Calvary United Methodist Church | 131 West Second Street | Frederick, MD 21701 Church 301-662-1464 School 301-622-6783

When the people called “Methodists” were first came into being in the mid-18th century, it became necessary for property to be purchased for ministry and meetings. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had several lawyers work on language that made it clear that property was be held not by particular congregations, but rather be held in trust for the benefit of the larger denomination.  That language, known as “the trust clause,” is included in legal documents for every United Methodist Church today.


The trust clause captures an important characteristic of Methodism. We are part of a connectional system. In a connectional system, the question is not, “What is best for me or my congregation?” Instead, we consider what is best for all, for other believers and congregations and work that is carried out by the whole connection.


I mention all of this because we stand at a unique moment of history. In the special General Conference held in 2019, an action was approved that created a limited path for congregation to leave or “disaffiliate” from the United Methodist Church and suspend the trust clause. For the first time in 238 years of our history, local congregation could leave the denomination and take their church property with them.


I won’t go into all of the details here, but I do want to share that our connectional system is not something we should dismiss or discard too easily. To be connectional means that we recognize the ties we share with others and that we belong to church that is much larger than just our own congregation. When we drive around and see the cross and flame logo, we know that we hold something deep in common even with people we may not personally know. Although there may be things about the connectional church that need correction or amending, there is something important about the ties we share with others and how these ties can help us grow in our connection to God as well.


It deeply saddens me that any congregation would decide to leave the connection. So far in our area, few local churches seem to be pursuing this path, but in other parts of the country, as many as 30% of the congregations in an annual conference are considering this. This is a time we might all be praying for faithful discernment and faithful action, for unity and love to be made evident even when there is disagreement, and for the share witness to the gospel to all who are in need.


Grace and peace,


Pastor Steve