Comparing the Protocol with the UMC Next & Indianapolis Plans

Last week United Methodists received news that representatives of various caucuses and of the Council of Bishops agreed to a Protocol for the separation of the denomination that will be presented at General Conference. As reported, it represents a significant compromise of various plans and proposals. Two of the major plans that appear to have influenced the Protocol were the Indianapolis Plan and the UMC Next Plan.

This chart compares the Protocol with those two plans (the Protocol is in the center to illustrate how the other two feed into it). Legislation for the Protocol has not been crafted yet, and it may be useful for delegates to see the gaps and the details in the other two plans to assist their work of perfecting legislation.

 Indianapolis Plan (‘New Denominations of United Methodism’)Protocol (‘Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation’)UMC Next Plan (‘Next Generation UMC’)
SignatoriesUS-Based Traditionalist Caucus Leaders, American Centrist & Progressive LeadersUS-Based Traditionalist, Centrist & Progressive Caucus Reps; US & CC Bishops; a clergyperson from Philippines CCAmerican Centrist & Progressive Leaders, including US bishops; a General Secretary & a US DS
Vision of SeparationFormation of a traditionalist and a centrist churches with option for a progressive church; legal continuance of UMC through a centrist church; all may use UMC name & logo with a modifierFormation of a traditionalist church and possibility of other denominations; UMC continues post-separationUMC remains intact; COB may recognize other denominations that are formed by former UMC local churches; new denominations formed may use UMC name & logo with ‘a secondary moniker’
Issue of SexualityTraditionalist church retains traditional teachings on sexuality; Centrist church implements SP and OCP post-separation; Progressive church policy of church wide policy & practice of same-sex weddings & ordination of LGBTQ personsPotential changes in post-separation UMC (see timeline)Removes from Discipline: traditional definition of marriage, ‘incompatibility’ statement, prohibition on ordination of LGBTQ persons ban on funding LGBTQ programs Expanded definition of inclusion in BOD; Asks for a 2023 GC special session to ‘expand and codify the full participation and leadership of LGBTQ persons in ministries and mission of the Church’
US Regional Conference See timelineSupports adoption of CT proposal for US Regional Conference
Process for Forming New DenominationsTraditionalist & Centrist churches=CC, AC, local church voting options;

Progressive church=50 local churches and/or 1 AC; CC may form or align with another denomination
Traditionalist church=CC, AC, local church voting options  Formed by local churches, not ACs;

Recognition of new denomination ‘based on scale, polity, and shared Christian ministry and mission;’ COB authorized to ‘determine whether an association of local churches qualifies as a New Denominational Expression of Methodism’ and whether UMC enters into an ecumenical agreement with them; Does not limit the number of New Denominational Expressions of Methodism
Voting EligibilityAC CC Local ChurchesAC CC Local ChurchesLocal Churches only, no AC or CC voting
Voting ProcessVoting is voluntary;

If not vote, default position: US AC=centrist church CC=traditionalist church

Non-US AC=the decision of their CC

Local Churches=the decision of their AC or CC
Voting is voluntary;

If no vote, default position:

Non-US AC=the decision of their CC

Local Churches=the decision of their CC
Voting is voluntary;

If no vote, default position=UMC
Voting ThresholdsMajority at all levelsCC=2/3

AC=20% approval to take vote; 57% to separate from UMC [in both US and CCs]

