Dear Church Family,
Anderson Hills’ Denominational Discernment Team has been meeting diligently throughout the summer, participating in over twenty hours of meetings, as well as studying a large amount of material between meetings. We have strived to practice thoughtful and prayerful discernment throughout this entire process.
Our team entered this process with a shared deep love for Jesus and Anderson Hills, while also holding different opinions on many of the issues that we considered. Although our team is not uniform - we are unified, and we pray that the same will be true of our congregation as we consider the future of our church.
With the best interest of Anderson Hills in mind, the Denominational Discernment Team has voted on two unanimous recommendations that we are presenting to our members for a vote at a special Church Conference that is scheduled for Sunday, October 23 at 5:00 pm (new time) check-in at 4:30 pm. Our District Superintendent confirmed the vote date after our meeting with her on September 27.
Recommendation 1: We recommend that Anderson Hills disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church.
Methodism has always been and always will be a part of our core. Unfortunately, it seems that the United Methodist denomination is no longer a good fit for Anderson Hills. Here are some of the primary reasons we believe this to be true:
The United Methodist Church has shown a severe inability to hold key leaders accountable to our core beliefs and doctrine, which has resulted in much division.
Additionally, the governance model in place no longer provides the accountability and connection that it was designed to.
The denomination has been in serious decline, both in membership and financially, each year since its founding in 1968. We believe that by leaving now, we can grow more exponentially and be better stewards of our resources, including the $250,000 annual apportionment that we pay to the UMC every year.
You can read more in depth about our research and the reasons for this recommendation at www.andersonhills.org/denomination.
Recommendation 2: We recommend that Anderson Hills become an independent church and apply for membership in a Methodist-based network.
Although a part of the United Methodist denomination, Anderson Hills has operated like an independent church in many ways and for many years. While leaving a denominational structure would be a significant change, you can rest assured that our pastors, staff, programs, and church services will remain the same. We believe that becoming an independent church with the support of a network would only increase our ability to fulfill our mission and vision: to glorify God and produce fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ who transform the world.
Here are some of the main ideas that brought us to our recommendation:
Partnering with other large Methodist churches will allow us to continue our Methodist faith which has guided our church for 200 years, while better leveraging our human and financial resources for God’s Kingdom.
We would also be able to lean on the churches within our network for ministry ideas and best practices – and benefit from close-knit accountability among leadership.
It seems that we are entering into a post-denominational age. Our studies revealed that independent churches are generally more effective at reaching people for Jesus than mainline denominations. Most young families do not select a church based on denomination; they look for a church that is making a difference in the world.
By not being attached to a denomination, we would experience new freedom in many areas: the hiring and retention of pastors, ownership of our property, and investment in missions and church plants. Additionally, our pastors’ time would be fully focused on the needs of our local community and mission.
Anderson Hills is an innovative church, and we believe that it is time to innovate once again by stepping into a new connection. Please take a look at the resources provided at www.andersonhills.org/denomination for further information.
Our Church’s Response to these Recommendations
We are at one of the most important times in Anderson Hills’ history, and the choices to disaffiliate and join a network must be made by our membership. Here’s what we’re asking you to do:
Learn more in the following ways:
- Review the information at www.andersonhills.org/denomination.
- Join your life group or Bible study group in a discussion with Discernment Team
- If you are not in a group or cannot attend your group’s discussion with Discernment Team members, attend one of the open meetings on October 16 at 4:00pm in the Worship Center or October 23 at 9:30 and 11:00am in Room 17.
- Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us to vote on these two recommendations at a Church Conference on Sunday, October 23 at 5:00pm (new time), check-in at 4:30 pm in the Sanctuary.
Rev. Jenn Lucas will lead the first vote on Recommendation 1 (disaffiliation from UMC). If it passes with a two-thirds vote, we will become an independent church.
We will then vote on Recommendation 2 (joining a Methodist-based network).
If we vote to disaffiliate, we will immediately adopt governing bylaws that are based on our current Methodist beliefs and practices. Our intention is to share these with you before the vote.
Our team has worked diligently and prayerfully to bring you these recommendations, and we wholly believe that the greatest days of Anderson Hills lie ahead. We are thankful to be serving Jesus with you!
Pastor Jon & The Denominational Discernment Team