Megachurch votes to leave UMC after trying to disaffiliate without congregational vote
A megachurch in Texas that tried to leave The United Methodist Church without a congregational vote has now held that vote, with members voting overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
St. Andrew Methodist Church of Plano held a congregational vote last week in which 98.6% of those present voted in favor of disaffiliation from the UMC, totaling 859 members voting in favor versus 12 opposed.
St. Andrew leadership told The Christian Post in an email statement that after announcing the initial plan to leave the UMC, the congregation "engaged in meaningful and productive conversations" with regional UMC leadership "to finalize terms of our disaffiliation."
"St. Andrew's goal has always been to disaffiliate while still maintaining relationships with the UMC and blessing each other in mission for the future," continued the statement.
Part of the final agreement to disaffiliate will include a settlement with the regional body involving the "payment of necessary apportionments and pension liabilities."
"St. Andrew will remain an independent Methodist church for some period and will not be affiliating with any existing Methodist denominations," the statement from the church reads. "St. Andrew is exploring new affiliations with other mission-focused Methodist and Wesleyan churches, both large and small, to grow the Kingdom of God."
St. Andrew is one of the largest congregations located in the UMC North Texas Annual Conference headquartered in Plano.
In a statement last Wednesday, the regional body said the next step will be for the disaffiliation vote to be affirmed at a Special Called Session slated to be held this Saturday.
"St. Andrew UMC has met the requirements for disaffiliation," the conference noted, including "St. Andrew's commitment to pay the necessary apportionments and pension liabilities and to honor the North Texas Conference's terms for disaffiliation."
Last October, St. Andrew announced plans to disaffiliate from the UMC without holding the mandatory congregational vote. The church claimed at the time that the vote was not necessary.
"St. Andrew's decision was made in accordance with its governing legal documents, which allowed the decision to be made without a congregational vote. St. Andrew stands by the legal enforceability of its decision, and it is overwhelmingly supported by the church members," stated St. Andrew leadership at the time.
"St. Andrew's leadership comprises a variety of individuals all with unique professional experience and personal views that are representative of our congregation. They collectively spent hundreds of hours of in-depth research examining both the decision to disaffiliate and the mechanism to make the decision."
The UMC has seen hundreds of churches disaffiliate in recent years due to its ongoing internal debate over LGBT issues.
Although the UMC officially labels homosexuality a sin and does not allow same-sex weddings, many progressive leaders within the denomination have refused to enforce the rules. This has prompted many congregations to leave the mainline Protestant denomination, with most deciding to join the more theologically conservative Global Methodist Church.
A little over 1,800 congregations disaffiliated from the UMC in 2022, according to a report by UM News, with more than 400 of those congregations in Texas.
The original version of this article published on Feb. 27, 2023, reported that the congregational vote tally was 871 to 12. The actual vote tally was 859 to 12 out of 871 total votes.