Cornerstone Church in Michigan, the largest worshipping congregation of United Methodists, recently decided to leave the denomination due to their different viewpoints regarding those who identify as LGBTQIA+. Even though Cornerstone Church is grateful to the United Methodist Church, they believe that leaving the denomination is a healthy step for their congregation.
Cornerstone Church Decision on Leaving United Methodist Church's Denomination
A report from Fox 17 stated that the decision was announced on Sunday, Mar. 19, by Cornerstone Church, which has its main location in Caledonia and two satellites in the Grand Rapids area. It was made when the United Methodist Church discussed the denomination's future, with the church's connection to LGBTQ+ individuals serving as the primary topic of discussion.
According to a spokesperson for the United Methodist Church's Michigan Conference, since the formation of The United Methodist Church more than 50 years ago, members have been engaged in a heated debate to define church beliefs and relationships with LGBTQIA+ persons in the church. This debate has been going on for decades, and the interpretation of the Scriptures held by United Methodists is at the heart of this disagreement.
On the other hand, the denomination's ability to conclude has been hampered by the pandemic, which has resulted in the United Methodist General Conference being postponed for three years. Policies of the Church can only be modified by convening a worldwide meeting of the General Conference, which did not occur when the COVID pandemic was going on.
In the meantime, many local Methodist congregations quit the denomination altogether, with some joining the Global Methodist Church, which adheres to more traditional beliefs. Seven churches in Michigan have already gone their separate ways, and the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church anticipates that another twenty-three churches will do the same by June.
The Cornerstone Lead Pastor, Ken Nash, said, "We are grateful for the United Methodist Church. While our hearts are heavy today, we believe this is a healthy step for Cornerstone as we navigate ministry in these complex times."
As per the Human Rights Campaign, Policies that are now in place within the United Methodist Church, which is estimated to have 10.4 million members, are significantly discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community. Moreover, numerous religious leaders, especially pastors in the local area, not only accept gays and lesbians as church members but also advocate for their fundamental civil rights.
Also Read: Judge Refuses to Dismiss Jonesboro Congregation's Case to Leave United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church's Exit Plan For Churches
According to Christianity Today, it has been almost four years since the United Methodist Church approved an exit plan for churches that wished to break away from the worldwide organization over conflicting attitudes about sexuality. This action set in motion what many feared would be a modern-day division within the church.
Data from the General Council on Finance and Administration revealed that 1,831 United Methodist churches out of 30,000 nationwide had been granted the right to disaffiliate since 2019. However, international departures from the 12,000 United Methodist churches worldwide remained unknown.
The plan for churches to break their affiliation with the denomination gives them until Dec. 31, and many have already made it clear that they want to leave the denomination. After making payments toward apportionments and pension costs, these churches can retain ownership of their facilities. Others are attempting to force the issue through the civil justice system.
Related Article:Asbury Church to Disaffiliate with United Methodist Church Due to Disagreement on LGBTQ+ Inclusion