Seth Udinski, FISM News
The United Methodist Church has been marching down a one-way path to an inevitable fracture for the last several years, ever since the denomination voted to uphold the biblical doctrine of marriage in 2019.
The next UMC general conference, originally scheduled for 2020, is expected to officially divide the denomination between conservatives who uphold biblical teaching on marriage and progressives who want to abandon it. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, the denomination has not split because the General Conference has not met since that fateful 2019 session. The next meeting was pushed back to 2021, then to 2022, and now UMC authorities believe it could be pushed back even further.
In the last several days, a group of UMC members issued a call asking for churches to leave the denomination before the likely split at the General Conference. In a petition titled “A Call to Grace,” the members declared:
As the writer of Ecclesiastes notes, “For everything there is a season,” and the season for waiting on General Conference legislative solutions as the only way forward has passed. We recognize that continued delay in making decisions about the future of The United Methodist Church hurts our mission and is especially harmful to our central conference and LGBTQIA+ siblings who are caught up in this conflict.
Over 1000 UMC members, elders, and pastors have signed the petition to date.
The language of this petition indicates that progressive churches are spearheading this cry to leave the denomination. Conservatives have already begun the departure as well, as FISM News previously reported, with the upcoming formation of a new conservative-based Methodist network of churches.
It appears that the longer the denomination delays the next General Conference, the more churches will exit and the smaller the size of the next General Conference.
The fate of the UMC is unclear. What is clear now is that there are serious divisions within the denomination, and it appears the question of biblical faithfulness is the reason.