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Frequently Asked Questions


Will all United Methodist Churches in the Western PA Annual Conference who are seeking disaffiliation from the UMC be voted on in a group or independently at Annual Conference in June?

Legislation for Annual Conference has not been officially released yet.

Is our current bishop intending to allow Charter Oak Church to exit from the United Methodist Church?

Yes, we have a legally signed document from the Conference Trustees that if we pay the total amount in the agreement, we will be free from the UMC.

Why is Charter Oak Church so informed when other United Methodist Churches are not being presented with this information or being told that the information is wrong?

Members of Church Council and Pastor Chris have attended every meeting that the bishop and/or the district superintendent has called to share information about what is happening in the UMC. We have shared all of that information at open Family Meetings over the last five years. We don’t have any insider information or special information that no one else has. We’ve simply sought to do our homework, attend meetings, and share that information openly.

Can the UMC use our disaffiliation payments for other things than paying it toward the unfunded pension liability?

Yes. The bishop, Conference Trustees, and Conference Treasurer can use the funds that we pay to disaffiliate in any way they see fit. The Book of Discipline doesn’t specify how the funds must be used.


Are there ways for people at Charter Oak Church to contribute to help pay for the disaffiliation costs?

Yes. Church Council has designated a special fund called “The Disaffiliation Fund.” All funds given to this account will go to offset our costs to disaffiliate. Here’s the link for it -

Why is Charter Oak Church rushing the payment to exit so quickly from the UMC?

The Book of Discipline requires that disaffiliation happens before December 31, 2023. Our bishop has ruled that in Western PA it has to happen before August 14, 2023. We aren’t rushing. We are following what has been given to us as a timeline.

What are the financials for the exit from the UMC and how are we going to pay for it?

The disaffiliation costs are made up of three parts:

  1. 2% of the value of all of our property = $150,000

  2. 2 years of our annual apportionment = $461,593

  3. Our portion of the unfunded pension liability = $490,000.

    We will pay the disaffiliation cost from the disaffiliation fund, cash on hand, and a bank loan if necessary.

Can you explain the unfunded vs. over funded pension and why Charter Oak Church as to pay money to it for our exit?

 This is a simple question to a complicated issue. We are not answering this from a professional actuary perspective, but seeking to answer the spirit of the question. The UMC clergy pension prior to 1984 was not guaranteed. When the UMC created a new pension program for pastors, the pre-1984 pension for all Annual Conferences was rated as unfunded according to actuary tables. Each Annual Conference carries its own liability. At the end of 2022, the Western PA Annual Conference portion of the unfunded pension liability was around $40 million. Because of the economy, that amount has significantly been reduced – to our advantage. The new clergy pension benefit is over funded. At the end of 2022, somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million. The bishop has determined not to use the overfunded pension to finance the underfunded pension. Therefore, Charter Oak Church has to pay our portion of the unfunded pension.

If it is less expensive to be a part of the GMC, what are the plans for how Charter Oak Church will use the difference in money, both short-term and long-term?

The apportionment for the UMC was 13-14% of our giving. The apportionment for the GMC will be 3-4%. The savings will be around $168,000 a year. In the short run, we will use the savings to pay off any debt that we will incur due to disaffiliation. After the debt is paid in three to four years, then Jason Halfhill, our Executive Director of Central and Pastor Chris will present Church Council with the budget for the Frye Farm Campus based on our finances at that time. All of the apportionment is currently being paid by giving from the Frye Farm Campus.


Will Charter Oak Church remain a 501(c)3 organization?

Yes. We will be filing with the Commonwealth of PA to be recognized as a non-profit organization.

Will Charter Oak Church’s buildings be held in trust under the Global Methodist Church?

No. Charter Oak Church will own all of our buildings. There is no trust clause in the GMC.

What will our official name be when we exit the UMC?

We will be incorporated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as Charter Oak Church.

What management controls will the GMC have over Charter Oak Church?

We will submit an annual financial audit to ensure financial accountability. The GMC will hold our pastors accountable to the historic biblical beliefs of the denomination. The GMC will ensure that the leadership structure of the laity of Charter Oak Church is properly formed and implemented.

What is the process for leaving the Global Methodist Church?

A congregational vote called by Church Council. There’s no trust clause, therefore there would be no cost to leaving.

