apportionments in order to protest going against the Discipline?

    • The Discipline requires the shared funding of mission, not calumny in high places.

    • William Frazier says

      Eric: The UMC taught us to withhold money when we thought said money would benefit a venture at odds with God’s will.. Remember withdrawing all church investments in South Africa? Seems EUMC is simply following the denominations long standing practice.

    • Larry Collins says

      No, there’s irony, there’s just cynicism. Those failing to enforce the BOD have essentially declared it null and void. If that’s the case, apportionment are just as null and void. It’s either all enforceable or none is unenforceable. I wonder if those refusing to enforce the sections on sexuality have even considered the anarchy that may result.

  2. Praise God for Evangelical United Methodist Church of Greenville Ohio!! Could it be that the majority is finally realizing it is only the money that speaks to these people. For decades we did holy conferencing while the opposing sidel manipulated obfuscating and cheated. They will talk all day and all decades while moving the goalposts in their favor. Only choking them off by shutting down the money will bring about a willingness to follow Church law. Time to starve them out. Thank God for GreenVillegas Evangelical United Methodist Church! Many more are on the way to join the team.

    • Carleene Hubbard says

      Is there a way for individual parishioners to do the same as this local Greenville, OH EUMC church? I face a weekly dilemma when writing my tithe check. Recently I’ve been writing them to Advance Specials of the UMCOR, upon the advice of one local retired pastor. I am a tither, and support many Christ-centered ministries.

      All of a sudden, our local pastor has been pushing a new agenda, and it deeply grieves me. I deeply love and value this servant of Christ and her ministry has been exemplary in every way, I have appreciated her strong witness for Christ – until this year, especially since preparing for General Conference. Only one side of this issue is now being pushed locally, and it is not the Orthodox one. I so value my Wesleyan-Arminiian heritage and theological stance. However I cannot in good conscience lend my name nor my tithes to apostasy.

  3. John Caldwell says

    I praise God for your courageous stand.

    • It is time to make this stand. It is now or never friends. Churches all across the connection should follow suite. They do still understand money. This whole matter could be brought to a conclusion in a matter of weeks if the church had the backbone to stand strong. You go GUMC.

  4. Thank God! Praise to EUMC for standing your ground!

  5. Joyce B Akins says

    Something has to be done so that the leaders of UMC world wide honor God’s Holy Word! I salute this stand. Praying God’s Word will be upheld in the leaders and laity of UMC.

  6. What courage?

  7. Trudy Eastland says

    Praise God standing…. I thank God for you.. I volunteer at the Darke County Pregnancy Center and my director who is a Pastor’s wife was telling me about your stand this afternoon. We have to stand for the biblical truth of God’s word.. We can’t compromise it… God bless you…..God will bless you for taking this stand. You are being a light to the world.. We need to stand for Truth….

  8. Licensed Local Pastor says

    The sad part about this is that the Bishop’s will get more upset over the loss of money than the blatant disregard for violations of the Book of Discipline and ordination vows within their ranks. I support EUMC in their stand against apostasy.

  9. Robert Wilson says

    I find this action horrible. In general, I’m supportive of of EUMC’s theological and doctrinal beliefs. It’s one reason I have decided to serve in the conference where I serve. But, to withhold apportionments is no less breaking of our covenant than what is going on in the Western and Nortn Eastern Jurisdictions. It shows little respect for who we are as a denomination and our traditions.

    I hope the pastors are willing to face the consequences set aside in the BOD for this action of civil disobedience. Their pay should be cut in in accordance with the percentage of apportionments the church is refusing to pay. An act of civil disobedience, breaking covenant in this example, is meaningless unless the leaders are willing to face consequences of the actions they believe are wrong.

    Let us not applaud any actions that intentional break out covenant and promises to each other. How about we take the higher road and uphold our end of the covenant.

  10. Lewis E. Weaver says

    I praise you for your action concerning this grave issue that is dividing the church. There is no room for compromise when it rebels against God and his Word. I do not understand how we can remain part of of denomination that arrogantly and boldly rejects the ultimate authority of God’s inspired word. How will two more years help? Is the council of Bishop’s going to do the right thing. It can not continue this way. God has already removed his Spirit fro some churches. It is time we stand for the Truth.
    Pastor Lewis Weaver

  11. Steve Babcock says

    I live in Montana and my church is doing the same. I went to my Pastor and Treasurer and told them if we pay apportionments, I would quit giving to the Church. They agreed and we are not paying apportionments.
    If we could get support from other conferences, we could get this situation resolved quickly.
    It is sad to say that the Methodist Church will only respond to money. But the Bishops and the clergy live off the generosity of Christians.
    My wife was the treasurer of our Church for and we paid our apportionments. My money sponsored this silliness and I apologize for that.
    The Western Jurisdiction has been poorly run for many years and we just seemed to accept it. Our Church met with our representatives and they tried to lie to us. MY money will no longer sponsor narcissists. .

    • Is it YOUR money though?

