More than 170 congregations in Ohio have departed from the United Methodist Church over the weekend in light of an ongoing debate over same-sex issues.
Last weekend the Western Ohio Conference of the UMC voted to approve the disaffiliation of 172 out of 960 congregations from the 2023 West Ohio Annual Conference.
"Our calling is to serve this present age, even if there's a storm … in the midst of passing over. One of our storms is disaffiliation," Bishop Gregory V. Palmer said in a statement, according to The Christian Post.
"That's not a blame thing; it's just the way it is. It's in the book. We've given a lot of attention to it. Let me be clear. It is not our mission. We gave attention to it. We'll finish up what there is to be finished up. But it is not Jesus' mission. It's not the mission of The United Methodist Church. It's not Greg Palmer's mission, and it's not your mission. We've got one mission: Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. "
During a special session earlier this year, about 80 congregations departed from the conference.
"I bid the 172 churches that have departed our communion the best," Palmer said. "My focus will continue to be on a vibrant future for the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church and its more than 700 churches."
In recent years, United Methodist churches have departed from the mainline denomination over an ongoing debate over homosexuality, such as the blessing of same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. The UMC's Book of Discipline, however, prohibits both practices.
Many of those departing congregations have since joined the theologically conservative Global Methodist Church, which launched last year in response to the debate.
According to UM News, about 4,359 congregations across the United States have departed from the UMC since 2019, most of which occurred in the past year.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Erica Shires
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.