Hundreds of churches leave United Methodist Church within a week as widespread departure continues

by Jacob Fuller

Katie Kerekes, FISM News

The widespread departure of congregations leaving the United Methodist Church (UMC) amid the controversy over the biblical doctrine of gender and sexuality continues, with close to three hundred churches choosing disaffiliation just within the last week.

According to a report from the Christian Post, a Georgia-based regional body of the UMC has lost more than a third of the congregations that were once in affiliation, over the progressive theology permeating the denomination. In all, 193 of the reported 486 member congregations voted in favor of departure and received approval by a vote of the UMC South Georgia Conference Sunday.

The formal disaffiliation process requires churches to exercise discernment on theological issues, followed by a congregation-wide vote where over two-thirds of voters must be in favor of disaffiliation to “advance to the regional conference for ratification.”

These bodies are expected to join the Global Methodist Church, which, according to a previous report from FISM, is a theologically conservative “organization of churches that have universally chosen to leave the UMC in order to remain faithful to the biblical understanding of sexuality.”

The official UMC book of discipline prohibits the blessing of same-sex unions and ordination of people in same-sex relationships, yet many theological progressives have been refusing to follow or enforce the rules. Examples of this include clergy in the UMC Western Jurisdiction’s approval of a bishop ordination in the California-Pacific Conference who is in a same-sex marriage.

Following years of internal struggle within the United Methodist Church which has even led to legal battles, the controversy has culminated in the separation of the liberal and conservative factions. Statistics from UM News indicate that more than 3,500 congregations have left UMC in recent years, with over 1,800 of those departures occurring in 2022 alone.

On Saturday, 95 Louisiana congregations were approved for departure by UMC’s Louisiana Annual Conference and those disaffiliations will go into effect Wednesday.