Conference overwhelmingly approves disaffiliations

David Burke


Nearly 96% of the clergy and lay members of the Great Plains Conference who took part in an online annual conference business meeting on May 31 approved the disaffiliation of 155 congregations from The United Methodist Church.

Through online voting, 655 individuals voted to authorize the disaffiliations and 29 voted against.

“I just have to say this breaks my heart,” the Rev. Cheryl Jefferson Bell, community justice pastor at Resurrection, a United Methodist Church, said before the vote in an online comment. “I know this is the will of the people, but I just want to go on the record and say this is hard work, and I know you all know that, but I just have to speak it.”

Of the 155 churches, 96 are in Kansas and 59 are in Nebraska.

Coupled with 77 disaffiliations approved last year, the total is 232 churches leaving the denomination, said Scott Brewer, administration director and interim chief of staff.

That leaves about 750 churches in the Great Plains Conference, he said.

Brewer said the departing churches have completed the paperwork and the payment for disaffiliation.

This screen grab shows the participants in the online business session: conference lay leader Lisa Maupin, administrative director and interim chief of staff Scott Butler, Bishop David Wilson and parliamentarian Jesi Lipp.

“I’m pleased to say that a majority of them are very well on track to having everything completed by July 1,” he said.

The disaffiliating churches, Brewer said, do have a right to vote and speaking privileges at the in-person annual conference session next week in La Vista, Nebraska, as the disaffiliation terms begin on or after July 1.

Answering a question from a lay member, Bishop David Wilson said that pastors whose churches have disaffiliated but the clergy will remain United Methodist will be given new appointments.

“Certainly, for those who wish to stay with the Great Plains certainly do have appointments in the Great Plains Conference, and some have chosen to be elsewhere,” the bishop said.

Following the disaffiliation vote, the closing of 14 churches was approved by a 676-5 vote.

“These are not easy votes for us to take,” Lisa Maupin, conference lay leader, said following the closing vote and before leading a responsive prayer. “And we recognize that with each vote we have taken, each moment that we have prayed, we are forever changing the landscape of our conference. And yet we do so with grace, we do so with love, and we do so with the wish that all can continue to do ministries in the mission fields where we are called to be.”

By a 607-23 vote, the conference approved the minimum clergy compensation for 2024: full elders and deacons, $50,039; provisional elders and deacons, $47,327; associate members, $44,615; and licensed local pastors, $41,903.

Rev. Amy Lippoldt, president of the Council on Finance and Administration, presented the budget for 2024. The $13,580,938 budget is a 4% reduction from the 2023 budget, and next year’s budget was prepared without discounting for the loss of disaffiliating churches.

“In 2024, we’re going to be able to live within our means without significant reductions of staff or programs, which is pretty remarkable,” Lippoldt said. “That will probably not be true in 2025, when we will feel the full effect of all the disaffiliations in that budget year. But there will probably have to be some restructuring that goes along with that in order to live into our new reality of 750 churches in our conference.”

The budget is scheduled to be voted upon on June 10, the last day of the in-person annual conference.

Contact David Burke, content specialist, at

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