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Director of Communications
For Immediate Release
Des Moines, IA — The Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church held a special session on May 23, 2023, via Zoom Webinar to vote on proposed Disaffiliation Agreements between the Iowa Annual Conference and United Methodist local churches seeking to leave The United Methodist Church.
The Resolution for the Approval of Disaffiliation Under Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline included 83 Iowa churches that will no longer be a part of The United Methodist Church effective June 30, 2023. The vote passed by 93.6%. All the disaffiliation agreements can be viewed in the Resolution.
“It is with sadness to see these churches leave,” said Bishop Kennetha Bigham-Tsai. “But it was our intent to allow churches, that had duly voted to leave, to do so in a spirit of grace. It is now time to move on and do the ministry to which we have been called and to be vehicles for healing within the Iowa Annual Conference.”
The vote comes after wider discussions in The United Methodist Church related to whether churches and clergypersons believe that LGBTQIA+ members should be allowed to marry and be ordained as clergypersons within the denomination, including a Special Session of the General Conference in 2019.
Churches in Iowa went through a process under Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline, the fundamental book outlining the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of The United Methodist Church.
“This was a very painful event for all of us,” said Rev. Bill Poland, Interim Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries. “We bless those churches that have chosen to disaffiliate. To those churches that remain, we want to encourage them to reengage with their mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The world needs us to engage in our purpose for being here. That purpose isn’t confined to those who are inside the church walls, or who have been part of this debate. Our urgent mission is to those who are outside, and Christ is already there. We just need to follow.”