Northern Illinois United Methodists are headed toward the disaffiliation finish line…one way or another.

But you may be wondering, “Why bother?”

Chicago-land Natives of a certain age will likely remember the inimitable voice and signature call of horse-racing announcer Phil Georgeff. For over 30 years, he called the races at Hawthorne Race Course, Sportsman’s Park, and Arlington Park. Back in the day the sports segment on local 10 pm television news carried not only the scores and highlights of Chicago’s major league ball teams of several sorts, but also the horse-racing news.

Phil’s signature line got your attention because it announced the last turn before the stretch run to the finish line. (Here you go, for old time’s sake: Secretariat Wins 1973 Arlington Invitational Stretch Call by Phil Georgeff).

Phil’s signature call came to mind as some of our local United Methodist congregations and leaders from the Northern Illinois Annual (Regional) Conference are finalizing disaffiliation negotiations. Some might succeed. Some will not. Some will simply leave. Soon the race to the finish line will be over for all.

It has been grueling and exhausting for whole congregations attempting to come to a decision and then come up with the resources to pay the required costs.

Is it really worth it? Have things become so serious that it has to come to this? Why are

Yes. Here’s why congregations are leaving the United Methodist Church.

Our United Methodist sisters and brothers at Church of the Good Shepherd in Lebanon, PA hosted an event a few weeks ago (Saturday, February 25th) with a large crowd to hear two speakers present information on the current denominational division. You can hear both of them through the link below, but if you want to know why some churches are deciding to leave the denomination you will want to listen to Rev. Joe DiPaolo, Senior Pastor at First UMC in Lancaster, PA, for his presentation on these four points:

  1. A major split is unfolding in the United Methodist Church in real time right now. It is no longer possible to deny or minimize the amount of change coming to United Methodism.
  2. Why is the split occurring at this time and how have we gotten to this point over the last few years?
  3. What are the differences between the Global Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church flowing from this split?
  4. What does this mean for local Methodist churches now and into the near-term future?

Here’s the link: Why Are Congregations Leaving the United Methodist Church?

You can watch Rev. DiPaolo provide a dispassionate, informed presentation. You can also watch/listen to the presenter who supports remaining in the UMC.

And I think, as we are in the “home stretch” of disaffiliations that will conclude in Northern Illinois in June and in all parts of United Methodism by the end of the year, you will appreciate Rev. DiPaolo’s concluding question:

“If we can no longer live together in peace under the same roof, why not choose to live as next-door neighbors cooperatively and happily?”

Despite the very real differences that bring local churches to leave, it seems like a good question as congregations in Northern Illinois and our Annual Conference officials negotiate terms of departure. Maybe instead of parting as winners and losers we can separate as siblings in Christ…with both the UMC and the GMC seeking a vibrant and healthy future.

It all winds up in the next few weeks.

Here they come, spinning out of the turn!



Ordained Elder/Senior Status
Great Lakes Conference
Global Methodist Church

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