Why I’m Leaving the United Methodist Church

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If you’ve been keeping up with ecclesiastical news, you may have noticed that the United Methodists are making headlines. Earlier this year, in April, I wrote “What’s Up  With Those Methodists?,” briefly explaining the brouhaha in the United Methodist Church. Today’s article is an update and a more detailed account of the inevitable division of the church.

Rather than go into a history lesson on Methodism, which might be as tedious as reading one of John Wesley’s sermons, you can get the brief (?) Wikipedia facts here. If you really want to do some digging, scroll down in the linked article to the section on 2020-2022 schisms, but please remember that Wikipedia is giving you the common and popular view of what’s going on. The views in this article are my thoughts on why it’s time to leave the United Methodist Church.

The Methodist church has been around for over two centuries, but the United Methodist Church (UMC), was formed in 1968 by the joining of the Methodists and the Evangelical United Brethren.

The UMC is organized and defined by its Book of Discipline (BOD) which contains the law and doctrine of the United Methodist Church. It was originally published in 1784 and has been published every four years since then, following the meeting of the General Conference, a worldwide delegation of United Methodist delegates. This delegation passes legislation which is then included in the new publication of the Book of Discipline.The latest BOD was published in 2016–there was no General Conference in 2020 because of COVID.

Basically, ever since then, the UMC has been headed for a breakup. The division is one of Traditionalists v. Progressives (in political terms, Conservatives v. Liberals). But why, after over 200 years Methodism, can we not just all get along? Well, that depends on who you talk to. So be patient with me for a couple of minutes as I attempt to explain.

All United Methodists–bishops, district superintendents, clergy, laity, and congregants–take vows to abide by the covenant set forth in the BOD. In a nutshell, here’s the problem: UMC bishops are refusing to discipline those who break their vows, even if those vow-breakers are other bishops.

We Traditionalists have called on the Council of Bishops to abide by the Book of Discipline, but the Bishops in the United States have blatantly refused to do so, thus violating their own vows to the denomination and blatantly defying anyone to do anything about it.

Progressives are shouting that Traditionalists don’t love Jesus because we adhere to the definition of sin found in the Scriptures. In other words, the Progressives would have you believe that we Traditionalists must hate gays because we identify homosexuality as a sin. Although sin is mentioned throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the Scripture that is the most-quoted as condemning the practice of homosexuality is from the Book of Romans. In Chapter 1, the Apostle Paul describes what has happened to humankind:

25 …they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural,

27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done.

29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips,

30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

32They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them.

I’ve always believed that, as Christians, we are called to love the sinner, but hate the sin. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. The complete UMC position on human sexuality can be found here.

The crux of the matter is that we Traditionalists welcome the LBGTQ+ children of God, but if they don’t acknowledge and repent of the sin (repent means “turn away from”), we don’t believe that they can be ordained, nor may a UMC pastor perform a same-sex marriage. In other words, I am happy to have a practicing LBGTQ+ person worship next to me in church, but I don’t believe he or she should be an ordained pastor, nor should a same-sex marriage union be condoned by the church. Progressives want to remove any restrictive language about LBGTQ+ individuals from the BOD. They don’t just want to ignore the sin–they want to change the definition of sin. 

Enough about the homosexuality issue. Here are the additional reasons that we United Methodists can no longer “just get along.”

The short book, Are We Really Better Together?, by Rob Renfroe and Walter Fenton, succinctly sums up our differences. Both authors are Traditionalist UM pastors who have aligned with the Global Methodist Church (GMC). The GMC is just one of the iterations of Methodism that offers a choice for congregations that choose to leave the UMC.

Renfroe and Fenton write:

Are we really together? ….Our differences go deeper, to some of the foundational questions of what it means to be the church: Is Jesus Christ the only way to God? Is His death on the cross the only means for salvation? Are the Scriptures fully inspired and authoritative for revealing God’s will and binding on how we should live our lives? We [Traditionalists] believe the answer to these questions is a resounding Yes! while others in the church [Progressives] would answer differently. The painful truth is that we cannot agree on these central matters of faith…. If we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two. If we are two churches, we should not pretend to be one. 

The truth is we are two churches. We see the inspiration and the authority of the Bible differently. We have different sexual ethics. We disagree on marriage and ordination. We understand our mission differently. We are even divided in our proclamation that Jesus Christ is the way and the truth, and the life. These are not small matters. And there is no ‘way forward’ that will unite us. 

As a lifelong Methodist–I was baptized into the Methodist Church when I was an infant and confirmed as a teenager–this division in “my” church is painful. But we United Methodists are not alone. Four other major Protestant denominations–Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians–have already divided over many of the same issues.

I welcome your comments, and you have questions, feel free to ask. I’ll be happy to explain further and/or to point you in the direction of other writers who have similar views. To be fair, I’ll even point you in the direction of writers who have disparate views.

