1 Million-Member Regional Body Leaves United Methodist Church Over Same-Sex Marriage, Clergy

A regional body of the United Methodist Church (UMC) with approximately 1 million members has voted to leave the mainline denomination over its acceptance of same-sex marriage and noncelibate homosexual clergy. The Côte d’Ivoire Conference based in West Africa has voted to leave the UMC after the denomination’s decision to remove rules banning the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of people in romantic same-sex relationships from its Book of Discipline. With approximately a million members, the conference was one of the largest regional bodies within the worldwide denomination, according to United Methodist News. The approved decision argues that “the new United Methodist Church has preferred to sacrifice its honourability and integrity to honour the LGBT” and that “the new United Methodist Church is now based on sociocultural and contextual values which have consumed its doctrinal and disciplinary integrity.”

Mark Tooley, president of the theologically conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, which monitors developments within the UMC, told The Christian Post it’s “wonderful that Ivory Coast Methodists are prioritizing orthodoxy over ties to the USA church.” Tooley said the conference was “independent before 2004 and may prefer that status” instead of joining the recently launched conservative denomination, the Global Methodist Church. “Most Africans cannot abide liberalized USA standards,” said Tooley on the possibility of more Africa-based conferences disaffiliating from the UMC. But he noted that “it will take years” for more to leave. The Christian Post contacted The United Methodist Church for comment on this story. A spokesperson did not return a message by press time. Over the past few decades, the UMC had been embroiled in a divisive debate over whether to remove language from its Book of Discipline that prohibited the blessing of gay unions, the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals, and the funding of LGBT advocacy groups.

In response to the never-ending debate and many liberal leaders within the UMC refusing to follow or enforce the rules, around 7,500 mostly conservative congregations disaffiliated from the denomination over the last few years. Most of these departing congregations opted to affiliate with the Global Methodist Church, a theologically conservative alternative to the UMC launched in 2022. At the UMC General Conference earlier this year, delegates overwhelmingly voted to remove the Book of Discipline Language, opening the door for the acceptance of same-sex marriage, and ordaining of clergy in homosexual unions. At the same General Conference, delegates voted to approve the departure of the UMC Eurasian Episcopal Area, which has four annual conferences in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Bishop Eduard Khegay of the Eurasia Episcopal Area expressed his gratitude for the denomination, saying he became a Christian “because of The United Methodist Church” Khegay said. “My hope is we can keep the friendships and relationships whenever it’s possible.”

Source: Christian Post

Print This Post Print This Post

Comments are closed