July 25, 2019
Cabinet of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
c/o Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater Northwest Episcopal Area
United Methodist Church
Pacific Northwest Conference Office
P.O. Box 13650
Des Moines, WA 98198
Subject: Withholding Apportionments
Dear Bishop Stanovsky:
First United Methodist Church of Bellevue (FUMCB) opposes the language currently in the UMC Book of Discipline that discriminates against LGBTQ+ persons. We also oppose the Traditional Plan passed at the 2019 Special Session of the United Methodist Church General Conference because it strengthens the current discriminatory policies embedded in the Book of Discipline. These policies damage lives and as the Traditional Plan unfolds, the policies will damage even more lives. As a reconciling church for more than 20 years, FUMCB has invested its time, talents and treasure toward a ministry of inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout that time, we faithfully supported the wider UMC while patiently pressing it to shed its discriminatory policies.
The hypocrisy of passively supporting the exclusionary policies of the wider UMC while actively supporting our local reconciling ministry is no longer tolerable. FUMCB intends to stop this disingenuous practice.
Our initial step will be ceasing to provide passive financial support (through our apportionments) for the discriminatory policies of the general conference. We understand this is a complicated issue and we seek your guidance on the best way to use withholding of apportionments as a tool to resist policies that are inconsistent with our position as a reconciling church. The information available to FUMCB about how apportionments are dispersed is too general to allow us to identify funding that supports discriminatory policies. We trust that you as senior administrators for the UMC have access to more detailed information and can provide us and other PNW churches with guidance on apportionment funding that directly or indirectly supports the discriminatory policies of the general conference. Our intention is to withhold a portion of our apportionments and place the withheld funds in an account for disbursement after the UMC’s discriminatory policies/actions have been resolved. We understand other conferences have established an escrow account for this purpose.
FUMCB, therefore, requests that the cabinet of the PNW conference:
- evaluate the direct and indirect funding of discriminatory policies of the UMC General Conference and provide your best estimate of the percent of our apportionments that funds those policies,
- provide guidance regarding how best to manage withheld apportionments, and
- share this information with all of the PNW Annual Conference churches so that we all can make an informed decision regarding passive funding of the UMC’s discriminatory policies.
We applaud the actions taken at the 2019 Session of the PNW Annual Conference to investigate and select a path forward that allows ministry with integrity in the PNW conference. We believe that our request is an important step on that path and ask that the cabinet provide a prompt response to our request. Our Leadership Council is determined to take action no later than October 15, 2019. Please respond to our request before that date so we can consider your guidance prior to taking action. We have determined that in the absence of guidance, we will begin withholding some or all of our apportionments and placing the withheld amount in a local church account until the discriminatory policy and actions cease or new information is provided that informs a different decision.
Thank you for considering this request. FUMCB looks forward to receiving your guidance.
David P. Edwards
Leadership Council Chair
cc: UMC Churches of the SeaTac District