A megachurch in Alabama has decided to disaffiliate itself from the United Methodist Church just ahead of the denomination's legislative meeting.
Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama voted on January 30 to leave the United Methodist Church (UMC). The Alabama megachurch, which is composed of around 4,000 members, decided to disaffiliate from the mainline Protestant denomination ahead of a legislative meeting that may result in a division over differences in theological beliefs. Moreover, the decision of their departure will be voted on in June at the UMC Alabama-West Florida Conference, the regional body that Frazer Church belongs to.
"It is not without sadness that we contemplate departing from our denominational ties with the UMC," Frazer Church said in a statement emailed by Director of Communications Kym Klass to the Christian Post. "The Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference of the UMC has been our home for many years, and we honor the connection we have shared and the work we have accomplished together."
Moving forward, the Alabama megachurch intends to join the Free Methodist Church because they believe it is "a better fit for our present identity and future fruitfulness." Frazer Church said it looked forward to the "new chapter" in the church's history once the decision is "ratified" during the June conference. They added that they will continue to pray for "continued blessings on our Bishop, our Conference, and all UMC churches around the world" and recognized how "God's Kingdom transcends all denominational lines."
Meanwhile, the Alabama-West Florida Conference expressed praise for the Alabama megachurch's decision to leave the United Methodist Church. The conference described Frazer Church as "a remarkable witness for Jesus Christ" and even a "leader" within the conference. While they expressed "sadness" over its decision to explore other denominational options, they hoped that every clergyperson would "honor what God is genuinely calling them to do."
The conference added that while they "mourn" the "potential departure of the Alabama megachurch, they also acknowledge how "Kingdom work knows no denominational bounds."
Frazer Church's decision to leave the United Methodist Church comes months before the scheduled General Assembly meeting of the denomination on August 29 to September 6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The meeting was originally scheduled back in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID pandemic.
The much anticipated UMC General Assembly will see delegates debate over the possible ending of the decades-long debate on ruling out homosexuality as a sin and prohibiting same-sex unions. Many of the faithful believe that the General Assembly will result in further division of UMC along theological lines, with many traditionalists departing as progressives stay and mold UMC into a newer denomination that has a different stance on LGBT matters.
According to WSFA, the UMC may be divided into at least two denominations, namely "Post Separation UMC," which will be characterized by a progressive standpoint on theology and human sexuality, while the "Global Methodist Church" would maintain a more traditional viewpoint and will continue to prohibit same-sexd unions and LGBT clergy.
In May 2021, about 300 delegates from around the world visited Frazer Church for the fifth Global Gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, an advocacy group that is building a new, theologically conservative denomination named the "Global Methodist Church," which cannot officially be declared until the approval of the UMC during the upcoming General Assembly in August.