The Emmanuel Church in Abilene has disaffiliated itself with the United Methodist Church because of changes in recent years and is now nondenominational.

The disaffiliate resulted via a process that officially began in November of 2019, according to a release.

 “The decision to disaffiliate from the UMC was not one that the congregation took lightly,” said Sr. Pastor Gordon McClure. “We spent several years in prayer, discernment and discussion before arriving at our decision to formally start the process of disaffiliation.  The leadership of the UMC was gracious and understanding throughout the process for which we are very grateful.  

“We simply came to a place where we felt that we could best achieve our vision for Emmanuel Church outside of the context of the UMC,” he said. “ We wish them well as we depart and look forward to what God has in store for us as we continue to commit ourselves to reaching people with the saving power of Jesus Christ.

“Emmanuel Church has a heart for our region and desires that people and families would experience the love, grace, worship, and truth of Jesus Christ,” McClure added.

Part of the process of disaffiliation included the establishment of a Transition Team which served from November 2019 through April 2020 working on governance, bylaws, and establishing Emmanuel Church as a not for profit entity.  In May of this year, leadership was given over to the new Church Board who will be the main decision and policy making leaders.  

The new governance provides for greater congregational input into critical decisions regarding the church, including the hiring of pastors, building projects, financial transactions, and matters of Church discipline.  The Pastoral Staff will largely be responsible for the spiritual leadership of the church family. 

Doug Thompson was named president of the Church Board.

“Emmanuel Church was formed 137 years ago. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us but we become part of the foundation for those who come after us,” Thompson said. “Those who came before us followed the Word of God and that is what our congregation will do.  Our God has not changed.  His Word is the same today as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow.  Others may choose for themselves whom they will serve, but for Emmanuel Church in Abilene, Kansas, we will serve the Lord”. 

According to the release, the Emmanuel Church puts emphasis on family, recognizing that today the term “family” can mean a great variety of combinations of family members.  So it is with the church.  

“It’s made up of people from all walks of life, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, and circumstances,” the release said. “ All people deserve a clear presentation of the Gospel and all deserve the love of Jesus who sees all people as having sacred worth.  Emmanuel Church remains committed to passionately serving the communities in our region and looks forward to sharing the love of Jesus in a variety of ways in the years ahead.  

Emmanuel Church’s beginnings date back to 1883 when a small gathering of people began a trajectory that has led to the current Emmanuel Church.  A significant point in Emmanuel’s history occurred in 1968 when Emmanuel, an Evangelical United Brethren Church, merged with the Methodist Church to become part of a new denomination which is today known as the United Methodist Church. 

Throughout Emmanuel’s history they’ve put great emphasis on evangelism and reaching out to the community.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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