More than 450 churches in Kentucky and Ohio have been approved to separate from the United Methodist Church, according to reports from The Christian Post.
The Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted June 4 to allow 286 congregations to leave the denomination, and the Western Ohio Conference approved the disaffiliation of 172 of its roughly 960 congregations. The churches are the latest of nearly 4,800 churches that have left the denomination since 2019, according to statistics compiled by UM News.
Churches are disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church largely over disagreements about LGBTQ issues. Although the UMC’s Book of Discipline states that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and that self-avowed, practicing homosexuals are not to be ordained or appointed to serve in the UMC, many denominational leaders have openly defied those rules.
Although the denomination was set to hammer out a resolution on LGBTQ issues at its 2020 General Conference, the Conference has been rescheduled three times, prompting theologically conservative congregations to begin leaving the UMC rather than wait until 2024 to see what the denomination decides.
Conservative Methodists in countries besides the United States are considering their options going forward as well. According to an article published by the Wesleyan Covenant Association, participants from Slovakia, Germany, Romania, North Macedonia, Serbia, USA, Congo, Estonia and Croatia attended a recent meeting in Crikvenica, Croatia, to form connections and share thoughts about the future. Last year, the Bulgaria-Romania Conference voted to leave the UMC and join the Global Methodist Church (GMC), a theologically conservative group that formed in 2022.
Many of the U.S. churches that have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church are joining the GMC as well. That group’s website says, “The Global Methodist Church is committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, and the work of the Holy Spirit in conveying God’s truth and grace to all people.”
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