Granger Community Church
A view of the Granger, Ind., campus of Granger Community Church, which has left The United Methodist Church. It has been one of the denomination’s largest and best-attended churches, but leaders wanted to control who would be the next pastor. (Photo courtesy of Granger Community Church.)

Indiana Megachurch Leaves Denomination



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Keeping the Keys to their little Kingdom

Unfortunately, founding pastors of megachurches may be difficult to dislodge after a third of a century. And be willing to let go of their little kingdom that they built from scratch. Their perceived loyalty to or "ownership" of their flock may Trump (sorry, bad choice of words!) their loyalty to UM polity, their annual conference, and their episcopal leadership.
Even after their retirement, they may prefer to stick around in "emeritus" status.
This is not solely a right-wing 'evangelical' phenomenon, as witnessed by Rev. Cecil Williams at Glide UMC, who's still there in a wheelchair. And leading an unwise rebellion against the unwise leadership of Bishop Minerva Carcaño that's devolved into a legal standoff.
I don't know Rev. Mark Beeson or his congregational leadership, but the congregation's departure has left unresolved the question of his loyalties and leadership in providing for a succession plan upon his retirement that appropriately allows his bishop and annual conference to appoint a successor, rather than 'grooming' an internally promoted lead pastor who lacks UM credentialing.
From the perspective of the brother/sisterhood of UM clergy, there are just two words for this situation. IT STINKS!
Not to mention a failure to pay apportionments, etc., etc.

Wayne more than 1 year ago

There's More To This Story

There's more to this story that we're not being told.

The story states that the church leadership wanted more/all control over the appointment/calling of clergy.

ACs and big churches have been ignoring black letter church law on appointments for decades.

Inquiring minds want to know more.

Richard F Hicks more than 1 year ago

They got to keep their buildings for free!

Just follow the money!
Even though the Trust Clause holds the church properties in trust for the Annual Conference, Granger Community Church was required to pay only their pension obligations and two years of unpaid apportionments, plus a big fat ZERO for their two large campuses. There may be outstanding debt on these properties. But they should be worth something, even in age of Covid-19 when they are now basically unusable for the purposes for which they were designed.

Wayne more than 1 year ago

But did the AC really want the property?

How long will it take for another new church plant in that same area to grow to the current size of Granger? Is there another congregation of that size (of any affiliation) looking for a church campus of that size and configuration? These properties are often white elephants to annual conferences, so it's more than understandable that the AC negotiated as they did. Trace back the history of the trust clause, and you'll see that its purpose was to protect the integrity of the theology preached from the pulpit in the local church... not to hold the local church hostage to the annual conference. Certainly Granger sought far more than input in the appointment process, but their theology has been well within the pale of Wesleyan orthodoxy (if not in terms of polity).

John more than 1 year ago