United Methodists Lose One-Fourth of their Churches in the ‘Largest Denominational Divide’ Since Civil War

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Dec 20, 2023
United Methodists Lose One-Fourth of their Churches in the ‘Largest Denominational Divide’ Since Civil War

United Methodists Lose One-Fourth of their Churches in the ‘Largest Denominational Divide’ Since Civil War

Roughly one-fourth of the United Methodist churches in the United States have left the denomination since 2019 over disagreements about the body’s stance on LGBT issues, according to a tally by United Methodist News that is close to final now that the window allowing for such departures is nearly closed. 

All total, 7660 churches have voted to leave, including 5,643 this year alone, according to United Methodist News. 

Congregations have until Dec. 31 to make a decision. The majority of departed churches are conservative ones that are troubled by the denomination’s leftward drift. 

Christianity Today labeled it the “largest denominational divide in the United States since the Civil War.”

Many of the churches are joining the Global Methodist Church, a new denomination launched in May of last year by conservative Methodists. Its convening General Conference is scheduled for Sept. 20-16 2024 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

“While the convening Conference will make many decisions, it is anticipated the GM Church will have to hold another General Conference in 2026 to deal with matters not addressed in 2024,” said Cara Nicklas, the chairwoman for the Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council. “As Methodists, we want to be deliberate and methodical as we move forward; we don’t want to rush ourselves into making hasty decisions. We also want to leave space for those we know will be joining us in the not-too-distant future. In the long run, we anticipate holding General Conferences every six years.”

The Global Methodist Church’s Book Of Doctrines And Discipline defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“We believe that human sexuality is a gift of God that is to be affirmed as it is exercised within the legal and spiritual covenant of a loving and monogamous marriage between one man and one woman,” the book says. 

On sexuality and gender, the book says, “While affirming a scriptural view of sexuality and gender, we welcome all to experience the redemptive grace of Jesus and are committed to being a safe place of refuge, hospitality, and healing for any who may have experienced brokenness in their sexual lives (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20).”  

Photo Courtesy: Teddy Osterblom/Unsplash


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.



United Methodists Lose One-Fourth of their Churches in the ‘Largest Denominational Divide’ Since Civil War