Earlier this year, representatives for the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States with more than 12 million members, voted to change the UMC’s “rules” to say that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” could not be ministers or get married in the church.
The UMC rewrote their rules in a way that demonized homosexuality. If the goal was to make the religion more welcoming to new members and young people, it was a remarkably short-sighted form of bigotry. At least earlier, there was room for debate over what Christian theology demanded on the subject.
It’s worth mentioning that many U.S. representatives opposed this change. They wanted an approach that allowed individual churches to decide whether to perform same-sex weddings and have gay ministers. But the representatives from other parts of the world voted for the anti-LGBTQ approach, tipping the scales in their favor.
Since that vote, there’s been a lot of conflict within many UMC churches over whether or not to keep their religious affiliation. Do they want to remain in a bigoted institution or would they rather go at it alone while maintaining an inclusive, welcoming spirit?
A church in Texas has made its decision. The Grace Fellowship UMC church in Katy voted a couple of weeks ago to leave the UMC… but not because they want to be open to LGBTQ members or leaders. It’s because there are too many UMC leaders still debating the issue of homosexuality, and the Texas church wants no part of a denomination that would even consider reaching out to openly gay people.
Jim Leggett, the founding pastor of Grace Fellowship, told The Christian Post in an interview Monday that his congregation wanted “to remove ourselves from the dysfunctional fighting going on in the United Methodist Church so that we can fully devote our energies to fulfilling the mission and vision that God has given to us.”
“At one point, we looked up and noticed that we were spending easily 30 percent of our leadership meeting time discussing the issues of the UMC, and we realized that this was not good stewardship of our time and resources for the Kingdom of God,” said Leggett.
“In the last year, it has become clear to us that despite having biblical standards of morality on paper in the denomination’s Book of Discipline, the leadership of the United Methodist Church is unable or unwilling to live by those standards.”
TL;DR: They’re angry because the anti-gay UMC still isn’t anti-gay enough.
So much for the larger purpose of worshiping God, serving the poor, and everything else about Christianity that you’d think actually matters. Their thinking is that if you believe in equal rights for LGBTQ people, then, to quote Karen Smith from Mean Girls, “You can’t sit with us.”
The church plans to affiliate with the more conservative (and much smaller) Free Methodist Church, but they’d be better off just moving to a silo since that’s where their mindset has taken them. They want no part in reaching humanity. They’re embracing their bigotry while creating an expiration date for their own relevance.
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