A megachurch in Alabama has voted to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church several months before the denomination will hold a legislative meeting that might lead to a schism over theological differences.
Frazer United Methodist Church, a congregation of about 4,000 members in Montgomery, voted on Jan. 30 to disaffiliate from the mainline Protestant denomination.
Their decision to depart the UMC will be voted on in June at a scheduled session of The UMC Alabama-West Florida Conference, which is the regional body that Frazer Church belongs to.
“It is not without sadness that we contemplate departing from our denominational ties with the UMC. The Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference of the UMC has been our home for many years, and we honor the connection we have shared and the work we have accomplished together,” said Frazer Church in an emailed statement to The Christian Post from its Director of Communications Kym Klass.
The church said in its statement to CP that the congregation intends to join the Free Methodist Church: "[W]e believe that the Free Methodist Church is a better fit for our present identity and future fruitfulness.”
It further explained that they “look forward to this new chapter in our history once this decision is ratified by the Annual Conference in June.”
“We pray for continued blessings on our Bishop, our Conference, and all UMC churches around the world, knowing that God’s Kingdom transcends all denominational lines,” they added.
In response to the church's decision, the Alabama-West Florida Conference expressed its praise for Frazer Church in an emailed statement to CP.
“Frazer Church is a remarkable witness for Jesus Christ. For many years they have been a leader in the United Methodist Church and in the Alabama-West Florida Conference,” stated the conference.
“While we are saddened that they are exploring denominational options, it is our strong desire and prayer that each church and clergyperson honor what God is genuinely calling them to do.”
The conference added that it “will follow all guidelines outlined in our United Methodist Book of Discipline” regarding the June process of confirming the disaffiliation.
“We mourn their potential departure, yet we know that Kingdom work knows no denominational bounds, and we pray they continue to make positive changes in their corner of the world,” the conference added.
Frazer Church’s decision to disaffiliate from the UMC comes as the denomination prepares to hold its General Assembly meeting Aug. 29 – Sept. 6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Originally scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delegates at the UMC General Assembly will consider measures aimed at ending its decadeslong debate over whether to consider homosexuality a sin and to ban the blessing of same-sex unions.
Many believe that the churchwide legislative meeting will result in a splitting of the UMC along theological lines, with large numbers of traditionalists possibly leaving to form their own denomination while most progressives will remain to change the stance of the UMC on LGBT issues.