Thursday, March 09, 2023

Mega Church Leaves UMC Over Homosexuality

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St. Andrew Methodist Church, a megachurch in Texas, has voted to leave or "disaffiliate" from the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States. 

The reason? Homosexuality.

The vote? 98.6%.

And, 41 more Texas churches are leaving the United Methodist Church for the same reason:


Hundreds and hundreds of Methodist Churches are saying "no" to revising Scripture regarding human sexuality.

Be informed, not misled.

A time to choose.

A megachurch in Texas has held a vote, with members voting overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States. 

St. Andrew Methodist Church of Plano held a congregational vote last week in which 98.6% of those present voted in favor of disaffiliation from the UMC. 

St. Andrew leadership says that after announcing the initial plan to leave the UMC, the congregation "engaged in meaningful and productive conversations" with regional UMC leadership "to finalize terms of our disaffiliation."

"St. Andrew will remain an independent Methodist church for some period and will not be affiliating with any existing Methodist denominations," a statement from the church reads. "St. Andrew is exploring new affiliations with other mission-focused Methodist and Wesleyan churches, both large and small, to grow the Kingdom of God."

The United Methodist Church lost over 1,800 congregations in 2022, mainly due to the denomination's ongoing division over homosexuality, according to a recent report.

Church disaffiliation data recently compiled by UM News shows a cumulative total of 1,825 congregations had their disaffiliation votes approved by their respective conferences last year.

This includes 308 churches granted disaffiliation during the regular process in 2022, plus 1,517 granted disaffiliation during special sessions held last year by various regional bodies.

Factoring in churches granted disaffiliation since 2019, the total number of churches that have left the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States goes up to 2,003. 

The issue is homosexuality--blessing what God condemns.

For example, last November, the UMC Western Jurisdiction voted to make the Rev. Cedrick D. Bridgeforth of the California-Pacific Conference a bishop, even though he is in a same-sex marriage.

Frustrations over the debate led many conservatives to conclude that it would be better to form their own Methodist denomination or become nondenominational.

Last year, the "Global Methodist Church" officially launched as a theologically conservative alternative to the mainline Protestant UMC.  

While most of the departing congregations have opted to join the GMC, some, including the megachurch White's Chapel of Southlake, Texas, have become nondenominational.

Here's their problem:

Although the UMC officially labels homosexuality a sin and does not allow same-sex weddings, many progressive leaders within the denomination have refused to enforce the rules. This has prompted the great departure from the denomination.

Many congregations are leaving the mainline Protestant denomination, with most deciding to join the more theologically conservative Global Methodist Church.

An Alabama megachurch has voted to leave the United Methodist Church due to concerns over the apparent theological direction of the mainline Protestant denomination.

Covenant United Methodist Church of Dothan, Alabama, which has approximately 2,600 members, voted last week to seek disaffiliation from the UMC.

Covenant UMC Pastor Kyle Gatlin says that major factors for wanting to leave included “the direction we saw the denomination was headed,” theologically.

This included how some bishops were refusing to enforce the UMC Book of Discipline’s rules prohibiting the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions.

The Book of Disciplines says in part:

While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.

"Self-avowed practicing homosexual" is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual."

As I see this issue tearing the fabric of the second-largest Protestant Church denomination in America, the question is not really about homosexuality---it's about what the Bible says about homosexuality.

One part of the church wants to follow biblical teaching---the other part wants to revise or cancel God's Word.

What to do with God's Word.

I'm reminded of an incident recorded in the writings of Jeremiah the prophet in chapter 36.

Juda had been in spiritual decline for hundreds of years. They were worshipping other gods along with the true and living God.

God had been patient with His people.

Jeremiah came on the scene about 627 BC, and began writing and preaching the Word of the Lord.

God continued to show His people His grace.

Chapter 36 includes the story of a very wrong response to the Word of God.

Baruch, the son of Neriah, Jeremiah's scribe, put Jeremiah's prophecies into writing. He even read them to the Judahites when the officials banned the so-called troublemaker, Jeremiah, from speaking the Word of the Lord publicly.  

Jeremiah's prophecies, the Word of the Lord, finally caught the attention of some officials and ultimately were read before King Jehoiakim. 

Sitting by his fireplace Jehoiakim began to hear the Word of the Lord---which he found very troubling. As the pages were read the king would cut out the page he disagreed with and toss it in the fire.

This continued until the scrolls had been burned because the king had a different view than God.

This is a mirror image of some churches today. They are bent on revising, rewriting, or simply discarding the Word of the Lord.

President Biden is an example of such a person. So is a segment of the United Methodist Church.

The things of the Bible they disagree with are ripped out and burned.

Jehoiakim actually tried to destroy the Word of the Lord---and he would not be the last.

In this biblical account, Jeremiah the Prophet rewrote the inspired Word of the Lord---so God's Word was preserved, not lost.

The Word of God was the foundation of Wesley's Methodist Church. That will not be lost. 

The churches that have chosen to disaffiliate with the liberal, so-called progressive message will continue to impact the world with their mission to preach the gospel to every creature. 

Those churches who choose to cut out the pages with which they disagree will enter a time of slow but sure decline and irrelevance.

Bottom line: God is in control. His Word will not pass away.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.