New more conservative denomination announces split from United Methodist Church over LGTBQ rights
The Global Methodist Church on Thursday announced that it would officially launch on May 1, kickstarting what the church described as a “new, theologically conservative Methodist denomination.”
The launch of the new denomination marks the latest step in the split of the United Methodist Church following years of debate over LGBTQ rights.
A plan for the division of the United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the U.S., was agreed to by leading United Methodist Church bishops and leaders of centrist, progressive and conservative groups in 2019, per the announcement.
The agreement followed a warning issued by about 1,500 churches that year that they would break away from the United Methodist General Conference over a vote to drop official language banning same-sex marriage and ordaining LGBTQ clergy. Though the church voted against the change, the division proceeded.
The plan for the split, the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation,” was set to go to a vote at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in May 2020, the announcement noted, but the conference has been postponed three times due to issues related to the pandemic. The new denomination is proceeding with the launch outside the terms of the plan.
“Many United Methodists have grown impatient with a denomination clearly struggling to function effectively at the general church level,” Rev. Keith Boyette, chairman of the Transitional Leadership Council, which led the creation of the new denomination, and president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, said in a statement. “Theologically conservative local churches and annual conferences want to be free of divisive and destructive debates, and to have the freedom to move forward together.”
Boyette said the new denomination was ready to accept “waves” of churches.
“We are confident many existing congregations will join the new Global Methodist Church in waves over the next few years, and new church plants will sprout up as faithful members exit the UM Church and coalesce into new congregations,” the reverend said.