Grace Community – Fulfilling our Mission

Frequently Asked Questions

More details regarding the history of what led to the General Conference of 2019 can be found by clicking here.

Theological Division

Q. What issues have divided the United Methodist Denomination? A. There is division in a number of areas, including:

  • Human sexuality
  • How to read and interpret the Bible
  • The authority of the scriptures.
  • Different theologies in different geographical areas – one conference or church believing in something different than another.

Q. What in the history of the UM denomination has led to the division? A. The Methodist church was formed in 1939 with the merger of two denominations, bringing different theologies.  This continued in 1968, when the United Methodist church was formed after merging the Evangelical United Brethren church with the Methodists.  Diversity in the Methodist theology occurred as a result.   Rather than following one set of doctrines/beliefs, the different theologies were included in the Book of Discipline.
In addition, the thirteen seminaries in the United Methodist denomination teach multiple theologies that do not align with each other.

Disaffiliation

Q. Are any other Arkansas churches disaffiliating? A. Tommy Jones, Pastor Jeff’s brother, also has plans to leave the United Methodist Church.  Some smaller churches have approached Bishop Mueller.

Q. Why wouldn’t other churches also leave the United Methodist denomination? A. Below are some factors which prevent churches from leaving?

  • The trust clause, which states that all property is owned by the United Methodist denomination can be a deterrent.
  • Pastors receive guaranteed “employment” until 70 years of age.  In addition, they receive retirement benefits that secures their future.  Practically speaking, these terms would be very difficult to leave behind.

Q. Will the Grace congregation participate in the decision to leave the United Methodist Denomination? A. Grace members, regular attendees, and visitors will vote on April 28th.   There will be an electronic means to vote for those that will not be available on that day.

Q. What if the Grace vote is split?   What if there is a significant number who vote to remain in the United Methodist denomination? A. This could have a profound impact on negotiations with Bishop Mueller.  If there does not appear to be unity within Grace, he could decide to keep the Grace Community church in the United Methodist denomination.  However, Pastor Jeff would leave.

Q. What happens to our church buildings? A. If the vote is to disaffiliate from the UM church, Grace Community will continue to worship in our current buildings.   The bank owns the property as we still have a mortgage to pay.  

Q. How long will the disassociation take? A. It could be as short as two months; the Bishop is graciously working with us through this process.

Q. What is involved in the negotiation process with the Bishop? A. The first steps will include:

  1. The Church Council will send a letter to the bishop re: the desire to disaffiliate.
  2. Pastor Jeff will send his credentials resignation to the bishop.
  3. Negotiations will start that will focus upon how much/long we will pay in apportionment as well as if we will need to contribute to the unfunded pensions for UM pastors.

Grace – New Denomination

Q. What denomination will we be? A. Independent Methodist Wesleyan Non-Denominational

Q. What changes will occur for Grace as a Wesleyan non-denominational church? A. We will not be part of the collateral damage from the dysfunction in the UM denomination.   We will not have to send 10% to the UM denomination for apportionment.  Other than these two areas, you will not see a change. We will:

  • Follow the same theology.
  • Have the same mission for discipleship.
  • Have the same type of worship services.
  • Have the same staff.

Q. Where do you see Grace 5 years from now? A. Pastor Jeff sees Grace as a community who loves Christ, loves one another, and loves the world.  Jesus will continue to rule and reign.

Q. How does this affect our mission ministry? A. There is no impact – we will continue to participate in missions as we have always done.  We can continue to be a part of UMCOR as they accept assistance from other denominations.

Q. Without the structure of having a bishop and annual conference, how will decisions be made at Grace? A. The Church Council will be perform this role.  The fourteen members will continue to serve through our transition? The church will decide to retain the pastor, rather than the denominational conference.

Q. Would we join another denomination with shared theology? A. It is possible.   As Wesleyans, we want connection with others who have the same mission and values.  

Q. How will we be impacted financially as a non-denominational church? A. In reality, we will have 10% more since we will no longer have to pay apportionment to the UM denomination.   There will likely be a financial settlement as part of our negotiation with the bishop.

Q. What will replace the Book of Discipline? A. The Church Council is developing a set of bylaws and a constitution.  These will not be completed before the vote.