Due to the United Methodist Church's new stance on LGBT rights, the Christ Methodist Church in Milton, Florida, has decided to withdraw from the denomination. The fees associated with the church's disaffiliation were paid by the church, which decided to alter its name.
Cost of Disaffiliation of Christ Methodist Church
In severing its ties with the United Methodist Church, the Christ Methodist Church has joined with the rest of the 195 other United Methodist congregations in Western Florida. WEAR News spoke with parishioners, all of whom stated their approval of the decision made by the church. "I was very pleased and proud of our church for taking a stand for the conservative views of the bible," one of the parishioners, Billy Ezell stated.
According to Pastor Tony Antonelli, the congregation disagrees with the new approach taken by the United Methodist Church regarding same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ clergy members. The pastor claims that the church itself is not undergoing many changes, but cutting ties with its previous denomination had some financial implications.
As mentioned, Christ Methodist Church held one of its first sessions after severing its ties with the denomination on Wednesday, May 10. The parishioners of Pastor Antonelli's church were told that nothing would change. "As far today, it hasn't changed at all. Actually, we had to vote to change in order to stay the same," Pastor Antonelli remarked.
However, the disaffiliation did come at a price. The church reportedly made a payment of $65,000 for the separation. Moreover, Pastor Antonelli said that they had decided to become part of the Emerald Coast Global Methodist denomination, and they emphasized that people of all religious backgrounds are welcome.
Disaffiliation of Churches in United Methodist Church
The members of United Methodist Churches have been given until the end of the year to withdraw from their membership while still retaining ownership of the church property. WKRG News 5 reported that after reiterating its stance against gay clergy and marriage between people of the same gender in 2019, the United Methodist Church (UMC) made the option to become available.
Even though the change was intended to make it possible for more progressive churches to break away from their parent organizations, the opposite has occurred in the South, where most splinter congregations are more conservative. They are concerned that the United Methodist Church will one day accept gay rights within the church.
On the other hand, based on an article from The Standard Journal, because of disagreements on same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay pastors, around 260 of the 800 churches that make up the Western Pennsylvania Conference are moving through with plans to quit the United Methodist denomination. The other two-thirds of the conference, including the First United Methodist Church of Irwin, have indicated they intend to stay in the denomination.
According to Greensburg District Lay Leader for the Western Pennsylvania Conference, Bonnie Judy, they considered leaving United Methodism. Yet, in the end, the vote was "overwhelmingly" in favor of remaining affiliated with the denomination. Thus, several families that had seen their previous congregations vote to become independent became members of the First United Methodist Church of Irwin.