Conservative alternative to United Methodist Church surpasses 4,200 member congregations

Unsplash/Karl Fredrickson
Unsplash/Karl Fredrickson

A theologically conservative denomination launched in 2022 as an alternative to the United Methodist Church has amassed over 4,200 member congregations.

The Global Methodist Church, officially launched on May 1, 2022, ended 2023 with 4,281 member churches, according to GMC Transitional Connectional Officer Keith Boyette.

Boyette told The Christian Post that while most of the GMC’s churches were formerly UMC, there are congregations of different origins.

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“The current member congregations are predominately former UMC congregations, but we do have member congregations that have come from other denominations, or who were previously nondenominational or independent, or new church plants that have already been recognized as member congregations,” he said.

UMC churches “both within and outside the U.S.” continue to seek affiliation with the GMC, added Boyette, who expects more churches to join after the UMC General Conference on April 23 to May 3 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Over the past few decades, the UMC has dealt with a divisive debate over whether to change its Book of Discipline to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy in same-sex romantic relationships.

Efforts to change the Book of Discipline have consistently failed at the General Conference level, largely due to the voting power of mostly theologically conservative delegates from Africa.

Despite this, many theological liberals within the UMC have actively refused to follow or enforce the rules by officiating same-sex unions or ordaining openly gay clergy.

For example, in November 2022, the UMC Western Jurisdiction voted to make the Rev. Cedrick D. Bridgeforth of the California-Pacific Conference a bishop, even though he is in a same-sex marriage.

At a special session of the UMC General Conference held in February 2019, delegates voted to add Paragraph 2553 to the Book of Discipline, which created a temporary process for congregations to disaffiliate from the UMC due to the debate over homosexuality.

According to numbers compiled by UM News and accessed by CP on Wednesday, 7,660 congregations left the UMC from 2019 to 2023, with more than 5,600 voting to disaffiliate last year alone.

The provisions of Paragraph 2553 expired at the end of 2023.

The GMC is not the only denomination that has been created in response to the thousands of congregations that have voted to leave the UMC since 2019.

White’s Chapel, a Texas megachurch that left the UMC in 2022 and identifies as theologically centrist, launched its own network of churches known as the Methodist Collegiate Church. 

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