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439 Texas Churches Exit the UMC due to Homosexuality Debate

Milton Quintanilla | Contributor for | Wednesday, December 7, 2022
439 Texas Churches Exit the UMC due to Homosexuality Debate

439 Texas Churches Exit the UMC due to Homosexuality Debate

Over the weekend, more than 400 Texas-based churches voted to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church due to the denomination's ongoing schism on homosexuality.

As reported by The Christian Post, 294 of the 598 churches belonging to the Central Texas Conference in Houston and 145 of the 201 churches belonging to the Northwest Texas Conference in Lubbock were granted approval to leave the UMC.

The outgoing churches make up nearly half of all UMC congregations in Texas, adding to a growing number of churches across the nation that have also departed from the mainline denomination.

Most of the departing congregations plan to join the newly launched Global Methodist Church, a theologically conservative denomination.

The departures come in light of an ongoing divide between theological conservatives and progressives within the UMC regarding the blessing of same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay clergy. Both practices are prohibited in the denomination's Book of Discipline.

Furthermore, conservatives have expressed frustrations at liberals for refusing to uphold the church's official stance. As Christian Headlines previously reported, a UMC bishop filed a complaint against a regional body's leadership after electing openly gay bishops, including one last month.

Mark Tooley, who leads the theologically conservative Institute on Religion & Democracy, noted in a recent article that over 1,300 churches have left the UMC in recent months.

"By the end of next year (the deadline for exiting with church property), at least 3,000 and possibly 5,000 churches are expected to exit," he wrote the day before the Texas congregations voted to disaffiliate from the UMC.

"Denominational agencies are preparing for a 38 percent drop in funding for 2025-2028, which implies an approximate expected membership loss of 2.3 million members from the nearly 6.3 million the denomination had in the United States in 2020. That is not a minor exodus," he added.

Senior pastor of St. Stephen's United Methodist Church of Houston, the Rev. Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe, contended that the schism within the UMC reflects the overall division in the United States.

"It parallels this moment in the broader world," Bledsoe, whose church will remain with the UMC, told the Texas Tribune. "It's a hard time to bring people together. We really reflect the brokenness of the culture and the world."

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Ehrlif

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.