Keith Boyette: Clergy Moving to GMC Should Not Surrender Ordination Credential
Updated: Jan 11
The following letter is from Keith Boyette and is reprinted here with permission. It offers guidance to clergy considering movement into the Global Methodist Church. There has been some confusion regarding the question of whether and when clergy should surrender their annual conference membership, on the one hand, and their ordination credential, on the other. In short, there's a difference between conference membership and ordination. It may be helpful to remember that during the annual conference at which a person is ordained, two different events take place. First, ordinands are received into the annual conference. Second, they are ordained as elders. Ordained clergy who intend to unite with another denomination will withdraw their annual conference membership but retain their ordination, which will be transferred to and recognized in the new denomination. These persons are not leaving ordained ministry, and should not, therefore, surrender their ordination certificate. They are, however, leaving the United Methodist Church, which means they cannot continue as members of an annual conference once they join a new denomination. The relevant section in The Book of Discipline is paragraph 360.1. Read the full text of Keith's letter below for more info.
I am sharing this email with you in the hopes you will share the information widely among clergy who may be considering withdrawing from The United Methodist Church (UMC) to align with the Global Methodist Church (GMC) at some point.
First, some are asserting that membership in the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) requires clergy to “surrender their credentials” in the UMC. This is not correct. Under no circumstances should clergy turn in their ordination certificate(s) simply because they are members of the WCA. The WCA does not require its members to have membership in any denomination. The WCA is not a church or a denomination. We are an association of like-minded persons working for the renewal and revival of the church – both the UMC and other expressions of the church. The WCA is not the GMC. They are separate legal entities. The WCA has no ability to control the operations of the GMC. The WCA is not doing business as the GMC. WCA members only become members of the GMC by completing the process of alignment outlined in the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline. If a persons has not done so, they are not a member of the GMC.
Second, if a clergy person is moving toward membership in the GMC, they remain members of the UMC until they are accepted into membership in the GMC. You should not surrender credentials in anticipation of membership in the GMC. You remain a clergy person in the UMC until you are accepted into the GMC. Applying for membership and recognition of your ordination does not constitute membership.
Third, you become a member of the GMC only when the Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) votes to make you a member and recognizes your ordination. At that point and only at that point do you withdraw from membership in your UMC annual conference. You do so under paragraph 360.1 of the UMC Book of Discipline which is entitled “Withdrawal to Unite With Another Denomination.” Under that section, you deliver a written request to withdraw from the UMC annual conference to the conference secretary and you attach any certificate of membership that was issued at the time you were admitted to membership in the conference. Many of us did not receive such a certificate and if that is the case you simply deliver the written request to withdraw. You do not surrender your credentials of ordination. Judicial Council Decision 696 addresses this very situation and only requires a person to withdraw from membership, not to surrender their credentials. I attach a copy of Decision 696 for your information.
Finally, under no circumstance do you surrender your credentials of ordination. Such a surrender would occur only if you were withdrawing from the ordained ministerial office under paragraph 360.2. Conference membership and ordination are two separate matters. Paragraph 360.2 which is entitled “Withdrawal From the Ordained Ministerial Office” only applies to situations where you are leaving the ordained ministerial office entirely. If you are aligning with the GMC, you are not doing so as you are continuing in the ordained ministerial office, just in another denomination. Paragraph 360.2 does not apply to those who are continuing as ordained clergy persons. There are no Judicial Council decisions requiring a clergy person to surrender their credentials when the person has withdrawn from membership to unite with another denomination and continue in the ordained ministerial office.
You are free to share this email with anyone. If you have questions, please be in touch with me.
Rev. Keith Boyette has been appointed the Transitional Connectional Coordinating Officer of the Global Methodist Church beginning June 1, 2022. He will serve as the new church’s senior executive and administrative officer through its convening General Conference. He currently serves as President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. Prior to his service as the president of the WCA, Boyette was the founding and lead pastor of Wilderness Community Church (Spotsylvania, Virginia) for 19 years. An elder in The United Methodist Church, and for eight years a member of the denomination’s Judicial Council (its “Supreme Court”), Boyette recently withdrew from membership in the Virginia Annual Conference of the UM Church and is now an elder in the Global Methodist Church.
Dr. Matt O’Reilly is Lead Pastor of Hope Hull United Methodist Church near Montgomery, Alabama, Director of Research at Wesley Biblical Seminary, and a fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is the author of Paul and the Resurrected Body: Social Identity and Ethical Practice, The Letters to the Thessalonians, and Bless the Nations: A Devotional for Short-Term Missions. Connect at theologyproject.online.