In response to the ongoing controversy within the mainline Protestant organization regarding its stance on homosexuality, another 41 congregations in Texas have formally withdrawn their membership from The United Methodist Church.
Leaving The United Methodist Church
According to the Christian Post, a special called session of the United Methodist Church in North Texas Annual Conference was conducted on Saturday. During the session, clergy and lay members of the conference decided to approve the disaffiliation votes of 41 congregations that had previously been a part of the regional body. The regional organization “releases these congregations with its full support,” according to a statement provided to The Christian Post by a conference spokesperson. The information also added that no churches that were attempting to leave the United Methodist Church were denied dismissal.
The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline states that the denomination views homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” As a result, it does not permit the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of noncelibate homosexual clergy. In addition, it prohibits the acceptance of same-sex marriages. For the last few years, the United Methodist Church has been mired in a heated discussion regarding whether or not to change its official attitude. Many progressive leaders within the church have flat-out refused to adhere to the regulations throughout this time.
Moreover, NBCDFW reported that delegates gathered to approve the withdrawal of dozens of local churches from the denomination, and attendees displayed a range of emotions, including grief, frustration, and relief. Yet, many deny that they left because of LGBTQ inclusiveness. Instead, they refer to a range of disagreements with the larger church, ranging from money to theology.
In addition, local congregations who choose to quit the United Methodist Church over disagreements with policies established in 2019 relating to the inclusion of LGBTQ people have until the end of 2023 to keep their properties.
Also Read: Texas Megachurch Disaffiliates with United Methodist Church Amid LGBT Debate
Churches Seek Approval to Leave the United Methodist Church
As per The Dallas Morning News, in 2022, two regional organizations with headquarters in Houston and Lubbock would hold specially called sessions to discuss and authorize the disaffiliation of more than 400 congregations.
After a controversial stance against same-sex marriages and LGBTQ clergy members was reaffirmed by a narrow majority in 2019, congregations nationwide are pursuing disaffiliation through a lengthy process. Although the two conferences do not encompass the Dallas-Fort Worth area, up to 439 Texas congregations and their properties may be granted permission to leave the denomination.
A representative for the Northwest Conference confirmed that more than half of its roughly 200 churches are requesting official disaffiliation. 294 of the 598 Texas Conference churches seek the same approval. In September, a special session of the Central Texas Conference, which includes Fort Worth, approved the disaffiliation of 81 churches. There are 185 congregations in the conference, and at least two more have decided to depart.
Although 54 congregations have begun the process, just six have taken a vote and received the required two-thirds vote to withdraw. As of Nov. 2, ten others elected to remain with the UMC before the ballot. White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, a member of the Central Texas Conference, recently opted to move forward with the disaffiliation process. In October, St. Andrew United Methodist, a Plano megachurch affiliated with the North Texas Conference, also declared its intention to withdraw from the denomination.
Related Article: Christ Church Memphis and Other Churches Leave The United Methodist Church Over Homosexuality Issue