Scroll below to learn more about the affiliation process and what Timberlake is doing.
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9–11 (ESV)
WHAT IS TIMBERLAKE DOING?
Here's what Timberlake is doing.
In the Spring of 2022, Timberlake established a steering committee to explore the issues within the UMC, and our relationship with the UMC as well as options on how Timberlake could disaffiliate if we choose to. As part of this discernment process, there were two congregational town hall meetings (July 17 & 24) where we heard about the issues and our options, and to answer questions.
We held a congregational Q/A meeting (July 25) with our District Superintendent, Rev. Denise Bates as part of the discernment process, which was required by the Annual Conference. On Sunday, Septepmer 4, we held our straw poll. Results are listed below.
Our church council met on Tuesday, September 6. Given the significant majority from the straw poll, Council reached a consensus to move forward with requesting an official vote hosted by our District Superintendent, Rev. Denise Bates. More information is listed below.
We held another Town Hall meeting on October 26, for more discussion and any questions or concerns that needed to be addressed by those in attendance.
We had our official vote on Sunday, December 11 at 12 PM in the Sanctuary for all members. Timberlake Council will proceed for Timberlake to disaffiliate from the United Methodist denomination
Wednesday September 7
Dear Timberlake Family, Your Church Council had a very productive and God-honoring meeting last evening. The main topic was the Straw Poll results and the next steps. 80.2% of voting members present are in favor of disaffiliation. Given the significant majority, Council reached a consensus to move forward with requesting an official vote hosted by our District Superintendent, Rev. Denise Bates...Click the button to read more about proceeding with the vote.
Straw Poll Results
Sunday September 4
Thank you to those members able to participate in the Straw Poll. As our Timberlake members discern our church’s relationship with the United Methodist denomination, the Virginia Annual Conference requires a specific process for a church that may choose to disaffiliate.
Those required steps that Timberlake has completed are...Click the button to read more about Straw Poll Results
Here's a video from Mark Coleman, Executive Director, on our UMC discernment process.
40 Days of Prayer and Discernment
July 25 - September 3
Our mission is to reach, feed, and release people to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And while our mission is unchanging, as is the gospel of Jesus Christ, circumstances do change. This 40-day period is designed to help the people called Timberlake to listen to the Spirit of God regarding the future of our church. The question before us is, What is God’s will for Timberlake? Is God calling us to remain United Methodist or to peacefully disaffiliate from the denomination?
Consider the words of C.S. Lewis from his book, Mere Christianity. In his book, he compares various expressions of faith (like churches and denominations) to rooms along the hallway of the Christian life. Each room represents a different part of the family of God. When considering which room to make our home, he writes this…
Above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling. The question should never be: 'Do I like that kind of service?' but 'Is holiness here?'
All Timberlake people are invited to join us for these 40 days of prayer and discernment. You are encouraged to pray for clarity and wisdom in our decision-making, unity in the congregation, faithfulness to the Lord, and strength from the Spirit to pursue our mission. We hope to use this process to release our future to God’s will.
Our 40 days of prayer and discernment will include four basic parts: daily ROOTED devotions, weekly fasting, worship, and Lifegroup conversations facilitated by Timberlake ambassadors.
Each week of this period will have a distinct focus:
Week of Sept 25: The spiritual exercise of discernment
Week of Aug 1: The authority of Scripture
Week of Aug 8: Covenant
Week of Aug 15: Mission
Week of Aug 22: Leadership
Week of Aug 29: The movement of the Holy Spirit
Discernment Practice 1: ROOTED
Timberlake publishes a daily devotional designed to help you reach out to God through the Scriptures. For this period, we offer ROOTED: 40 days of prayer and discernment. (Click here for ROOTED.) Each daily devotional will include four spiritual disciplines for discernment: Scripture reading, Silence, Self-examination, and Prayer.
Discernment Practice 2: Fasting
Fasting is practiced by people in the Bible when they are in pursuit of the will of God and the mind of Christ. This spiritual discipline reminds us that while food feeds the body, the grace of God feeds the soul. You are encouraged to fast from food or some other thing, like technology, one day a week during this time. Consider skipping two meals for a 24-hour fast. Take the time you would typically spend on these things and commit it to prayer.
Click here for Pastor Brad’s sermon on fasting. Scroll down to the audio file “March 6, 2022 Fasting 101".
Discernment Practice 3: Worship
The most important thing we do together as the church is worship the Living God. Our sermon series July 24 – Aug 21 is called We Are the Church. Scripture reminds us that we are called to gather together, encouraging one another, and then we are sent out into the world as the body of Christ. We aren't confined to a building, to a location, or even to a denomination. The church is the uniting of people under the gospel of Jesus Christ, being released into the world to make disciples of all nations. The church is an expression of the beauty of God, a community that worships the Lord, connects with our neighbors, serves the community, and lives in mission for God's kingdom. Remember, WE are the church!
