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The Blaze
The Blaze
16 Dec 2023

NextImg:Thousands of Methodist congregations leave the denomination over LGBTQ issue | Blaze Media

The United Methodist Church is currently in the process of splintering, as 7,000 congregations across the country have decided whether or not to stay or depart from the denomination.

The intra-church dispute comes as many congregations have decided to back out of the denomination after years of theological debate about the role of LGBTQ people within the church, according to the Associated Press.

While the United Methodist Church has banned same-sex marriage and outlawed openly LGBTQ clergy, many congregations within the denomination have theologically taken issue with this position. Amid the battle within the denomination, a number of conservatives have decided to create the Global Methodist Church.

Theologically progressive Christians who decided to stay with the United Methodist Church are expected to try and remove the ban at the next General Conference, which is scheduled for the spring of 2024.

The Aiken Standard reported that departures started in 2019, but they really ramped up this year during regular and special meetings that took place within the denomination.

The church has not really taken action against the congregations that have allowed the consecration of LGBTQ clergy or same-sex marriages. This has led to conservative-leaning congregations deciding to get out of the denomination.

Bishop Karen Oliveto, who is homosexual, said, "People aren't upset at those bishops who were closeted. It was okay for them to not tell the truth. But they're upset at me for living openly in love and joy?"

"How can we say no to love and joy as a church?"

While the Book of Disciplines "implore[s] families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends," Oliveto believes that element has started to crumble.

As a result of the fallout, many departing congregations have decided to join the Global Methodist Church — a primarily conservative Methodist movement. However, there are also those that have decided to remain independent following their departure from the United Methodist Church.

A report from the Public Religion Research Institute recently discovered that there has been an uptick in Americans who no longer are affiliated with any particular religion.

According to the report, those unaffiliated with any religion shot up to 27% in 2022, which is an 11% increase from 2006. A staggering 30% of those surveyed said that they decided to change their religious tradition or denomination because of the negative teachings about or treatment of those within the LGBTQ community.

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