News from the Church Council
Summary of Church Council Meeting, Sunday, August 13, 2023
The work has begun! Our disaffiliation task groups are all hard at work on the details that need to be completed by December. We received updates at our bi-weekly Council meeting.
- Staff-Parish Relations has recommended sustaining positions for our current pastors and staff wherever possible. They continue to work through compensation and benefits analysis and are reviewing the employee handbook.
- Finance worked last week on setting goals and strategies for raising the funds necessary for disaffiliation and to meet the church budget for the remainder of 2023. This fall, you can expect a silent auction and dinner to support the ministries of the church.
- Identity and Governance got down to business and is doing the ever “joyous” work of reading through our current governing documents and drafting new ones.
- The big news is that a name for the church has been selected. Drum roll please…we will be known, once again, as Kennesaw Methodist Church. If leadership feels the need for a rebranding/renaming effort after this year, that remains a possibility, but for now, we slip back into our old name just like that comfortable pair of jeans in your closet.
- Insurance and Legal has begun gathering information on our current incorporation filing and insurance policies. They have been on hold until this meeting because of decisions that needed to first be made by other teams.
- Intellectual Property has been hard at work in their “war room” with scanners whirring and staples being pulled, and treasures that have been found within our historical documents and photos. They have gotten through about 80% of the volume of material, but the remaining 20% is very delicate and will take longer than what has been accomplished. Documents and photos will either be sent in paper or electronic form to the Pitts Theological Library at Emory University for safekeeping in their archives.
- Other team members have audited the building and grounds and determined what signage needs to be altered and replaced. They are currently exploring the most cost-effective way to do this work.
Everyone is off to a great start. Extra volunteers have pitched in and many of you have made generous contributions to the cause or have pledged support already. As of today, $32,047 is on hand of the roughly $200.000 that we will need before December. Keep up the good work!
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In 1944, just before the beach landings in Normandy, General Eisenhower wrote two letters. One letter, which we have a copy of, shared the news of victory in the invasion. The second letter was to share that the invasion had been repelled and many more lives had been lost. The Supreme Allied Commander knew that the outcome was not guaranteed, and he prepared for any eventuality.
On the eve of our church conference, I find myself writing two letters. One to share in the event that the vote passes by the 2/3 necessary to disaffiliate, and the other in case the vote falls short. After writing two letters and praying over them, I realize that only one letter is needed.
Tonight, many of you attended the conference and cast your ballots. 189 ballots were in favor of disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church, 44 were against, and there were 0 abstentions. The motion to disaffiliate carried with 81% of the vote.
For some of you, this will be good news. For others, this creates more anxiety and grief. God desires unity and harmony for his people. I believe that God grieves over our division and our priority needs to be working to mend broken relationships and bringing everyone together.
I also believe that God still has plans for his church, whether we are United Methodist or another brand of believer. There is still a community around us that is looking for Christ in us, families that have basic needs that we can meet, and children and teens that will grow into faithful followers of Jesus.
Beginning today, we return to working toward God’s vision for his church in Kennesaw. This morning, I spoke about the eternal importance of the decision AFTER the decision. I am still hopeful that we will choose each other, regardless of the outcome of this vote.
I invite you to pray for each other on Monday and Tuesday. The church office will be closed, except for pastoral care, and we will all spend time with family and friends and in prayer for all of you. Beginning Wednesday, Pastor Laurie, Pastor Brent, and I will set aside time for anyone wishing to talk and to answer any questions you have. Give us a call or stop by. We are here for you.
In the months to come, there will be more developments. Your leadership team has worked hard and sacrificed much to bring us to this point, and they will be called on to lead us forward in the time to come. I want to thank them for their commitment and for those who have lifted all of us in prayer. Stay tuned, there is more information to come. We will share what we know, when we know it.
Rest well tonight. My prayer is that God will surprise you with grace and peace.
We would like to invite you to an informational meeting on Sunday, June 11th at 2:00 pm in the Sanctuary to discuss the upcoming vote on disaffiliation. You will have the chance to ask questions you may have. We hope you can make it.
Update on KUMC Lawsuit 5/20/2023
In the latest meeting with the NCLL Lawyers, the North Georgia Conference has agreed to comply with the Court Order and not file an appeal. The timeline for KUMC to vote has been set at July 2 at 7 pm. It is important that all church members be present at this Church Conference as only those in attendance will be allowed to vote. Please put this date on your calendar and plan to be here to vote on whether or not you want KUMC to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. We are trying to schedule at least one more Town Hall Meeting to deliver information to anyone who has not yet been able to attend one of the previous meetings.
