The recent schism in the United Methodist Church has caused a fifth of its congregations to split away over the debate of the inclusion of LGBTQ matters into Christianity.
This is approximately 6,000 communities leaving the second-largest Protestant church in the United States. The disagreement is concerning traditional Protestant teaching which forbids gay relationships and marriages while some members and churches are opposing this biblical teaching.
Council of Bishops president Bishop Thomas Bickerton commented on this situation, “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.”
The majority of these 6,000 congregations plan on joining the Global Methodist Church, which will neither ordain or marry LGBTQ people – due to their belief that homosexuality is a sin and should not be accepted by Christian churches like the UMC.
Reverend Keith Boyette expressed his concern for those leaving as well as those staying part of UMC: “Theologically conservative local churches and annual conferences want to be free of divisive and destructive debates and to have the freedom to move forward together,” followed by, “We are confident many existing congregations will join the new Global Methodist Church in waves over the next few years, and new church plants will sprout up as faithful members exit the UM Church and coalesce into new congregations.”
Bishop Bickerton concluded with positivity towards both sides:
“It’s disappointing that some feel they can no longer remain in unity with us but we wish God’s blessings upon them as they seek another expression within Methodism”.
There are around 13 million members worldwide associated with this denomination. It stands firm on its values while respecting those who may choose differently because faith walks different paths for each individual believer.