Asbury's largest Methodist congregation in Dane County, Wisconsin, has decided to sever ties with the United Methodist Church due to the latter's changing stance on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ clergy. Although the UMC has become more progressive on LGBTQ+ rights, it still maintains a ban on same-sex marriage.
The dissatisfaction with the UMC is widespread, as one-tenth of Wisconsin's Methodist congregations are currently disaffiliating from the organization. Asbury's move to remove their affiliation with the UMC reflects the congregation's belief that the denomination's views on LGBTQ+ rights no longer align with their own.
Progressive Adaptation is a Must for Unity
Asbury United Methodist Church, the largest Methodist church in Dane County, Wisconsin, has voted to leave the United Methodist Church due to disputes over LGBTQ+ rights. According to the Cap Times, the UMC prohibits same-sex marriage and "practicing homosexuals" from serving as clergy members.
Asbury's leaders anticipate that the UMC will soon loosen these restrictions. Disaffiliation became an option after disagreements over LGBTQ+ rights occurred at the UMC's last national meeting in 2019. Nearly 75% of voting Asbury church members elected to disaffiliate, well beyond the two-thirds margin required.
However, those who voted to stay said that Asbury's disaffiliation resulted from a years-long shift away from LGBTQ+ inclusion within the church and that they were not anti-gay. Asbury is one of about 50 churches in Wisconsin pursuing disaffiliation from the denomination.
Religious organizations often perpetuate discrimination due to their slow adaptation to change and emphasis on tradition. The article in Badge Herald shows this in the UMC's late response to same-sex marriage, as they maintain a ban on it despite growing support among members.
The organization's doctrinal stability results from its structure, but this hinders social progress. However, there are signs of change as evolving beliefs among UMC members are starting to be reflected in church doctrine. The Pew Research Center's Religious Landscape Study shows a growing majority supporting same-sex marriage.
Asbury's decision to leave the UMC aligns with the thousands of other congregations that have left the denomination in protest.
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The Decision of the Asbury United Methodist Church
Asbury United Methodist Church has decided to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church due to what they perceive as a slow drift from their historic Christian mission. According to their website, Asbury Church, while they do not know when or where they will affiliate with a new denomination, they are focused on protecting the ministry of Asbury and fully disaffiliating from the UMC.
One possible future is joining the Global Methodist Church, a future denomination of former United Methodists from various regions who uphold the authority of Scripture. Asbury has a transition committee of staff and lay leaders who have been planning for three years to lead the church through the denominational and pastoral transition. They plan to retain their identity as a Scripturally focused and doctrinally faithful congregation. Updates on their disaffiliation process can be found on their website.
Related Article: Asbury Church to Disaffiliate with United Methodist Church Due to Disagreement on LGBTQ+ Inclusion