There will be a specially called conference in Athens on November 18, 2023, for the North Georgia Conference to vote on the 185 who vote to disaffiliate.
Added May 19, 2023
Update on the KUMC Joint Lawsuit:
As you should know, KUMC Council voted on March 12, 2023, to join approximately 185 other United Methodist Churches in a lawsuit against the North Georgia Conference for their arbitrary “pause” in all conference churches’ ability to vote on whether or not they wished to disaffiliate from the UMC. The decision to join the lawsuit was made because our Council felt that KUMC should be allowed to vote and decide for themselves on this issue. (As did the other churches in the lawsuit.) On Tuesday, May 16, 2023, the case was heard in the Superior Court of Cobb County by Judge J. Stephen Schuster. Many of you may have already read news of this in the Marietta Journal and the Atlanta Journal. The Council wanted to inform you as soon as we had information on how to proceed. The lawyers had asked that we not take action until they had finalized the order and the judge has signed it.
The judge ruled that the churches should be allowed to vote. Our lawyers, Dan Parr and David Gibbs, held an informational meeting today at 3:30 p.m. to explain all the judgements and ramifications of the judgements for our churches. Below is the information that we received today.
David Gibbs praised God and said that the ruling gave us a lot to be thankful for. He praised all who attended the court hearing and said everyone displayed Jesus’ goodness! What was determined: The judge ordered the North Georgia Conference to allow the vote on disaffiliation to the churches involved in the lawsuit. The first step is for the District Superintendent to notify Reverend Stroud or a Council representative telling us the date for the vote. Time is of the essence and it should be done prior to June 1. If the District does as ordered, we will then have a church-wide vote on whether or not we wish to disaffiliate. For the disaffiliation to be approved we must have a 2/3 majority of all church members present and voting.
Because the District said they would appeal, this may not happen. If not, we do not need to do anything. Our lawyers will seek relief from the court as our representatives. They assured us that if nothing happens before Monday, May 22, 2023, they will begin the legal processes necessary.
The actual order is now a public record and can be provided to anyone who would like to see it. There is also more detailed information available. If you have questions please contact me, Dr. Ann Baker, or Michael Lumpkin.
Added March 1, 2023
Update on Response to Request Church Conference Vote on Disaffiliation:
In regard to the letter sent to the District Superintendent asking for a called Church Conference (all members of the church) vote, a reply was received that “…during this season of pause, [December 28, 2022 announcement of a pause in the paragraph 2553 disaffiliation process.] the appointive cabinet will not hold any church conferences for the purposes of disaffiliation.” KUMC Council began a discussion about whether or not to join other North Georgia Conference Churches in a joint lawsuit regarding this issue. The decision was made to study this option further.
Added December 30, 2022
Sisters and Brothers,
On December 28, an email announcement from Bishop Haupert-Johnson and the district superintendents of the North Georgia Annual Conference was sent throughout the conference. This informed us that all local church disaffiliation processes are “paused” until, at the earliest, the conclusion of the 2024 General Conference.
Your church council made the decision earlier this month that, in January, it would request a disaffiliation vote when the conference process allowed for the requests to be placed. The council reached this decision with a desire that every member of KUMC be allowed to voice their opinion and cast their vote.
The statement indicated that the reason for pausing the process is that “the cabinet has discovered and observed that many local churches have been misled about the disaffiliation process and have been presented with information about the process, and about The United Methodist Church and its leadership, that is factually incorrect and defamatory.” For us at KUMC, nothing could be further from the truth. Your leaders, pastors, and staff have endeavored to act with the utmost integrity throughout the process and have worked diligently to dispel any unsubstantiated claims, rumors, or falsehoods.
While we, like many of you, are disappointed with this news, we will be exploring KUMC’s options in the coming days and will keep you informed. Some of you indicated that you were unlikely to remain at KUMC if the church did not disaffiliate. We hope and pray that you will continue to be active in ministry and worship at KUMC. It is still your church home. It is a place where you have encountered and befriended Jesus. It is the home where you found a family that loves and supports you. It is a community where you have served together to bring hope and change to Kennesaw and the world for over 145 years. Please consider all these things when determining your future with KUMC.
On January 8th, we will worship together just as we have. We will pray for our 2023 leadership team, celebrate Holy Communion together, and witness the baptism of one of our students. We hope that you will join us.
~Rev. Alex Stroud, Ann Baker, and Todd Moore