Next steps to disaffiliate after denial

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:32 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The First United Methodist Church of Jonesboro is working through a new process after disaffiliation was denied in November.

This is the first time we are hearing from the pastor of the church, John Miles, since disaffiliation was denied.

He said it was devastating when the vote came through because he thought it would be approved.

“It was devastating, I thought we were going to be approved. I was heart broken and I was devastated,” said Miles.

He said now they are on a path to work towards what many in the congregation wanted.

Miles said nearly 70% of the congregation voted to disaffiliate, so they are still working to make that happen.

“We believe that our church vote to disaffiliate by almost 70 percent,” said Miles. “So, we are working towards that but we want to do it in an orderly faithful fashion.”

It starts with negotiations between the group Stay UMC and the Annual Conference.

“At this point we are trying to work through the conference now and see if the Bishop can set something up between us,” he said.

If negotiations are made and disaffiliation is approved, then the church will go through with disaffiliation. Miles said they are working to make sure they have a plan in place.

“We’ve just all got to be prepared this might work. This might happen in the next couple of weeks or it might take longer and we are working towards what the majority of our church requested,” he said.

Miles said they have a scheduled meeting to make preparations in the case that disaffiliation is approved.

The meeting will look at the affiliation status, bylaws for the church if they disaffiliate, and other items.

Miles said the bylaws will be published for the congregation to review soon. He said they are working out the final details.

The Northeast District Superintendent of the United Methodists of Arkansas, Reverend John Fleming, published a note saying that the meeting scheduled by Miles is not authorized by the Conference and any bylaws voted on would be “deemed to have no legitimacy.”

Miles explained the meeting being held is to plan for the future if disaffiliation is approved.

“Basically we are trying to set ourselves up in case the negotiations work, we are trying to give ourselves some leverage, we are kind of on a two-track system,” he said.