A Texas megachurch that voted to leave the United Methodist Church last year has decided to launch its own network of churches once its disaffiliation from the UMC is finalized.
White’s Chapel of Southlake has recently created a denomination known as the Methodist Collegiate Church, which the megachurch with more than 2,500 members champions as a centrist Methodist church network.
According to the MCC’s “Our Story” page, accessed Thursday, White’s Chapel seeks to create a denomination that “welcomes all people, makes space for a variety of points of view, and strives to set aside differences in order to faithfully follow where the Holy Spirit leads.”
The team behind the MCC is “gathering information and feedback” and planning to hold an “informational conference sometime in the first half of 2023.”
One key difference between the MCC and the UMC is that their Book of Discipline will not be a detailed rule book for all churches connected to their network once it launches.
“It is intended to house the beliefs we share in common and the processes and procedures we agree to be governed by,” stated the MCC. “The Book of Discipline of the Methodist Collegiate Church intentionally establishes room for Supplemental Books of Discipline to be maintained by the local churches.”
According to the emerging network of churches, “The Supplemental Disciplines allow local churches to establish regulations, processes and procedures for use in the local church that embody the character of the local community.”
The MCC also contrasted itself with the Global Methodist Church, a theologically conservative denomination launched last year that around 2,000 UMC congregations have joined since 2022.
According to an FAQ page on their website, a key difference is that the MCC will be “focused on empowering the local church and sharing leadership authority.”
“We seek to limit the discipline at the Collegium level to doctrines we hold in common and the organizational and connectional structures we chose to employ. We emphasize connectionalism as an organizing principle,” continued the MCC.
Last November, White’s Chapel voted to disaffiliate from the UMC, with 2,338 of its members voting in favor of leaving, while 160 voted against and seven members abstained.
In a document released during the congregation's discernment process, White’s Chapel said its members believed the denomination’s “ongoing division” showed that the UMC was “a broken institution.”
“As well, the alternatives we have been given don’t seem to align with our context or our theology. These are reasons we are exploring a ‘realignment,’” noted the discernment document.
“We hope to align with other Methodist churches in a cooperative manner in both mission and ministry. We envision a new form of connectionalism, defined by shared ministry, equal accountability, and practical governance.”
Over the past several years, the UMC has been embroiled in a divisive debate over whether to change its official stance prohibiting the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.
Although efforts to change the denomination’s rules have always failed, many theologically progressive church leaders have actively refused to enforce or follow the regulations.
As of this week, according to UM News, around 3,000 congregations have disaffiliated from the UMC. This has been mostly in response to the ongoing debate and a belief that the denomination will become more progressive in its stances soon enough.