United Methodist bishops meet, look to pivot after 2,400+ churches disaffiliate

by | May 1, 2023 | Religion

A variety of active and retired United Methodist Church bishops meet May 1, 2023, in Chicago. Video screen grabCHICAGO (RNS) — About 100 active and retired United Methodist bishops from across the globe are meeting this week in Chicago for the first time in person since the COVID-19 pandemic and since the launch one year ago of the Global Methodist Church, a conservative denomination formed for United Methodist churches looking to disaffiliate over LGBTQ ordination and marriage.
Bishop Thomas Bickerton told the United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops it was time to pivot, as the denomination has been losing churches since a 2019 special session of its General Conference approved a disaffiliation plan for congregations wishing to leave for “reasons of conscience” related to their beliefs about sexuality. The United Methodist Church has been stuck in disagreement over the ordination and marriage of its LGBTQ members for decades.
“There is a way through the morass. But it depends completely on where we cast our eyes — not on the dilemmas in this world, but on the goodness of God’s mercy and grace,” Bickerton said during his president’s livestreamed address Monday (May 1).
The bishop’s remarks came one year to the day after the Global Methodist Church launched.

RELATED: After years of loud debate, conservatives quietly split from United Methodist Church

The Global Methodist Church got its official start on May 1, 2022, after the United Methodist Church’s General Conference meeting was delayed for the third time for pandemic-related reasons. Delegates to that meeting had been expected to vote on a proposal to effectively split the mainline denomination, dedicating money to the creation of the new theologically conservative Methodist denomination.
Since 2019, more than 2,400 churches have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church, according to the latest tally by the United Methodist News Service.
The majority — about 2,000 churches and 2,450 clergy, including three former United Methodist bishops — have joined the Global Methodist Church, according to the Rev. Keith Boyette, who leads the new denomination as its transitional connectional officer. And more congregations and conferences around the world have declared their intention to join the Global Methodist Church, according to a pos …

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