The Ohio churches are part of thousands of former UMC congregations that have left the official denomination, according to The Christian Post.
The 96 churches were granted their request to disaffiliate from the mainline Protestant denomination at a special session of the UMC West Ohio Conference in late October.
“We were empowered to make some challenging decisions,” said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer in a statement. “We brought glory to God by the patient, honest, and respectful way we engaged one another. In spite of the challenges we have come through, our future is open because God is able.”
Previously, in June, the West Ohio Conference approved allowing 172 congregations to disaffiliate from the UMC. About 80 congregations in the Ohio conference left the UMC last year. The Ohio conference is now estimated to have some 600-member congregations.
“Our calling is to serve this present age, even if there’s a storm … while passing over. One of our storms is disaffiliation,” Palmer said in June.
“That’s not a blame thing; it’s just how it is. It’s in the book. We’ve given a lot of attention to it. Let me be clear. It is not our mission. We gave attention to it. We’ll finish up what there is to be finished up.”
Across the UMC, more than 6,600 congregations have voted to disaffiliate from the UMC as the debate continues over whether to change the denomination’s rules that allow for the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy who are in same-sex relationships.
The UMC Book of Discipline still does not allow those decisions, but some methodist leaders have not enforced the rules, leaving conservative churches to decide to leave the UMC.
Many have joined with the Global Methodist Church, a more conservative UMC affiliation.
GMC says it has some 3,200 congregations among its membership.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.
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