What are the mechanisms in place for removing unbiblical leadership or prevent rogue theology from entering the GMC?

There is no guaranteed appointment for pastors in the GMC. If a pastor’s theology changes to be outside of what the GMC believes, they will not receive an appointment to a church. If a church believes that their pastor has stepped out of historic, biblical teaching, they can request a new pastor. There is also no lifetime appointment for bishops. They can serve up to 12 years and then have to retire or return to the local church.

How do churches in the GMC find pastors?

Churches are the driving force behind the search for a new pastor. Instead of the bishop and district superintendent simply telling churches this is your new pastor, in the GMC the church has three options. (1) Inform the bishop and presiding elder (district superintendent) that they want to conduct the search on their own. (2) Ask the presiding elder for help in finding potential pastors to interview. (3) Ask the bishop to assign a pastor to them. Whichever one of the three a church decides, before a pastor is appointed to the church, the church, the pastor, the presiding elder, and the bishop all must agree to the appointment.

Will we lose our pastors if Charter Oak Church joins the Global Methodist Church?

Each pastor who is serving in a UM Church will need to decide if he or she will remain in the UMC, move to the GMC, or do something else. All of our pastors will be moving to the GMC.


Will the GMC have campgrounds and mission outreach ministries?

That is unknown at this time.

Is the Global Methodist Church Book of Discipline available to read online?

What is Charter Oak Church’s total membership versus attendance?

At the end of 2022 we had 950 members with about 1,500 people in average attendance.

Can members vote to go independent over joining another denomination?

No, Church Council has walked through a prayerful discernment process and believes God is leading Charter Oak Church to join the Global Methodist Church. Church Council will be recommending to the members of Charter Oak Church that we join the GMC. The vote will be to either join the Global Methodist Church or not. No other motions will be entertained at that time.

Why are you recommending joining the Global Methodist Church instead of going independent?

Most people believe that we’ve been an independent church – not realizing that we have been a part of the United Methodist Church since 1968. It appears on the surface that we have not been affiliated with a denomination because we don’t have anything that has outwardly shown that relationship. That decision has been intentional since 2005. It has never been our intention to make members of our church or to ask people to make a commitment to a denomination. One of our convictions is discipleship. The second half of our mission statement is to equip believers to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. Ultimately, we want people to make a commitment to King Jesus. Membership in our church is important to us, but it isn’t the goal.


We are seeking to make long-term decisions about the future of our church. We don’t need to hurry through this. We are playing the long game. At some time in the future, we may make the decision to become independent. We are writing our bylaws to give us that freedom. Being an independent church is a completely different polity or governance than we’ve ever had. I don’t have any experience in it, and neither does the majority of our Church Council members.


One of the temptations of becoming an independent church is that the church becomes independent – the church becomes an island. We simply don’t see that anywhere in the New Testament. If anything, the early church in connectional relationship with one another. We see Paul taking up an offering for the poor in 2 Corinthians 8, they could serve more poor people as a group of churches than independently. In Philippians 4, Paul writes about how the church supported him as he was starting churches in other cities – they could read more people with the Gospel together than independently. The expansion of the early church happened because they were in it together. If we make the decision to move to be independent, we will need to protect ourselves from isolation.


Therefore, Church Council will be recommending to our church to join the newly formed Global Methodist Church. You may be wondering why Methodist and not Baptist or Presbyterian or Lutheran or some other denomination. Since our founding as a church, we have sought to be evangelical and Wesleyan in our theology. Our eight essential beliefs are clearly founded on Wesleyan theology. An important part of the decision to recommend joining the Global Methodist Church is accountability to a common theological tradition. The mission of the Global Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly.

Will Charter Oak Church be looking to bring a Saturday night service back to the Frye Farm Campus?

We have not discerned God leading that way at this time.

What is Charter Oak Church’s vision for the future when we have finally put all of this denomination stuff behind us?

We have a long-term vision of reaching all of Westmoreland County with the Gospel by planting campuses all over the county. It is our goal to plant three more campuses in the next five years. We will continue to disciple our kids, students, and adults to be fully devoted followers of Jesus who take ownership of our faith by engaging in the six marks of discipleship.


Please join us at one of our campuses for our next Family Meetings on April 23 or May 21. You can also submit a question to Pastor Chris’ assistant, Ty Holler – to be included in this FAQs page.

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