In 2019, the United Methodists narrowly voted in favor of holding to a biblical sexual ethic and disallowed LGBTQ clergy in the denomination after years of deliberation and battling. Believing that the denomination was headed for an inevitable split due to large amounts of UMC delegates who were in favor of LGBTQ inclusion, the denomination surprised many as a majority of the African denominational leadership staved off the total apostasy by voting against it.
But that vote wasn’t the end of it. Since then, United Methodist churches have defied the new rules banning homosexuality and many have moved forward with their gay agenda despite the threat of disciplinary actions. Lesbians have been ordained as “pastors” since then and some churches have even held “coming out” services. Needless to say, the denomination is still filled with almost fifty percent in favor of immoral sexual ethics.
The United Methodist Church, which was originally founded and rooted in the tradition of Jonathan Wesley’s teachings, has been in decline over the past few decades due to its majority-held progressive positions. While there are still a handful of more conservative-leaning congregations left, the denomination is too far gone to be redeemed.
Interestingly, the Southern Baptist Convention is playing out the exact same movie the United Methodist Church has already played, just a decade or so behind them.
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But there is one congregation—a major, 14 thousand-member congregation—that isn’t putting up with it. This past week, The Woodlands Methodist Church voted unequivocally to withdraw its ties to the denomination and move on. Of the 14 thousand members, about 3 thousand showed up to vote and over 96 percent of those cast their vote in the affirmative.
The senior pastor, Rev. Mark Sorenson, released a statement prior to the vote explaining why he believes the church should leave the denomination. “Today AFTE [A Foundation for Theological Education] remains committed to supporting young women and men at our 13 United Methodist seminaries who are often belittled and ostracized for taking a traditional stance on Christian theology,” Sorenson wrote in his statement. ” This practice hits a little too close to home, as I can recall being the senior pastor of the second largest church in the denomination and yet systematically sidelined; passed over and left out of consideration for national leadership roles for not adopting the progressive ‘party line.'”
He continued, “This didn’t happen just once or twice. It took place over decades.”
He then explained that what was “especially disturbing” was the “blatant and widespread disobedience among our official boards and agencies, including the Council of Bishops” to the denomination’s longstanding statement of faith regarding human sexuality. In other words, Sorenson and the elders were fed up with the denomination’s practice of openly accepting the unrepentant sexually immoral camp, ordaining them as pastors and bishops, and parading them around as a way to virtue signal to the public that the Methodist denomination is “diverse and inclusive” rather than, as the Scriptures say, set apart.
Another pastor of the church, Rev. Rob Renfroe, opined that “I have to think about this because I am convinced that the UMC has left me. More importantly, I believe the UMC in many, many ways has left Wesley. And even more importantly than that, the UMC in many, many ways has left the Bible.” Renfroe acknowledged that thousands of churches have already begun the process of leaving the denomination over these unbiblical theological issues.
Following the vote, Sorensen commented, “I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude for each one of you — for your faithfulness and for your bold support of our ministry together here at The Woodlands Methodist Church. So, thank you for showing up today. Thank you for filling our worship spaces. And thank you for casting a ballot. Our congregational vote was a success because of your involvement and your support of our shared mission to Win People to Jesus Christ, Disciple Them in Faith, and Help Those in Need.“
There has been a move over the past two years among more conservative-leaning and traditional Methodist churches to realign in a new global denomination while breaking away from the United Methodist Church causing a major split in the denomination. And while the Methodist tradition still has its issues, this move is a breath of fresh air compared to the apostasy of one of the world’s largest denominations.