Pastor warns churches hoping to leave UMC over 'errant theology' face 'draconian demands'

Pastor Glen Haworth of The Fount in Fountain Valley, California.
Pastor Glen Haworth of The Fount in Fountain Valley, California. | Screenshot/YouTube

A California pastor says his church — one of many churches looking to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church due to its ongoing debate over homosexuality — could end up being evicted or forced to pay millions to keep their building.

Pastor Glen Haworth of The Fount, a small congregation located in the Fountain Valley area of Orange County, warned his church about the potential outcomes shortly after attending the UMC’s California-Pacific Annual Conference in Los Angeles.

The Fount describes itself as an “evangelical and historically Wesleyan community of faith, holding to the historic, orthodox Wesleyan Protestant doctrines of the Christian faith.”

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

In a post on the church’s website last month, Haworth said he and another church leader, Ted Smith, unsuccessfully sought to get the conference trustees to “reconsider the terms of disaffiliation,” which requires local churches seeking to do so to pay the UMC the equivalent of roughly half the property value of the church. 

For The Fount, that amounts to over $3 million, according to Haworth, who told The Christian Post that unlike other UMC disaffiliation fights, this isn’t just about homosexuality — it’s theological in nature.

“The main issue we battle is not human sexuality, it is biblical authority,” Haworth said. “The progressives in the UMC choose to ‘interpret’ away anything they do not like in the Bible and actually label what’s in the Bible as ‘wrong.’ 

“We cannot be in [a] denomination that denies basic Christian doctrines and biblical authority.”

According to Haworth, those in positions of UMC leadership are ignoring the denomination’s Book of Discipline, which constitutes the law and doctrine of the UMC.

He says even those bishops and clergy who violate those laws “turn a blind eye to them, with no consequences or accountability.”

“We cannot even hold our bishops accountable, because they are judged by their fellow bishops, who frequently just ignore the complaints or announce a ‘just resolution,' which does little to dissuade further disobedience,” he explained.

Another of the main points of contention is what’s known as the “trust clause,” which was instituted by Methodist founder John Wesley to protect theological drift within the denomination.

Instead, as Haworth puts it, the clause is being used by UMC leadership to “try and drag local churches into errant theology.”

“But the question arises, if the UMC is drifting away from the historic teachings of the church (which it most certainly is), is the denomination a suitable trustee in regard to this 'trust clause'? Is the UMC trustworthy?” asked Haworth.

The Christian Post reached out to UMC leadership for comment and will update this story upon receiving a response.

A reported 22 UMC churches in the California-Pacific conference are seeking disaffiliation, all of which are blocked because of, as Haworth described it, “unreasonable and draconian demands” for half of the churches’ property value.

And, as Haworth explained, if the UMC does not agree to reconsider, either The Fount would have to “walk away” from the property and find another location for their fellowship, or they could take UMC to court.

“Neither of these are attractive options,” he added.

Conceding “we need a miracle,” Haworth called The Fount’s congregation to a “concerted effort in prayer” beyond their regular weekly gathering, whether in person or online.

“We need a move of God! And we need to get on our knees so that God can have a clear path to do what He will,” he said.

In recent decades, the UMC has endured a divisive debate over whether to change its Book of Discipline to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordaining of noncelibate homosexual clergy.

Haworth warned that as more conservative Evangelicals leave the denomination, it will undoubtedly become “more and more progressive.”

“Get out while you can, or else you will find yourself under the authority, officially, of a denomination that teaches contrary to the Bible,” he added.

Although efforts to change the rules have always failed, many progressives in the UMC have refused to follow or enforce the rules, prompting many conservatives to leave the denomination.

Over the last four years, according to UM News, over 6,100 congregations have been given the approval to leave the UMC amid a schism within the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States over whether to change its rules against homosexuality. 

While the number includes all churches that have disaffiliated from the UMC since 2019, more than 1,800 left in 2022 and over 4,000 have departed thus far this year.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles