A 14,000-member Texas megachurch announced its departure from the United Methodist Church this week due to the denomination’s debate on same-sex issues.
On Sunday afternoon, The Woodlands Methodist Church voted to disaffiliate from the UMC after over 3,000 members cast ballots upon completing the discernment process. According to the church’s website, 2,678 members – or 96.3 percent of voting members – voted to disaffiliate from the mainline Methodist denomination.
Harper Pearson, Company, PC, of Houston, a Texas-based independent accounting firm, collected, counted and certified the ballots during Sunday’s vote.
“I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude for each one of you – for your faithfulness and for your bold support of our ministry together here at The Woodlands Methodist Church. So, thank you for showing up today. Thank you for filling our worship spaces. And thank you for casting a ballot,” Senior Pastor Mark Sorensen said in a statement following the vote.
“Our congregational vote was a success because of your involvement and your support of our shared mission to win people to Jesus Christ, disciple them in faith, and help those in need,” he continued.
“For us, disaffiliation was just the first step in a multi-step process that includes discernment and then future affiliation. With this vote behind us, we are truly able to move forward in faith. I couldn’t be more excited or expectant for our next season of ministry together,” he concluded.
According to UM News, Faithbridge, a 1,300-member church in Spring, Texas, also voted to disaffiliate from the UMC on Sunday after 549 members voted to leave.
“I’m … realistic about where the denomination is heading, and so I have no second thoughts,” Faithbridge Senior Pastor Ken Werlein said. “We’ve done the right thing, the smart thing, the wise thing to keep Faithbridge, Faithbridge.”
Later this year, UMC Texas Annual Conference will host a special session on Dec. 3, which will recognize the departure of churches that have completed the steps of disaffiliation. As of late July, over 210 Texas congregations have considered disaffiliating from the UMC, The Christian Post reports.
In recent months, Methodist churches in several states have announced their departure from the UMC due to its debate on same-sex marriage and gay clergy. Further, some congregations have joined the newly launched conservative Global Methodist Church.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.