Texas Methodist Churches Leave by the Hundreds Over Denomination’s ‘Too Liberal’ Positions

Texas Methodist Churches Leave by the Hundreds Over Denomination’s ‘Too Liberal’ Positions

Hundreds of churches belonging to the Northwest Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church are voting to separate from the United States' second-largest Protestant denomination. The churches pointed to the years-long liberal stand of the denomination on sensitive issues like gay marriage and abortion as reasons for their decision.

'A Broken Body'

James Nunn, the presiding bishop of the conference, likened the Methodist family to a "broken body."

"We are a broken body. But it teaches us that the breaking is not the end. Even in the best of circumstances, there are feelings that are hurt, and sometimes, relationships are rendered in two," 12News Now quoted Nunn saying.

The Methodist bishop stressed the communion bread's similarity with the current state of the denomination. At the same time, he explained that communion juice is like "cups of forgiveness." Nunn then led the conference's prayer, which called for congregation members' "mercy and forgiveness" toward fellow members. 

The news outlet said the Northwest Texas Annual Conference has 200 churches scattered throughout the Panhandle and West Texas' far end. The recent gathering at Lubbock drew attendance from 145 of the 200 churches, during which the participants voted to split 261-24 from the Methodist fold following Bishop Nunn's Mass. 

The news report disclosed that the 145 churches make up one-third of the 439 Methodist churches across the state that have voted to break away from the denomination. It added that conservative Methodists organized the vote at the Lubbock conference following several years of internal conflict over the Methodist Church's support for abortion and gay marriage.

Aside from the ones that have finalized their decision to sever ties with the denomination, hundreds of other Methodist congregations throughout the state are set to follow suit.

Some 1,245 member churches passed the motion to disaffiliate at the Texas Annual Conference in Houston. Meanwhile, 4% of the churches abstained, while 3% voted against the proposal to split from the denomination. In East Texas alone, 294 churches have already passed motions to break away from the Methodist family, which is close to 50% of the total member churches in the area.

The news outlet bared that the said churches have received approval from church leaders to put their disaffiliation to a vote. Once passed, the churches are expected to join the conservative Global Methodist Church fold.

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'A Hard Time To Bring People Together'

A Houston pastor had weighed in on the current state of the Methodist Church, saying it is now at a difficult phase.

"It parallels this moment in the broader world. It's a hard time to bring people together. We really reflect the brokenness of the culture and the world," St. Stephen's United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Rev. Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe told 12News Now.

Meanwhile, former deputy minister for the conference, Archie Echols, spoke prior to the vote in which he quoted from the Bible.

"I think there's a whole mass of God's children. And I feel, instead of preparing a way with that mass of people, who happen to be gay, we're making a block that doesn't let them in. May we open up the table and not cause people to be left out," Echols explained.

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