      I’ve only ever heard from Methodist preachers that it is not ours but God’s.

      Funny how orthodoxy is applied when it suits is!

      • Paul, everything is God’s. In conversation however we must use some sort of “possession” to understand what is being said. If I want to tell you your car needs to be moved how am I to tell you that if I don’t use a word to show possession? God gives me possessions to include money. I am entrusted to spend it wisely. If someone chooses to withhold “their” money due to a church not following scripture I believe God, the giver is pleased. So who actually is using the orthodoxy to suit who here?

  12. A view from the UMC pew: I once would have been in favor of such of move but now I realize it is only one more indicator of the disarray The United Methodist Church is in. For me, the lesson is that Big Tent Methodism has not been very effective for me personally or for the denomination. I do not know what the answer is. I am hoping for some miraculous way for the church to stay together without divvying it up in any form or fashion, but that is probably unrealistic. I am coming to believe that the “winner/loser” scenario that was stopped dead in its tracks at General Conference 2016 will ultimately be the best way forward and the least traumatic; it will leave the church in the best position to downsize its theological tent and stave off a mass exodus. In the meantime, I will continue to put money in the plate at the local church; it is a mixed enough crowd that I sincerely doubt they would even consider withholding apportionments, but if it came to that, I would be firmly against it.

    • The irony, the hypocrisy, and the self-righteousness is profound. Now, watch the conservative Sanhedrin hustle to justify their Pharasaism.

      • Mike Peters says

        Our little Church, New Milford UMC in the NIC has done the same. It seems our only recourse is in the form of money.

        We need many more to join in this effort. There is no justification in disobedience to our Book of Discipline.

        • MIKE CASSANOVA JR says

          I commend you on your actions. II we chriistians don’t start standing up for OUR beliefs then we are not fulfilling our promise to God. I believe that God is waiting on us to stand up and He will take care of the outcome. I know that life changes, but the changes should be for good—NOT EVIL.
          Satin is busy winning over our national , state, & local leaders and now—-our Christian leaders as well. I know he must be celebratiing. NOW Is the time for ALL professing Christians to say —
          ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!! Do not be afraid to stand up and STAND UP FOR GOD AND STOP BOWING TO THE DEVIL AND HIS FOLLOWERS. Don’t misunderstand, I do not hate anyone, each person can choose their own path in life, it is our duty to show them the way to follow JESUS. PRAY1 PRAY111 PRAY1111

  13. Joyce Baughman says

    I belong to Epworth UMC in Kalispell, Montana. Numbers of members are planning to redirect their offerings where they can best support the cause of Christ. I believe the bible supersedes the Discipline. The bible is clear in its instruction that in supporting false doctrines, we become partakers with them in their evil deeds. Alll Christians who offer such support regardless of Jurisdiction are implicating themselves. We ALL will be accountable for complacency and “ho-hum” attitudes. Those who have sought to degrade the UMC by giving celebration to the selection of Oliveto are an embarrassment to those who wish to be known as people who love God and who love His Word. When I united with this church, I was proud to say, “I’m a Methodist”. I still am proud of all who are taking a stand, but ashamed for those who don’t. I take comfort in the fact that GOD STILL REIGNS!

    • Joyce, I would really enjoy talking with you. I am in Billings, and Rev. Fenton was in town this past weekend talking to a group that shares similar concerns. You can contact me through the website. Thanks . . . . Rick

  14. Darrell Morgan says

    When companies make decisions that go against what we in the church feel is contrary to Christian teachings we advocate boycotting. What then is the difference if our own church leadership does the exact same thing? As pastor, I cannot tell my church what they should do with their apportionments, but I can tell them what I will do with mine. I can tell them what I will do when the church makes the decision to change our discipline to tolerate perverted behavior. Money is at the root of most decisions of large companies and corporations. Sadly the Methodist church has become more of a corporation than a church. If we continue on this course we are or will become insignificant in society. The damage that has been done is bad but not recoverable. It is time for any and all person, clergy and laity to put up of shut up. It is time to stand up and stand out. 6% of over 12 million are determining the directions of our church. That is unsatisfactory.

  15. David Rinkes says

    I have been into Certified Laity for Years. I am in the Candidacy program just considering Licensing School, this past summer was cancelled for me for my health reasons. Next year I may attend but this really has to make you think on what is going on within the UMC Association! Where are we at per the Book of Discipline?
    Where are we at in OUR Moral issues as True Christians.
    I am not Anti-Gay, I even know people of both sexes male and female I do not turn them away, We are fiends but they know where I stand on my attitude on their Life Style. But I am not Judging.
    I myself Cannot Support this. WE need to Pray for these lost people on the decisions they are making. Jesus Would Not Walk Away.
    Please read your scriptures people and you will find the Scriptures pointed toward this live style has never changes in the Old or New Testament.

    David Rinkes
    Certified Laity
    Lay Pastor

  16. I fully support this. All churches should do the same. Shame on the Methodist leadership. This is goi g to divide the church even more.

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