The United Methodist Church
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
We are a federated congregation. Denominationally, we are both United Methodist and Presbyterian (U.S.A.). Since 1962, when the federation took place, we have been one congregation. Our bylaws reflect a 'melding together' of both denominational polities, the United Methodist Book of Discipline, and the Presbyterian Book of Order.
One of the most frequent questions asked of us is, How is it determined which denomination will provide the pastoral leadership? Given the fact that a United Methodist pastor is appointed by a bishop, and a Presbyterian pastor is called by the congregation, the solution is actually quite simple: each time there is a change in pastoral leadership, the other denomination provides the next pastor. In essence, we go back-and-forth.
For example, when our United Methodist pastor is appointed elsewhere, we turn to the Presbyerian Book of Order to guide us in the search process of securing our next pastor. Likewise, when our Presbyterian pastor answers a call to another church, we turn to our District Superintendant, who guides us through the appointive process. While it is not 'written in stone' that we do it this way, it has worked well for over 40 years.
On Being 'Methyterian' or 'Presbodist'
Another question often asked is, How do you make it work? Put simply, by meeting in the middle! Theologically, the UMC and the PCUSA are similar enough that this is not a sticking point. Our biggest differences lie in our governing polities. Through various revisions to our bylaws, we have tried to find a comfortable and workable middle. One clause in our church bylaws helps us in this matter, which we call the "shall-may clause." Basically, where one denomination says we "shall" do it a particular way while the other says we "may" do it a particual way, we go with the "shall." Generally, this has worked well, as both judicatories have given their approvals to our bylaws through the years.
When it comes to financially supporting the work and ministries of both denominations, this is where it gets split right down the middle. Half goes to cover our United Methodist apportionments, and half goes to our Presbyterian Per Capita offering.
A third question we often hear is, What do you do about church membership? Up until a few years ago, we kept two separate rolls. As people joined the church, they had a choice as to which denomination they wanted their name added to. Where they had no preference, their name was added to the roll that had the fewer members at that time. However, in recent years we decided to keep only one membership roll, which was membership in The Church of the Straits. Doing so gave us much more flexibility when it comes filling committee vacancies, as well as solving other issues. Again, this has proved to be a viable solution to bringing two churches together while maintaining a dual-denominational standing.
Just Like Everyone Else
All being said and done – and there is a lot that goes into making a federation work well – our church is just like any other. We share the same struggles and joys as any other Christian church. Though we are uniquely organized, we have the same purpose as any other church, Presbyterian, United Methodist, or otherwise. All we do is to gloryify God and make disciples of Jesus Christ. So whether you are simply visiting or permanently live in the area, we invite you to help us fulfill our purpose!