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This past weekend, 439 Texas churches had their votes to disaffiliate with the United Methodist Church (UMC) approved, as part of the ongoing schism between the denomination’s biblically believing and progressive churches.
The Houston-based Central Texas Conference approved the disaffiliation of 294 churches in its 598-church conference on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Northwest Texas Conference in Lubbock gave approval to all 145 churches that voted to leave the 200-church body. The Northwest Texas body is expected to no longer exist.
With the votes, 546 of 1,260 Methodist churches in Texas are leaving the UMC.
In total, 1,314 churches have been approved to disaffiliate from the denomination, and according to Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, that number is expected to grow between 3,000 to 5,000 of its 30,500 U.S. churches by the end of next year. These disaffiliations are part of a decades-old contention in the denomination between theologically conservative and liberal churches. The issue of the denomination’s tacit approval of LGBT activity and ordination is spurring the division.
Denomination rules prohibit the blessing of same-sex relationships but the UMC has refused to enforce the rule, even allowing practicing homosexuals to hold positions of leadership.
In January 2020, the UMC approved a plan to split into two separate denominations and establish a Traditionalist Methodist Church which would adhere to the bans on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT clergy established by the global conference of Methodists in 2019. That plan was supposed to be voted on at the UMC’s General Conference in 2020, but the UMC chose to delay the conference due to COVID-19 and has continued to do so, choosing to postpone until 2024.
After the decision to postpone, the newly formed Global Methodist Church (GMC), which opposes the pro-LGBT policies of UMC leadership, announced that it would launch ahead of schedule.
The GMC has been a favored option for many conservative churches leaving the UMC. Most of the Texas churches leaving the UMC will join the GMC. Tooley notes, however, that some of the largest churches leaving the UMC, are refraining from joining a new denomination.
White’s Chapel United Methodist Church outside of Dallas, which Tooley said is not particularly conservative, voted to leave the UMC. Of the 2,505 members who voted, 93 percent voted to disaffiliate with the UMC. White’s Chapel stated in a document regarding its plans, “We envision a new form of connectionalism, defined by shared ministry, equal accountability, and practical governance. Evangelical at its core and grace-filled in its practice, this partnership of autonomous Wesleyan churches will seek to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and to equip disciples for a life of faithful ministry.”
While it seeks to maintain Wesleyan theology and Methodist “rites and rituals,” it wants to eliminate denominational control of property and the appointment and ordination of clergy.
Tooley also noted St. Andrew United Methodist Church of Plano, Texas, with 6,500 members, which also voted to leave the UMC, changing its name to St. Andrew Methodist Church. Pastor Arthur Jones wrote that the church will not join a denomination in the short term.
Driving the split is the UMC’s refusal to adhere to biblical doctrine. The Bible is not ambiguous on the subject of homosexuality (Romans 1:27), clearly stating that it is an abomination before God. That doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t love people who are homosexual, but it does mean we don’t endorse it, and we don’t grant it the approval of the Church or allow practicing homosexuals to lead our churches–as we wouldn’t allow any unrepentant leaders to remain in ministerial office. The UMC abandoned the commands of Scripture long ago and is now led by human preferences. Perhaps no Scripture epitomizes the demise of the denomination more than Ephesians 4:11-16:
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Those in charge of the UMC have the responsibility to teach the saints the doctrine of God but instead have been carried about by the wind of humanist doctrine. What pro-LGBT advocates in the denomination miss is that their position is not of love, but falsehoods, falsehoods which will be to the harm of many. Churches leaving the UMC because of its disobedience to Scripture are refusing to be a part of a denomination which, rather than proclaim freedom to the captives, celebrates sin. If churches truly love those who are LGBT, they will teach them the truth.