Discernment Practice 4: Individualized Meetings
As part of the discernment process, Timberlake ambassadors will be available to meet with any group or person who requests a meeting. Contact Mark Coleman to make a request. We will be glad to answer your questions and pray with you as we discern God’s will together.
At the end of these 40 days, we will take a straw poll to determine our readiness to vote on the question of disaffiliation. We anticipate that we will hold a straw poll after each worship service on Sunday, September 4, 2022.
Many of the prayers and insights we are sharing with you during this period come from a book by author Ruth Haley Barton called Pursuing God’s Will Together. If you want to go deeper, consider picking up a copy for yourself.
If you have questions about these 40 days of prayer and discernment, or about the process for disaffiliation, contact us.
We want to hear from you!
UMC DISCERNMENT FAQ'S
What WILL change if we leave the UMC?
• We will need to remove “United Methodist” from our name.
• We will need to remove the cross and flame logo from our signage and buildings.
• Our budget - we will have approximately $130,000 to invest in our local ministries (apportionment money we pay to the UMC now).
• Our association with Methodist Men/Women will end, and these ministries will continue here at Timberlake as before but without that name. • The Bishop will not pick our pastors. Our membership and lay leaders will do this (like congregational churches do).
What will NOT change if we leave the UMC?
• Our hymnals
• Our worship services and order of worship
• Our location (we keep all of our property and assets)
• Timberlake’s theology, culture, mission, ministries, love of Jesus and our neighbors
• Much of our governance will likely remain the same. Our members and lay leaders will determine if there will be changes.
Why now? What’s changed?
We have been monitoring the deteriorating unity and quality of the UMC for some time. We were hopeful that corrections and solutions would be instituted. Instead, our Bishops and General Conference have only worsened the situation by refusing to address critical issues and problems, which have only intensified/exacerbated the growing divide. The Virginia Annual Conference has recently agreed to follow a specific process for churches wishing to disaffiliate, with a deadline of December 31, 2023.
What will the community be told if we leave the UMC?
If TImberlake were to disaffiliate with the United Methodist Church, our message to the community is the mission and ministries of Timberlake will not end. In fact, we anticipate growth and expansion of our ministries and impact in reaching, feeding, and releasing people to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are excited about our future.
What about our gay and lesbian members and friends – are they still welcome here?
Of course! Timberlake loves all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, or nationality. We are all children of God, sharing God’s love with all.
As a United Methodist Church, we historically have been governed by the UMC Book of Discipline. If we disaffiliate, what will be our governing document and church governance?
If Timberlake members vote to disaffiliate, the Church Council (or its designees) will work with an attorney to draft scriptural church bylaws detailing how our church will be governed. Timberlake members will vote on the bylaw document. The document will explain our governance (what committees/councils within the church will make which decisions, when and how elections will take place, and all other requirements for Timberlake to function.
Why will we not immediately join another denomination if we vote to disaffiliate?
• It will take time to study various denominations – Wesleyan, Global Methodist Church, Nazarene, and Free Methodist, to name a few.
• Timberlake does not “have to” join another denomination. We may choose to be independent (congregational) or associate with other like-minded churches.
What is the discernment process, and what are the details of how we disaffiliate?
• The Virginia Board and Bishop have specific rules and procedures we must follow, in addition to things Timberlake chooses to include in the process. •
Timberlake’s process is:
1. A steering committee studied the UMC issues and options. Timberlake Church Council reviewed committee recommendations and reached a
consensus to proceed with a congregational discernment process and potential vote.
2. Town hall meetings – congregational
3. Information meeting with District Superintendent Rev. Denise Bates – July 25 (required)
4. 30-day minimum time of discernment and prayer (required). To include meetings with Lifegroups, ministry teams, and individuals that have
questions or want to talk. We will also have a day of guided prayer.
5. A “Straw Poll” (required) of church members. To determine if there is a simple majority to call for a church vote.
6. Church vote – approx. September. (required – church members only and must be present to vote. A vote to disaffiliate requires a 2/3
7. Paperwork and legal matters (application deadline for Special Annual Conference is September 29).
8. New church name (must remove “United Methodist”). New incorporation and tax id.
9. Vote by Annual Conference (October 30).
10. Closing on real estate, disaffiliation official (within 30-days after Conference vote on October 30) estimate last week of November 2022.
1. Timberlake may keep our real estate and assets without penalty or purchase.
2. We must pay one year’s additional apportionment (approximately $130,000). This is not an additional cost, as we pay this annually as part of
3. We must pay our portion of the Annual Conference unfunded pension liability. This is the pension for all pastors that retired before 1982.
4. We must pay all legal fees, real estate transfer fees, and taxes.
We want to hear from you!