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Churches Fight to Leave the United Methodist Church

December 5th, 2023

A student at a public community college in New Jersey was recently suspended after quoting the Bible, and now he has filed a lawsuit.
There is a fierce debate in many religious communities about LGBTQ issues, and the United Methodist Church is certainly no exception.

There is a fierce debate in many religious communities about LGBTQ issues, and the United Methodist Church (UMC) is certainly no exception. Due to the unique legal structure of the UMC, this debate is triggering a serious fracture within the church – one that is causing many individual congregations to leave. The process of leaving the United Methodist Church is clearly defined in The Book of Discipline – and the specific wording of this religious text now finds itself under a microscope within the US courts. The end result? Many congregations are finding it difficult to leave the church. 

Why are Congregations Trying to Leave the United Methodist Church?

The United Methodist Church boasts some of the highest numbers of any individual religious sect in the entire nation – but it faces the prospect of losing many of its followers due to controversy surrounding LGBTQ issues. Specifically, many Methodists are divided over the concept of having clergy that identify as LGBTQ. In addition, some are concerned about the church’s stance on same-sex marriage. This controversy has been brewing for almost a decade now, and many say that it began with the consecration of openly gay Bishop Karen Oliveto in 2016. The Book of Discipline specifically bans LGBTQ people from ordination. 

The General Conference – the church’s governing body – is seemingly going against its own teachings by allowing these developments to continue. Some say that this is a step in the right direction for the church – one that reflects an evolving world with changing values. Others say that it completely goes against everything that they believe in as a Christian and a Methodist. The issue has proven too serious to resolve for many congregations, and this is why many are leaving the church altogether. 

Why Congregations are Struggling to Leave the UMC

In 2019, the General Conference seemingly created a legal pathway for congregations to leave the United Methodist Church. However, several steps must be taken first. A congregation can only leave after a two-thirds vote and must essentially pay the UMC a fee before parting ways. Finally, congregations only have until December 2023 to finalize this process and leave the church. 

On November 15, 2023, it was reported that after complaining that this “disaffiliation process” was unfair, 42 congregations in Alabama and Florida had been rebuked by the Montgomery County Circuit Court. The court ruled that it did not have the legal authority to determine whether or not the process was fair. The 42 congregations argued that the UMC was intentionally delaying the process – knowing that any effort to disaffiliate would fail by the December deadline. 

The Universal Life Church Respects People from All Walks of Life

The Universal Life Church (ULC) respects people from all different walks of life. Although the situation surrounding the United Methodist Church is certainly troubling, a debate of this nature would be unlikely to occur within the ULC due to its inclusive, accepting nature. To learn more about the Universal Life Church, do not hesitate to reach out. 

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