More Methodists Leave UMC Over Liberal Theology, LGBTQ Issues

More Methodists Leave UMC Over Liberal Theology, LGBTQ Issues

The United Methodist denomination (UMC), torn by liberal theological drift and an increasing acceptance of LGBTQ-affirming churches, continues to lose waves of conservative congregations.

On April 22, the Holston Annual Conference, a regional UMC body that covers East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia, approved the disaffiliation of 264 congregations—about one-third of its body—that sought to leave the UMC over theological and policy differences.

The same day, the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church approved the disaffiliation of 55 of its churches that sought to leave the group for similar reasons—a loss of about 10% of its churches.

Many of these churches have joined or are considering membership in the conservative Global Methodist Church (GMC), which includes a strong base of African Methodists, who tend to be conservative on the nature of Scripture and human sexuality.

One Oklahoma pastor, Dan Pulver of First United Methodist Church in Bixby, told The Christian Post that 87% of his congregation voted to depart the UMC.

“We are currently planning to remain independent until after the Global Methodist Church has its initial General Conference session, and we will then see what the official denomination will resemble,” Pulver told the Post.

Around 2,300 churches have disaffiliated from the UMC since 2019, when the denomination implemented a policy allowing congregations to retain their property while separating from the denomination.

Writing in the journal First Things, John Lomperis, a conservative Methodist leader, summed up the Methodist rift this way.

“It is widely agreed that our denomination’s high-profile sexuality debates reflect deeper disagreements over such matters as Biblical authority, the mission of the church and who Jesus Christ is,” Lomperis said.

He added that while UMC liberals claim to want unity with conservatives, they really want conservatives to acquiesce.

“When push comes to shove, [liberals] have increasingly made clear that this ‘place’ involves (1) keeping our money in the denomination, (2) never promoting Biblical beliefs on sexuality within the denomination, and (3) hopefully eventually abandoning theological orthodoxy.”

The United Methodist Church is still the largest mainline Protestant body in the United States, which at last count, in 2020, was 6.2 million members. The divide among Methodists isn’t the only such split among Christian groups. Similarly, the Episcopal Church has seen departures of churches joining more conservative Anglican fellowships over liberal theological drift and acceptance of LGBTQ ideology.

As liberal denominations continue headlong into a post-Biblical future, the number of adherents to Christianity in the U.S. and Western Europe continues declining. Meanwhile, numerous studies show Christianity growing in Africa, Asia and Latin America among churches with conservative theology.


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