Baltimore-Washington Conference Grants Disaffiliation to 23 Churches Amid LGBT Schism within UMC

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UMC Baltimore-Washington Conference has made a significant decision regarding the ongoing debate over homosexuality in the United Methodist Church. 

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In a landmark move, 23 churches located near Washington, D.C., have been granted permission to disaffiliate from the denomination. The decision came during the annual meeting of the conference this month.

The disaffiliation votes of the 23 churches, which are spread across Maryland and West Virginia, were put to a vote and approved by an overwhelming majority. With 92.3% of conference delegates in favor of dismissing these congregations, the resolution was passed with 597 votes. In contrast, only 7.7% opposed the disaffiliation, garnering 50 votes.

Following the vote, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling addressed the attendees of the meeting, acknowledging the emotions surrounding this issue. She described the current situation as “a time of prayer” and “a time of sadness” but also emphasized that it was “a time of hope.”

“In some ways, this is a failure on all of our parts because we are all supposed to be leaning into the unity of the Body and of the Church,” Easterling stated. “And yet, we are also living into the truth … of where we are.”

The congregations have chosen to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church (UMC) due to the ongoing debate over sexual ethics, as outlined in Paragraph 2553 of the UMC Book of Discipline. It should be noted that Paragraph 2553 is set to expire at the end of this year.

In order for disaffiliating churches to retain their church properties, the Baltimore-Washington Conference has mandated that they pay 50% of the tax-assessed value of their properties. Reverend Sheridan Allmond, a member of the conference board of trustees, estimated that the total amount of property tax payments received from the 23 churches would reach approximately $10.8 million.

Reverend Kevin Baker, the senior pastor of Oakdale Church in Olney, Maryland, disclosed that his church is responsible for nearly half of the $10.8 million aggregate total owed by the 23 churches.

Rev. Baker expressed disagreement with the bishop’s suggestion that “racism” might be a contributing factor to some congregations’ desire to disaffiliate. In response, he submitted a motion proposing that the $10.8 million received by the conference in property payments should be directed towards benefiting African-American-majority churches.

This decision is a significant development in the ongoing schism within the United Methodist Church regarding its stance on LGBTQ+ issues, particularly homosexuality. The debate has intensified in recent years, causing divisions among church members and leaders.  

The United Methodist Church is not the only mainline Protestant denomination facing divisions over LGBTQ+ inclusion. Many other Christian denominations worldwide have wrestled with these issues and continue to do so.  

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