47 Louisiana churches have left United Methodist Church over gay marriage, LGBTQ issues
One of the North Shore’s largest congregations has become the latest to separate from the United Methodist Church
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One of the North Shore’s largest congregations, St. Timothy’s, has voted to separate from the United Methodist Church. It’s the latest in the denomination’s continuing fracture over the question of ordaining gay ministers and permitting same-sex marriages.
The United Methodist denomination has over six million members in the United States, and they’re divided. Some in the Methodist church advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ Christians, however, many feel strongly that the church should uphold its current stance against gay pastors and same-sex marriage.
More than a hundred congregations have already broken away from the denomination in opposition. In Louisiana alone, 47 churches have voted to separate themselves.
“It has been an interesting time for the United Methodist Church,” said Rev. Van Stinson, with the Louisiana Conference of the UMC.
For 50 years, St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church has been one of Mandeville’s largest, boasting 6,000 members and a variety of community outreach programs.
Several months ago, St. Timothy’s entered into discernment, a process allowing church members to vote on whether they wanted to continue as part of the United Methodist Church, which includes 400 churches and 140,000 members in Louisiana. The Methodist Book of Discipline states that a local church has the right to disaffiliate on the basis of deep conflict around the issues of human sexuality.
“The fundamental issue is the inclusion of LGBTQ individuals in the full life and ministry of the church through marriage and ordination,” said Stinson.
On Sun., Oct. 30, 858 of an estimated 6,000 members in Mandeville voted on disaffiliation. Of those who turned out, 92% voted in favor of separating from the United Methodist Church.
“It’s widely accepted that when the general conference meets, they will change the teaching so that marriage is allowed between any two adults and that self-avowed LGBTQ people can be ordained as clergy,” said Bishop Scott Jones, with Cornerstone-Houston UMC in one online video.
But not all churches are choosing to leave, like First Grace Church in New Orleans, which says they will likely stay.
“Those who stay want this to happen, and same-sex marriage will become understood in the Methodist Church as divine love... which it truly is,” said Rev. Shan Anglim, with First Grace Church.
UMC leaders say a number of St. Timothy’s members are now reaching out, seeking other methodist churches.
“There are 5,200 people out there. Some of them are looking for a new home, and we will ensure that there will continue to be a United Methodist Church in Mandeville on the North Shore for them to continue worshiping in,” said Rev. Stinson.
St. Timothy’s pastor did not respond to requests for an interview. Now that his church has separated, church members have been told they might affiliate with Global Methodist Church or the Free Methodist Church USA.
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