Maryland Church Needs $4 million To Keep Property
Maryland Church Needs $4 million To Keep Property: A Maryland congregation that decided to quit the United Methodist Church has only a few weeks to earn enough money to pay $4 million to maintain their church building or they will lose it.
Oakdale Church of Olney, which has been active for over 200 years and has roughly 250 in-person attendance every week, opted to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church in March.
Oakdale Church must pay the UMC mission shares for the current year plus one year in advance, any unfunded pension liability, and 50% of the property’s assessed value as part of the disaffiliation procedure.
Oakdale Pastor Kevin Baker told The Christian Post that his congregation will have to pay over $4 million because their church’s tax assessment is at $7.9.
Baker slammed the 50% assessed value requirement, saying CP that the UMC Baltimore-Washington Conference is one of only three in the denomination that requires such a payment to depart.
“Oakdale Church leaders and others have repeatedly requested a meeting with the board of trustees for the BWC to talk and seek some negotiations, but the trustees have been unwilling to meet,” Baker said.
At present, according to their website, the church needs to have either $4 million “cash in hand” by Oct. 25 or $2 million “in hand” by Sept. 10 “with commitments for the other $2 million over the next 3 years.”
Baker also told CP that there is some doubt that his congregation will be able to raise sufficient funds in time, as “no lending institution was willing to lend us the $4 million needed without some additional funds in hand and/or a strong capital campaign.”
“With God’s help, we will see this great goal achieved either using our current building or from some other place,” said Baker. “Oakdale Church would very much like to remain in our current building since the members of the church have faithfully and sacrificially constructed, paid for and made their home here for centuries.”
“Disaffiliation is not our mission; serving the vision of making disciples and catalyzing a disciple-making movement is what God has called us to. We do not yet know whether God will provide what is needed to stay in this building.”
Baker added, “God is going to once again show himself faithful to supply the needs of His people as we love and serve Him sacrificially.”
“However, God’s faithfulness takes many forms, and sometimes the best answer is the one we least expected. Perhaps God has an entirely different campus for Oakdale Church that will better serve the mission we have received from Him,” Baker added.
“Perhaps God wants us to be without a building and to meet from house to house. Whatever God has for us is better than what we could plan for ourselves, and so we are praying, giving, waiting and praising.”
The Christian Post reached out to the UMC Baltimore-Washington Conference for this article, with a spokesperson directing CP to a link explaining the disaffiliation process.
The webpage led to an FAQ page on the BWC’s website, which explains that the regional body was within its rights to add to the requirements for disaffiliation, which in their case include “that half of the valuation of a church’s building be included in the cost of disaffiliation, and also creating an activity-based discernment process so that all those voting are fully aware of what they are undertaking.”
The United Methodist Church (UMC) has upheld its ability to add unique guidelines to its disaffiliation process, despite allegations that racism might be behind some disaffiliation.
The Judicial Council upheld the process established by the General Conference as minimum standards, which do not preclude additional procedures and standard terms created by annual conferences.
Baltimore-Washington Bishop LaTrelle Easterling dismissed Baker’s motion, stating the UMC policy allows the conference board of trustees to set the conference’s disaffiliation requirements.
In March, 38 congregations seeking to leave the UMC filed a lawsuit against the BWC, arguing that the conference’s standards for disaffiliation involved holding their church buildings and property hostage. Over 6,200 congregations have disaffiliated from the UMC since 2019, with over 4,000 doing so this year alone.