Shalimar UMC Discernment FAQ

Provided by Shalimar United Methodist Church Discernment Team
Do you have a question about the Discernment Process that Shalimar United
Methodist Church is currently undertaking? The following document shares the
answers to commonly asked questions of the Discernment Team.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Discernment?

Discernment provides a time for our church to pray and discern what we believe is best for us to fulfill the mission of our church in our community. Our Church Council voted to enter this period of discernment on January 30, 2023. This does not mean we have or will disaffiliate.
Entering into a time of discernment just begins the process for our church to review and discern if disaffiliation is the right path for us. A 40 Day Prayer Guide, Discernment Packet and other information to assist in the discernment process are available on the church website at In addition, question and answer sessions with guest speakers are being scheduled during this period of discernment.
What is the date of our Town Hall meeting?

We have scheduled a “Town Hall” meeting with our District Superintendent Rev. Jean Tippit for June 25, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The meeting will be available to view on livestream; however, you will be required to register your attendance for the livestream prior to the meeting to receive the link. Information on how to register for the Town Hall livestream will be published soon. The District Superintendent will provide her perspective and will allow questions that may be helpful for our discernment process.

What is the date of our Church Conference, and can we make the goal to meet the deadlines necessary for Shalimar United Methodist Church to go before the Called Special Session of our Annual Conference scheduled for November 2023?

The Town Hall meeting will be held June 25, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The Alabama-West Florida Conference (AWFC) requires ten (10) days including two (2) Sundays as the minimum discernment period following the Town Hall meeting before a Church Conference can be held.

Following the required discernment period, the Discernment Team will make a recommendation to the Church Council concerning whether a Church Conference should be called. If the Church Council votes to move forward with a Church Conference, a date will be confirmed with the District Superintendent. All professing members of the congregation will be provided an advance notice of a minimum of ten (10) days, including two (2) Sundays, prior to the called Church Conference. Notice will be given in at least two ways.

If disaffiliation is approved by two-thirds (2/3) majority vote at the Church Conference, all required paperwork must be presented to the AWFC prior to the September 15, 2023, deadline established by AWFC. If all this is completed by the deadline, Shalimar United Methodist Church will be listed on the agenda for the consideration of disaffiliation at the Called Special Session of the Annual Conference on November 12, 2023.
Who can vote at our Church Conference?

All professing members of Shalimar United Methodist Church will have an opportunity to vote. Members must be present to cast their vote in person. Votes cannot be received by mail or online means.
How much will it cost to exit the United Methodist Church and how will we pay for it?

The “fee” for disaffiliation is set based on apportionments as well as our share of unfunded
pension liabilities and retired clergy health insurance. The Alabama-West Florida Annual
Conference will provide us with a “Total Minimum disaffiliation number” in which we will be required to pay in one lump sum payment. Our current “fee” estimate is $685,934. The Finance Committee will provide final guidance on how we would pay for it. Options include a line of credit from a local bank, a capital campaign fund, and designated donations. All properties would be owned by “Shalimar Methodist Church” following disaffiliation.
How many churches have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church from the Alabama-West Florida Conference?

In June of 2022 at the regularly scheduled Annual Conference, five churches disaffiliated. A further 53 churches disaffiliated at the November 2022 Called Special Session. At the most recent May 7, 2023, Called Special Session, another 193 churches disaffiliated. This brings the current total number of churches that have disaffiliated to 233.

As of May 7, 2023, 318 United Methodist churches remain in the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
Will Shalimar United Methodist Church be joining a new denomination and how will we decide on which one?

Currently, we are only discerning our future with the United Methodist Church. If we move forward with a Church Conference, all members will only be voting about disaffiliation from the UMC.

If we, by a two-thirds (2/3) majority, vote to disaffiliate, then there are several denominational options available to consider. A comparison of the options can be found on pages 7–11 of the Discernment Packet. The Discernment Team will provide guidance and recommendations to our Church Council. The Church Council would then vote on our future denominational affiliation, If any.
Is it true that no bishops were elected that support the Book of Discipline’s 
stance on marriage?

Thirteen new bishops were elected by United Methodist delegates to five U.S. Regional Conferences on November 2–5, 2022. The entire slate of new bishops does not support the United Methodist Church's stance on marriage as outlined in the Book of Discipline. All thirteen bishops favor changing language of the Book of Discipline that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Instead, they would endorse the ordination of practicing gay and lesbian pastors and support the ability of pastors to perform same-sex weddings.

Two of the three new bishops elected in the regional conference that Shalimar United Methodist Church belongs to submitted the following responses to the question regarding human sexuality asked of all candidates nominated for bishop:

Bishop Connie Shelton:
"Human sexuality is a gift from God. Covenant relationship grounds human sexuality and relationships. I am committed to uphold the discipline of the United Methodist Church and I dream of a church embracing full inclusion of all people: conservatives, progressives, centrists, LGBTQ and heterosexual orientations, gender identities, celibacy in singleness, fidelity in covenant marriage."

"With the removal of language in the Book of Discipline regarding homosexuality and same gender weddings and ordination, I believe we can live faithfully as clergy and laity allowing one another to live into our convictions without demonization or characterization."

Bishop Tom Berlin:
"I affirm that the sexuality of gay and lesbian persons is an orientation that is an expression of the image of God in their lives. I have worked to change the Book of Discipline so that local churches and their pastors will be given the ability but not the requirement to offer Christian marriage to gay couples... I believe that our denomination can do this as well if duly qualified gay persons were licensed, commissioned, and ordained to serve as clergy in our denomination."

Bishop Robin Dease:
Elected as a write-in candidate at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. She did not publish a written response to her stance on human sexuality prior to the conference because she was nominated from the floor at the conference. Bishop Dease is on record as supporting full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in the church.
What if I want to remain United Methodist and our church votes to disaffiliate?

Members of disaffiliating churches can transfer their membership to an existing United Methodist Church in the area or join the General Roll of the United Methodist Church. Also, the Alabama-West Florida Conference, in some cases, is starting new United Methodist Churches in the vicinity of disaffiliating churches to accommodate those who wish to remain in the United Methodist Church.
If I am an LGBTQ+ person or ally, am I welcome at Shalimar United Methodist Church?

Yes! All are welcome and we fully believe that God’s grace extends to all who choose to accept this grace that comes freely through Christ. While believing the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching, we do not question any person’s salvation or relationship with Christ. We also believe it is possible for those remaining within our church community to disagree on this issue.
Where can I find additional information, or ask questions concerning discernment?

Click here for more discernment information. Printed copies are available by contacting the church office. You can submit your questions, comments, or requests by emailing

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