More than 100 congregations in Pennsylvania have officially left the United Methodist Church over the ongoing debate over sexual ethics in the mainline Protestant denomination.
The Susquehanna Annual Conference met during a special session in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and approved the disaffiliation requests of 141 churches. With the departure of those churches, there are now 665 congregations in that UMC regional body, The Christian Post reports.
After the votes were taken, Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball addressed the gathering, calling this “a time of brokenness,” noting that “we are indeed different when we walk out these doors tonight than when we came in.”
“Whether or not you are part of a congregation that made a decision to disaffiliate or not, we are all part of God’s family,” said Ball. “And we need, in the midst of this time, to dedicate ourselves to being the repairers of the way.”
“To spend some time with one another, praying with one another, confessing to one another, forgiving each other. For just as the Lord forgave each one of us, in the same way, we are asked to forgive one another.”
According to the UMC Book of Discipline, the denomination prohibits the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of people in same-sex romantic relationships. The Book of Discipline also bans the funding of LGBT advocacy groups.
The Susquehanna Conference also recently made headlines in April. The Susquehanna Conference filed a lawsuit against Cortez Community Church of Jefferson Township, formerly known as Cortez United Methodist Church.
The church decided to leave the UMC in February, but the Susquehanna Conference said that the congregation did not follow the proper process for discernment for disaffiliation from the UMC.
The lawsuit says the church took control of church property, seized bank accounts, and changed the church signs to reflect its new name. A hearing for the case is scheduled for May 28.
So far, more than 3,000 congregations have officially left the UMC.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/deviousrlm
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.