White's Chapel Family,
After long months of prayer, discernment, and conversation, tonight, our church voted by an overwhelming majority (93.6%) to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. In total, 2,505 members voted: 2,338 for disaffiliation and 160 against (with 7 abstaining).
Firstly, we know that, as we send this update, there are some in our church family who are hurting right now. We know that there are those who are disappointed and others who are grieving… and wondering if they can stay connected to White’s Chapel. If you find yourself in that place this evening, we want to speak to you: Please know that you are welcome here and that you are loved here. And as a church, let us covenant to pray for them and for our entire congregation – that God would lead us to continue sharing the gospel of Jesus with the world.
Let us, also, please keep in our prayers our friends and colleagues in the United Methodist Church: for its lay-, clergy-, and episcopal leadership. These are incredibly difficult days, and the work that lays before them is as daunting as it is essential. We would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to (again) thank our District Superintendent, Rev. Philip Rhodes, and our District Administrator, Melissa Shamburger, whose help has been invaluable during these past few months.
Now, it would be dishonest of us not to confess that this has been a tremendously difficult season of ministry; but in the midst of it, we have been bolstered by the support and prayers of our congregation. In fact, these days have afforded us some amazing experiences as we’ve been invited into your homes and into your lives. Thank you for the honest, heartfelt, and Spirit-led conversations that we’ve had – we are overwhelmed by your trust.
As we turn our eyes toward the future, we are energized. We are excited. And we are eager to get busy building our “what’s next” – following God into the future and entrusting ourselves to his guidance and loving care.
In part, that means remaining (in fact, growing) the dynamic, Christ-centered congregation we have always been – focused on loving God and loving others. That means expanding our missional focus: reaching people for Christ across the street and around the world. That means raising up Christians who live out their faith as expressed in Holy Scripture – making more deeply-committed followers of the way of Jesus Christ!
We know that the journey ahead will not be without its challenges, but with God and with each other, we are “confident that the One who began a good work is [us] will bring it through to completion” (Philippians 1:6)!
Please know how much we love you… and how honored we are to get to be your pastors!
With all God’s grace,
John & Todd