About 100 congregations in Ohio have decided to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church (UMC) due to the denomination’s ongoing debate over homosexuality.
This move follows the path of thousands of other churches across the United States who have made similar decisions.
The decision came during a special session of the UMC West Ohio Conference held last weekend at the Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City. Approximately 800 clergy and laity attended the session, presided over by Bishop Gregory V. Palmer. During the session, 96 churches were granted their request to disaffiliate from the mainline Protestant denomination.
In addition to the disaffiliation decisions, the session also addressed budgetary matters, recommended the sale of two camping properties, and elected additional delegates to represent the West Ohio Conference at the UMC General Conference.
Bishop Palmer remarked, “We were empowered to make some challenging decisions, and we brought glory to God by the patient, honest, and respectful way we engaged with one another. In spite of the challenges, we have come through, and our future is open because God is able.”
This recent development follows an earlier decision in June when the West Ohio Conference voted to allow 172 congregations to disaffiliate from the UMC. The conference had previously allowed 80 churches to leave the denomination the year before. As a result, the regional body, which covers over 50 counties, now has just a little over 600 member congregations remaining.
Bishop Palmer acknowledged the challenges posed by disaffiliation, stating, “Our calling is to serve this present age, even if there’s a storm … in the midst of passing over. One of our storms is disaffiliation. That’s not a blame thing; it’s just the way it is. It’s in the book. We’ve given a lot of attention to it. Let me be clear. It is not our mission. We gave attention to it. We’ll finish up what there is to be finished up.”
The ongoing debate over the UMC’s stance on same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy in same-sex relationships has been a major factor in the departure of these congregations. Efforts to change the UMC Book of Discipline to permit these practices have failed, but many progressive leaders within the denomination have chosen not to follow or enforce these rules. This has led to the departure of a significant number of theologically conservative churches.
In recent years, more than 6,600 congregations across the United States have chosen to leave the UMC as a result of this ongoing debate. A little less than half of these departing churches have subsequently affiliated with the Global Methodist Church (GMC), a conservative alternative to the UMC launched last year.
In a noteworthy update, the GMC announced in September that it now has member congregations in all 50 states, totaling approximately 3,200 churches that belong to this nascent denomination.
This decision is part of a larger trend that has seen thousands of churches across the United States make similar choices. The UMC West Ohio Conference recently held a special session to address these matters, where 96 churches were granted permission to leave the denomination.