Next weekend the Special Session of the General Conference will begin for the United Methodist Church. There has been a lot said about the One Church Plan, the Traditional Plan, and the Connectional Conference plan. But there has not been much discussion about what happens in the event of a church split.
Currently, the Book of Discipline, the lawbook for the denomination, has something called the Trust Clause. You may be wondering what that means exactly. Briefly, the trust clause says that even though the local church holds the deed to the property the church is on and the building itself, it is held in trust for the United Methodist Church Denomination. Now, what does that mean? Basically, if a church leaves the denomination, the denomination keeps the property. The local church loses everything.
I am sure that there were good intentions when this practice began, but today it seems that it could be used as a weapon against local churches. This is especially true in a time when the church is poised to make a decision that could say we no longer believe the Bible at all on human sexuality, marriage, and the qualifications of ordination. For that matter, it is a vote that says the church may no longer believe what the Bible says about sin in general.
There have been petitions added to either suspend or do away with, the trust clause during this time of uncertainty on the way forward. There are rumors that this type of plan will be the only thing to pass during the General Conference next week.
In my opinion, this needs to happen regardless of the voted plan. The United Methodist Church is increasingly abandoning the teachings of Scripture and I am sure there are probably many local churches that would pull out if they could without the legal implications of the trust clause.