Final preparations falling into place for special called Annual Conference

December 02, 2022
By Alan Wild
Final preparations are underway for a special session of the Kentucky Annual Conference called for the sole purpose of completing the process of disaffiliation of churches that have met the requirements outlined in Paragraph 2553 of The Book of Discipline.

The session, which will be held online, will begin at 3 p.m. EST (2 p.m. CST). People can watch the live proceedings live on Facebook  or on the Conference website. GNTV will be coordinating the video production and supporting the electronic voting process.   

Those leading the special session will be gathered at the Conference Office in Crestwood – in Holloway Hall, the same spot where two online Annual Conference sessions were held when in-person gatherings were not possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a sense of lament as we gather because something is ending,” said Rev. Darren Brandon, Annual Conference secretary. “We’ve been traveling and walking together for a long time. These are our brothers and sisters. There’s definitely that piece of it.”

Churches are requesting disaffiliation at this session under provisions made in Paragraph 2553, which allows churches to request disaffiliation over disagreements within the UMC concerning LGBTQ rights. The churches must meet certain criteria including financial obligations and must have taken a church vote to leave that was approved by at least two-thirds of the congregation.

Brandon equates the situation to taking a hike together along the same path and reaching a point where one person sincerely desires to take another path. Both people still want to depart with blessings and a sense of hopefulness, he said, but “we’re still traveling on this same mountain, this big ball called Earth.”

The session will have a worship component, including special music from Madisonville First UMC and Dr. Jim McFarland, the organist at St. Paul UMC in Louisville. Bishop Leonard Fairley will preach during the worship time, as well.

The Conference Board of Trustees’ report listing 57 churches seeking to disaffiliate will be presented by Chair Gretchen Mahaffey, then after time for questions and comments, Annual Conference members will vote on it.

Brandon, who became Annual Conference secretary on July 1, will be guiding the work of the special session as his first Annual Conference in this new role. He expressed his appreciation of the Conference staff and the rest of the team that works on Annual Conference sessions – and also to Rev. Tami Coleman, the previous secretary who always is willing to help answer questions.

“Living out the connection this way is a powerful thing,” Brandon said.

Brandon said that he’s always believed that how we work together is as important as the work itself, and he’s sensed in his new role the desire to work together and to follow John Wesley’s three rules: Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.

“I think if we do those things, we will have done our work well.”