As Christians, we know that there has been only one perfect human being. We Traditionalists do not believe that we are perfect, but we do believe that abiding by God’s Word is in keeping with His will for us. And we also believe that we must disaffiliate from an institution that seeks to destroy the United Methodist Church by sacrificing it on the altar of “Tolerance.”

Please pray for our church. We vote to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church on November 6.

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43 thoughts on “Why I’m Leaving the United Methodist Church”

    • Bob, United Methodism is just one “denomination” of Methodism. It’s the largest denomination, but there are other choices. The three denominations that have made presentations to our congregation are the Global Methodist Church, the Free Methodist Church, and an Independent Methodist Church. God willing, I plan to stay a Methodist, just not a United Methodist. I’m Wesleyan through and through. If our vote to disaffiliate is successful (we have to have 66% of the vote), the church will then have to decide whether or not to affiliate with another Wesleyan denomination. Pray for us.

  1. “Progressives are shouting that Traditionalists don’t love Jesus because we adhere to the definition of sin found in the Scriptures.” That is said in almost every church, nowadays. Traditionalists say the same about progressives. The progressives don’t understand the traditionalist views, which come from the early church. If the early church was flawed, just what exactly is left for the believer?
    The Scriptures.

    Similar to your path, but in the Episcopal church, left and right have become like today’s current political monster. I don’t know who started it, guess I don’t care anymore, but within and becoming without the Church of England, we, who were raised in the traditional Anglican church, at least me, feel homeless. The Church of England is still massive in Africa, and they seem to have the same splinters as the rest of the church. My dad had problems with the direction of the Episcopal church, back in the 70s, and I didn’t understand things then, or now. I heard one Episcopal priest say that the Archbishop of Canterbury has the attitude of managing the decline of the church. How should that make a communicant feel? How does one even manage decline? That just seems so cruel.
    All I do know is that church affiliation is not some ticket to Heaven, and with the direction all major religions seem to be heading, the straight and narrow path is only found in the Bible.
    I hope you find peace wherever you land, and may your church vote to separate from the madness of the progressives. You are not alone!

  2. It is for good reason Scripture documents the fragmentation of the Israelite tribes. Return to the Faith that best emulates, preserves and shared Scriptures Jesus often referenced. The Jews misplaced the Hebrew version, the Greeks reassembled it via Septuagent, and Roman empire preserved and distributed Scripture, teachings, canon and traditions through their empire via The Churches in Constantinople and Rome. Britain followed almost verbatim translation in St James Bible. Studying this history and the Old Testament means we have 3 choices if we want the closest proximation to our Christian origin:
    a) Messianic b) Roman Catholic or c) Greek/Eastern Orthodox. All others are disney versions.

    • The Catholic Traditional Latin Mass, is the most reverent, holy, and sacred Mass you will find. The Catholic Church today is Traditionalists versus the modernists (Disney version). Vatican II has been an enormous FAIL, resulting in an extensive decline in mass attendance and Priests. I don’t know anything about the Greek/Eastern Orthodox so cannot comment on that.

    • The Roman Catholic church was not the original church. Constantine was already the “Pontifex Maximus” of the old Roman religion as all the emperors were from the time of Julius Caesar. The older emperors claimed descent from the gods as their justification to rule. When Constantine converted, and in turn forced the conversion of the empire, he named himself Pontifex Maximus of his new faith. His mother went around the holy land declaring different locations to be the landmarks of the church, id the place where John baptised Jesus, the barn where Jesus was laid in the feed trough (AKA manger) and others. Jesus told Peter that, “Upon this rock” he woudl build his church, but the rock was Peter’s faith, not his person. Catholicism was born as a political tool to control the masses. The Orthodox church is merely a political offshoot that went along with the division of the empire. Study the true history, and then realize the the true church is composed of those who have a personal relationship with God as their father and savior. That leaves the believer with responsibility to seek and follow his own relationship.

    • Yes. My understanding is that individuals can join, and an entire congregation may also vote to affiliate with the Global Methodist Church. Our congregation has not made a decision regarding where we will land. That will come after we (successfully) vote to disaffiliate.

  3. I just can not condone the same sex marriage its bad enough that they live together but what they do in their own home I could care less but don’t try to make me say its ok.That is what really sticks in my craw about the whole gay lifestyle and all the rest is they are trying to make the rest of us say what they do is right its not.The whole world has gone insane teaching little kids about gays and trans what ever they don’t need that in their young lives they find out soon enough the way it is .What this is all about is trying to make it right and getting as many converts as possible to their wrapped way of life that and getting control of what people think its called mind control then comes communism .