Local Church=church council determines: Majority or 2/3
Local Church property, assets, liabilitiesReleased from trust clause; local church retains all assets & liabilitiesReleased from trust clause; local church retains all assets & liabilitiesReleased from trust clause; local church retains all assets & liabilities; (see requirements below)
Local Church apportionments, other feesNo requirements other than legally binding agreements (e.g. loans)“At separation, such a local church shall not be required to pay any sums to the Annual Conference other than previously documented loans”GCFA provides standardized separation agreements: ‘shall not be required to pay more than 12 months of apportionments;’ Other liability payments to AC required; Payment terms at ‘a reasonable rate of interest’ and ‘shall not exceed ten (10) years;’ Transfer of pension liability to the new denominational expression if there is an ecumenical agreement; AC may develop additional requirements; Requires AC majority vote
Dissafiliation to become an independent local churchRelies on ¶ 2553Affirms ¶ 2553Above mentioned requirements and pension liability payments
PensionsWespath continues services; Liabilities assigned to new denominations or, to local church if it becomes independentWespath continues services; Liabilities assigned to new denominations or, to local church if it becomes independentWespath continues services; Liabilities assigned to new denominations or, to local church if it becomes independent
AC, JC, CC property, assets, liabilitiesRetained by those entitiesRetained by those entitiesRetained by those entities
AC, CC related-institutionsAffiliate with the denomination of their AC, CC unless their bylaws allow for realignment  
General Boards & AgenciesBecome independent to service new denominations: Wespath UMCOR UMW UMM UM Publishing House All other continue in the centrist churchRemain part of a post-separation UMC; may provide grant money to traditionalist church to address racismRemain part of UMC; May form agreements to serve new denominations
Financial Agreements“A process and principles for allocating general church assets to fund transition to new denominations and to be devoted to the missional purposes of each denomination thereafter would be adopted by the 2020 General Conference.”  GCFA budgeted for 2021-2024: $25m for the traditionalist church$2m escrowed for other potential denominations GCFA budgeted for 2021-2028 (with $13m contributed by the traditionalist church): $39m to address “systems of systemic racial violence, exploitation and discrimination” (includes earmarks for National Plans and AU)Grants for New Denominational Expressions; Differing amounts based on: # churches & #professing members; Based on amounts remitted to ACs for general apportioned funds in most recent fiscal year  
Moratorium (Abeyance) on Complaints & Charges during Transition PeriodYesYesYes
At end of GC—moratorium
Aug. 1—new denominations may begin operating on interim basis;temporary suspension of retirements & election of bishops
July 1—local churches may begin voting

Jan. 1—Deadline for US AC vote
Mar. 31—Deadline for CC vote
Fall—inaugural GCs for new denominations (Progressive church may be given extended time)

2021-2022 Retirement & election of bishops

All denominations support funding for CC ministries 2028 Dec. 31—Deadline for final votes on realignments of CC, AC, local churches
Jan. 1—abeyance began
At end of GC—formation of new denominations begins

May 15—deadline to register new denominations with COB
July 1—deadline for US ACs to take affiliation vote
Dec. 31—deadline for CCs to take affiliation vote

Dec. 31—Deadline for local church affiliation vote; final payment to traditionalist church and other denominations

Final payment to address systemic racism
COB calls 1st session of post-separation UMC GC, which may consider constitutional amendment for a US regional conferenceIf US regional conference is adopted, COB calls for first session of such conference to consider legislation to repeal TP and other changes related to LGBTQ persons
At end of GC—moratorium; local church disaffiliation options begin; formation of new denominations begin
Aug. 1—Commission on the 21st Century Church begins work on proposal for (1) new constitution; (2) ‘lean & nimble governance structure;’ (3) role and relationships of general agencies; (4) provisions for a US regional conference structure

Autumn—GC special session to act on Commission’s recommendations

Dec. 31—deadline for local church disaffiliation options

Published by

Notes for a New Methodism

Rev. Darren Cushman Wood is the senior minister of North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana and is an elder and full member of the Indiana Annual Conference. He is a graduate of the University of Evansville and Union Theological Seminary (New York). Darren was a delegate to the 2004 & 2008 General Conferences and a delegate to the 2000 & 2016 Jurisdictional Conferences. He is the author of "The Secret Transcript of the Council of Bishops" and "Blue Collar Jesus: How Christianity Supports Workers' Rights."

2 thoughts on “Comparing the Protocol with the UMC Next & Indianapolis Plans”

  1. Thanks for your effort. This is the first concise comparison of “the plans” I have seen. Very helpful in understanding the scope of the possible options


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