The United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the nation, has granted permission to more than 6,000 congregations to split from the denomination over the past few years due to long-standing theological and LGBT-related issues, according to the Associated Press.
About 6,182 congregations, one-fifth of the U.S. total, have received approval to disassociate from the United Methodist Church since 2019, when the church endorsed an exit strategy for churches looking to leave the denomination because of disagreements over the church’s tolerance and/or endorsement of certain LGBT positions, according to the AP. Of the 6,182, some 4,172 have split from the denomination this year alone, according to the AP.
Many conservative churches have left as Methodist churches have routinely violated bans against the ordination or marriage of homosexuals.
Departures from the Protestant denomination have been focused in the South and Midwest, with states such as Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio each seeing hundreds of congregations disaffiliate, the AP reported.
The United Methodist Church has attempted to keep the congregations intact; however, many congregations have publicly said that same-sex marriage is incompatible with Christian teaching. A number of disaffiliated congregations have joined the Global Methodist Church, a new, more-conservative denomination founded in 2022 by people who left the United Methodist Church, while others resort to different denominations.
More left-wing Methodists have anticipated a proposal modifying the church law to permit same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT individuals at the following General Conference in 2024 as a result of these departures, the AP reported.
“I don’t think any of us want to see any of our churches leave. We’re called to be the body of Christ, we’re called to be unified. There’s never been a time when the church has not been without conflict, but there’s been a way we’ve worked through that,” he said.
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