About 83 churches in Iowa have left the United Methodist Church's Iowa Annual Conference in light of the denomination’s continued debate over homosexuality.
According to Christianity Daily, the departure represents 11 percent of the 750 conference churches across the state. During a Tuesday night Zoom meeting hosted by Bishop Kennetha Bigham-Tsai and other conference leaders, over 500 laypeople and clergypeople attended, with most of them approving the disaffiliation agreements for the departing churches.
As reported by the Des Moines Register, the settlements are a part of the UMC’s disaffiliation plan, which was first approved by the 2019 General Conference. The conference offers plans for churches to pay for two years' worth of apportionments and unfunded pension payments for clergy who have since retired.
The disaffiliation of the Iowa churches adds to the growing list of churches that have left the UMC over its longstanding debate on homosexuality, such as the blessing of same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. Despite the endorsement of progressive-leaning church leaders in the denomination, both practices are prohibited in the UMC’s Book of Discipline.
Last year, the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church finalized its decision to allow LGBT clergy to serve and for Methodist ministers to conduct same-sex weddings.
On the other hand, many theologically conservatives formed the Global Methodist Church last year in the wake of the longstanding debate. At the present, the new denomination includes the majority of the 3,755 nationally disaffiliated churches.
Earlier this month, 193 churches on behalf of the Georgia-based regional body of The United Methodist Church, were allowed to leave the denomination of the debate over homosexuality. Additionally over 100 congregations in Pennsylvania have also left the denomination for the same reason.
Meanwhile, a Texas UMC Megachurch disaffiliated from the denomination has now become the Methodist Collegiate Church, a denomination of one.
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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.