United Methodist Church loses more than 1,800 congregations over LGBTQ debate, “not a real schism”

Thursday, January 26, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags:

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – America’s United Methodist Church has now lost over 1,800 congregations as conservative churches have disaffiliated with the denomination over UMC acceptance of same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy, Christianity Today (CT) reports. Nevertheless, analysts have said the rate of disaffiliation does not represent a major schism and the denomination is expected to survive.

In 2019, the UMC approved an exit plan for churches that wanted to leave over the homosexuality issue: those congregations are allowed to keep their properties with them after making certain payments. Many of the disaffiliated churches have joined a new conservative denomination known as the Global Methodist Church.

According to the UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration, 1,831 congregations out of 30,000 nationwide have now been allowed to disaffiliate since 2019, CT said. This constitutes a loss of 6.1% of UMC congregations, a figure which some believe is not a true schism.

“You think of a schism as 50 percent or even 35 percent (split),” Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, told Christianity Today. “This is not a real schism.”

In a separate statement to CT, Hope Morgan Ward, retired bishop of the UMC North Carolina conference said: “Some are leaving but the number of churches and members moving forward is far larger. It is important to focus on who is staying and moving forward in the continuing United Methodist Church.”

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