A total of 107 United Methodist congregations in Florida have announced their intention to quit the mainline denomination for the newly formed conservative Global Methodist Church.

In a statement, The Florida chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a theologically conservative Methodist organization, stated Tuesday that they decided to commence the process of leaving the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.

According to WCA, the number of congregations planning to depart represents roughly 20% of the total number of churches in the UMC Florida Conference. A diverse set of churches including congregations of all sizes, as well as Anglo, African American, Latino, Korean, and other ethnic-religious communities would be aligned to the new Global Methodist Church.

"There will be other churches that will develop as we move forward," Keith Boyette, a WCA leader who served as a Transitional Connectional Coordinating Officer for the Global Methodist Church, told The Christian Post. When asked how firm the congregations were in quitting the UMC, Boyette had known these churches voted to resign. Like the 107 churches in Florida, the GMC's Transitional Leadership Council will arrange small churches into regional conferences, which will be called Annual conferences.

The Global Methodist Church, which was intended to serve as a conservative alternative to the United Methodist Church, was supposed to debut following General Conference this fall. However, the GMC opted to launch this month as the UMC postponed its General Conference until 2024 due to pandemic fears.

Boyette told CP that he expects the departing churches to confront obstacles right away, claiming that the Florida Conference "is certainly not an easy conference" to leave.

Also Read: UMC Bishops President Discredits Faction Over LGBT Stand, Says 'Counterintuitive' to Body of Christ

UMC Split Over Theological Differences

For decades, the United Methodist Church has debated whether to revise its official position that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching," which includes prohibiting noncelibate gays from being ordained and clergy from blessing same-sex weddings.

Despite several attempts to change their minds, theological liberals have continued to oppose the Book of Discipline's norms, and in some cases have refused to enforce them.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns began in January 2020, a theologically diverse group of United Methodist officials proposed that the United Methodist Church sponsor the formation of a new Methodist denomination that conservative churches might join. The proposal, known as the "Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation," would have allocated $25 million to the new denomination if it had been approved by General Conference.

The pandemic forced UMC authorities to postpone the General Conference many times, despite three annual conferences voting to present the Protocol to General Conference for consideration in early 2020.

Meanwhile, in her final statement to the United Methodist Church's leadership body at the annual spring meeting of the UMC Council of Bishops, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey said that the rift in the mainline protestant church over differences in LGBT attitude was "counterintuitive" to the Body of Christ

She emphasized that the UMC, as one body in Christ, has diverse portions and functions as she highlighted Reverend John Wilson's declaration. For her, any component of the body claiming to perform a different "function" cannot claim to be separate from the rest of the body.

Related Article: Virginia Church Leaves UMC Over Homosexuality Debate, Joins Conservative Denomination