I have said it at every information meeting and every inquiry around Disaffiliation, “I don’t want anyone to leave the table.” Seventeen churches in the Purchase District however did decide to leave the table, and their votes were ratified at the Tennessee-Western Kentucky (TWK) Special May 22nd Called Annual Conference. All the churches in the TWK Conference making a this decision were prayed for and sent forward to continue their work of being Christ to a world in need at our gathering. Now, we are called to move forward.
Local churches are the heart of our mission. Local churches throughout the Purchase District work daily in our neighborhoods with outreach and missional endeavors that express our love. The impact we collectively provide in our Western Kentucky communities for spiritual, physical, and emotional needs is vital. I write all this to say that the mission and ministry of the United Methodist Church (UMC) is ongoing despite the divisions highlighted by Disaffiliation. I see and hear every day about the Food Pantries, Coat Closets, Utility Assistance, Community Gardens, Day Camps, Passionate Worship, Afterschool programs, Community Kitchens, Campus Ministries, Senior Citizens Fellowships, Vacation Bible Schools, Ramp Building, Preschools, and many other outreaches that are essential for sharing the love of Christ.
The large majority of United Methodists are staying. We of course lament and bless those that have left. They are friends and colleagues, but our mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world is intact. News outlets and individuals only asking us about our split and conflict is an exercise in missing the point as Bishop Bill McAlilly often reminds us. When people ask you about the UMC, remember to share the hope of what your local church is about and how your community is pouring into your neighbors. We are united behind our love for those that Christ has commanded us to serve.
Nancy Johnston Varden
Purchase District Superintendent