Article from the New York Times about the scism in the UMC.
If you are worshipping with us regularly, either online or in person or a hybrid of both, you may have been exposed to the idea that Oceanview belongs to a denomination. We are considered "mainstream" because we are the 2nd largest protestant group in the US. The denomination has a hierarchy of organized leadership. We have a set of agreed-upon values and principles. We follow a book of discipline in how we order the church. That book is a living document that changes every four years. Every four years, we hold a General Conference, an international gathering of democratically elected individuals (equal parts laity and clergy) who serve on committees for two weeks and make decisions on how we are to live together and represent ourselves as a Christian denomination. Each geographical area has a local conference that meets annually called--you guessed it--the Annual Conference. Oceanview and Pastor Emily are members of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. There's one in Virginia, two in North Carolina, New Jersey, etc. You get the idea. We have a bishop who oversees our conference, Bishop Tom Berlin. He's new. The bishop has a set of helpers to oversee smaller areas. Since the conference is divided into districts, these helpers are called District Superintendents (DS). The DS's serve on the bishop's appointive cabinet, and that's where pastors come from.
The bishop and cabinet meet to discern and project possible appointments to fill the pulpits around the conference with pastors. The churches' buildings and property are held in trust by the Annual Conference. In that way, we as a church are not a solo endeavor. We have help and support when we need it. The conference is responsible for supplying the church with quality, vetted clergy, missional engagement, and connection to the United Methodist Church's larger whole. We call it connectionalism. It is one of those "isms" that is a good one. You can learn more about our Annual Conference and denomination on this page through the links below.
Below is a prayer written by our Bishop Tom Berlin in response to the awful attacks in Jacksonville.
(for further discipleship along dismantling racism we have also included a sermon by Bishop Gregory Palmer below..)
Almighty God, Creator of us all,
In ancient times the Psalmist cried out,
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2)
This weekend another shooter,
leaving messages of racial hatred in so many locations
that they could not be missed,
took an AR-15 and killed
Angela, AJ, and Jerrald,
three Black people
who were buying groceries and goods,
and going about a normal day.
How long, O LORD, will some have to live in fear,
while others read the news
with docile sadness,
as though a shooting in a Dollar General
is a normal day?
How long, O LORD, before we conform to
to love our neighbor as ourselves?
How long before we see your commandment
as more than an aspiration, or suggestion,
or a good intention that we should hold
for some day in the future that we sense
we will never live to see?
The enemy that triumphs over us is
the long and tenacious root of racism
that continues to invade our society.
We confess that we have never fully committed
to removing it fully.
We have laid aside our spade and shovel
when the day got hot and the work felt
too hard or too long.
We pray for those who have lost life
and those they love.
We pray for those who experience fear
that is based on facts.
Stir up in a us a desire to serve you,
to live peacefully with our neighbors,
to be their allies and friends.
As we devote each day to your Son,
our Savior, Jesus Christ,
we pray that his Lordship would lead us
to move beyond acceptance
to the work of transformation,
so that all would know the goodness
of life that is free from fear and death.
Help us to love our neighbor
in ways that bring your kingdom
as it is in heaven.
-Bishop Tom Berlin, Florida
Maybe you have been around the UMC for the entirety of your faith life. If you are paying attention to what's been going on since 2019 you may be aware of disaffilations. At a special called General Conference in February of 2019 the body agreed upon a path for churches to leave the denomination and take their buildings and property with them. So if a church decides that they no longer want to be a part of the UMC and they are decide by 2/3 majority vote of the membership and payment of pension benefits and apportionments they can evade the trust clause and leave.
We at Oceanview want remain UMC. In 1987 when the property was purchased and ground broken on the building we entered into a covenant with the conference. We see no reason to break with that covenant. Other churches with different demographics and location have decided that leaving is the right thing to do. To our brothers and sisters in the faith that are leaving we say, "God be with you till we meet again."
Two articles are here to provide more information: