'We grieve': UMC responds to 1 million member conference leaving denomination

A procession of United Methodist bishops leads the opening worship at the 2024 United Methodist General Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.
A procession of United Methodist bishops leads the opening worship at the 2024 United Methodist General Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. | Mike DuBose/UM News

The United Methodist Church Council of Bishops has issued an official response to the news that a regional body with over 1 million members had voted to leave the denomination.

The Côte d'Ivoire Conference, based in West Africa, voted last month to leave the UMC over the denomination removing rules that prohibited the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of people in same-sex relationships from its Book of Discipline.

UMC Council of Bishops President Tracy Malone said in a statement issued Wednesday that she acknowledged the vote and the bishops were working with the conference as it becomes an autonomous church body.

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.

“While we grieve Cote d'Ivoire Conference’s decision to separate from The United Methodist Church, we commit to work with them through the process of becoming an Autonomous Methodist Church,” stated Malone.

“While we are not all of one mind in all things, the strength of our connection is love, respect, compassion and a shared commitment to faith in Jesus Christ.”

Malone added that the UMC “is a worldwide denomination that shares the same Constitution, Doctrinal Standards, Theological Task, Social Principles and embraces the cultural, contextual and theological differences across the connection.”

“The General Conference decisions that removed the restrictive language in the Book of Discipline related to LGBTQIA persons do not force pastors or churches to act contrary to their conscience and can make decisions in their missional contexts,” she continued.

The Côte d'Ivoire Conference was one of the largest regional bodies in the UMC, having previously been independent from the mainline Protestant denomination before joining it in 2004.

The conference’s approved decision states that the UMC “has preferred to sacrifice its honorability and integrity to honor the LGBT" and that "the new United Methodist Church is now based on sociocultural and contextual values which have consumed its doctrinal and disciplinary integrity."

At the UMC General Conference in late April to early May, delegates voted overwhelmingly to remove from the Book of Discipline a host of rules like the ban on blessing same-sex unions, the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals, and the funding of LGBT advocacy groups.

These changes were aided by the departure of approximately 7,500 mostly conservative congregations from the UMC over the past few years due to the ongoing debate over LGBT issues and the refusal of many progressive leaders to enforce the rules.

Additionally, delegates at the General Conference voted to approve the departure of the UMC Eurasian Episcopal Area, which has four annual conferences in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

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