A 300-member-congregation United Methodist Church from Weber City, Virginia has announced plans to leave the denomination and join the Global Methodist Church over ongoing debates on homosexuality.
The Christian Post reported that Holston View UMC is pursuing affiliation with Global Methodist Church due to some UMC leaders' refusal to enforce the ban on ordaining noncelibate homosexuals and on blessing same-sex unions asper the Book of Discipline.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Holston View Pastor Chuck Griffin disclosed plans to leave the UMC as soon as a clear path develops for it.
"Our church's top administrative board, the Church Leadership Council, voted 10-0 on March 24 to announce our intent, with one person abstaining and one absent. We delayed the public announcement until we felt we had fully communicated the decision to church members," Griffin said.
Griffin regarded the GMC as a continuation of traditional Methodism, which dates to the 18th century. The vice pastor revealed he expects the affiliation will recover traditional Methodism.
"The Methodist movement traditionally has treated Scripture as the inspired word of God, emphasizing specific biblical concepts like growing spiritually through regular engagement with God's abundant grace. We expect the GMC will be a place where some lost or poorly practiced traditions of Methodism will be recovered," Griffin disclosed.
Reacting to the news on Holston View's plans, Holston Conference Director of Communications Rev. Tim Jones remarked to the media outlet that he was saddened by the matter. Jones said the regional body has a working team that creates a fair and thoughtful process for churches like Griffin's considering disaffiliating from UMC in a way that honors their relationships while complying with church laws.
Jones revealed that Griffin's plans coincide with some other congregations and clergy who are considering withdrawing from UMC and joining other expressions of Methodism like that of the Global Methodist Church. This was based on Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett who acknowledged such a movement in the denomination.
The conservative arm of the UMC broke away from the denomination last year in March and formed a new denomination called the Global Methodist Church due to biblical views on marriage and sexuality. GMC does not recognize same-sex marriage and enforces a stronger ban on LGBTQ people while being racially diverse. At that time, the UMC has already ordained a lesbian bishop and propagated strong support for the LGBTQ.
The breakaway was followed weeks later by the HopeGateWay church in Portland, Maine but out of finding the denomination having very rigid restrictions on LGBTQ people. HopeGateWay followed the steps taken by the Asbury Memorial Church of Savannah, Georgia, which left the denomination in support of the LGBTQ.
Meanwhile, early last March, the 4000-congregation Frazier United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama voted to leave the UMC to join the Free Methodist Church, which they see fits their present identity and provides more fruitfulness to it in the future.
Prior to the pandemic, the UMC leadership announced that a General Conference would be held to discuss an amicable separation of the denomination and issues related to it. However, the churchwide conference has been postponed several times and recently rescheduled to 2024.