  4. We all have an enemy, and he seeks to steal kill and destroy the church, the body of Christ, His church. From what I see he’s doing a good job, splitting congregations, making people argue about sin, putting doubt in people’s hearts and causing mayhem wherever he can, and the church stands around moaning and groaning and crying that the denominations are a mess! We are in a vicious spiritual battle. Learn how to see his presence, recognize who or what he’s using, and have nothing to do with them. It’s everywhere, the church is struggling, and most people don’t foresee what’s coming, but the future is written for us to know! If a church doesn’t prepare its people for for what God says is happening now, get up and run out and don’t go back! They are not teaching and preparing you, and you are wasting your precious time 💙

  5. Perhaps the whole thing with the Methodist Church goes back to ordaining women as pastors and preachers…? How far a step was it from there to ordaining homosexuals? How far a step was is from there to hosting Drag Queen Story Hours for preschoolers? The problem(s) in the Methodist Church is/are the same problem that confronts all of Christianity today: It’s called apostasy. And it is of Satanic origin. So there you have it.

  6. I am sorry for your church that y’all are facing this decision, but it looks like you are in the majority of the congregation that wishes to leave. We have the same problem in the Presbyterian churches; there are 2 different national groups, and we are in the more conservative one in our church. But I fear that even our traditional group will start to weaken and accept things that we have always been against, in the name of inclusion, of course. Time will tell, won’t it.

    Another good Sunday article from you!

    • Thanks for reading, Alma. I believe that you and I are on the same wavelength. In order for our church to disaffiliate and keep the church building and property, we must have a 2/3 affirmative vote of the members who are present at the meeting. Pray for us!

  7. Why many Christians are failing in their Christian Faith.

    Simple stat. 200 different Christian Denominations on the US alone and 45,000 world wide. Ni unity in the Scriptures and most all of them hold the mistaken belief that if you don’t follow the dogma of their denomination that you are pre-consigned, by them of course, that you are destine to an eternity of torment in Hell, apparently to the delight of “saved” members of their denomination and God.

    The vast majority of these denominations have painted God to be some type of maniacal tyrant that is just waiting to “zot” the people out of existence, who get out of line, as in the Anteater in the cartoonist Bob Brownie’s strip BC. They dwell on the punishments that God has used, for good reason as described in scripture, and have taken it upon themselves, inappropriately, to judge and condemn others, which God Himself has told us through Jesus and the prophets that we should not do. Sort of like a club of exclusive membership.

    Hate the sin but love the sinner is a teaching of God/Jesus, that shows mercy and compassion, which is good as all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. If this were not true no one could ever be saved.

    Worship, for the vast majority of people, has largely become a Social Gathering where a few minutes of actual worship is done and the rest of the time is devoted to social things. The leaders of their respective congregations all seem to be more concerned with how many butts are in the pews and the amounts of monies in the offering plates than they are of Godly things. Instead of concentrating on the problems of sin and what the remedy to sin is, they politicize it to make those continued sins palatable and acceptable in the church.

    There are 168 hours in the 7 day week, yet most attendees of all Christian Churches today only spend about 2 to 3 hours even thinking about God. Want evidence? Pick any denomination, go there after their 45 to 60 minute largely poor attended Sunday or Sabbath School, and watch them intermingle with the larger group I call Christers, who start flocking through the doors of the church for the “social” worship service.

    Christers? Sorry, it’s a term for the alleged “faithful” that only attend on Christmas and Easter and only then if they have a child or relative participating in an acting or singing event on the platform in front of the congregation.

    A couple of warm-up, new age, progressive, not so “Christian” songs, a prayer, a children’s story on how we are supposed to treat others, where the children are doing something and not really interested in what is being discussed, followed by another prayer, and possibly a song and the pastor/speaker starts to deliver his 35 to 45 minute talk. Meanwhile, about 25 minutes into his talk, 95% of the congregation restlessly start to check their watches to see “when will this guy stop talking so we can get out of here” takes place while their children entertain themselves with their smart phones during the worship services.

    So, what’s the real problem here? That question can best be answered with the question, “how can you stand on the promises if God if you don’t know what they are?” So, what does that mean? Instead of reading and studying the scriptures for your selves, and studying them as the scriptures, The Holy Word of God, instructs, and studying them prayerfully with the aide of the Holy Spirit of God, most people are lazy and depend on the words of other people they look up to, to tell them what it all means. Social dogma, instead of The Word of God.

    Simply put, of you are not found in the Word of God on a daily basis and having the Holy Spirit minister to you, you may be a Christer ,but that does not mean that you are a Christian follower of God/Jesus. Basically, Christ is indeed knocking at the door to commune with you but the door is locked on the church and none of the members can take the real effort to open the door and let Him in.

    So, how do you deal with it to find a good church, and don’t get me wrong social is an important thing in any church because we are social beings. But the focus of any church related activity should place more emphasis on the Creator God and His Son than any social event and that is not happening in most churches today.

    If you enter a church that doesn’t follow the teachings of God’s prophets and the words of Jesus; the words that actually tell you how to determine what those teachings are telling you, and they are all there without the interpretations of man if you follow the instructions contained in the Word of God; you probably should take your Bible with you and literally run away from that church that pays more attention to the social events happening around us instead of teaching from the Word of God.

    We are admonished by God that 10% of our increase belongs to God. Is that just money or does that also include increase in knowledge of God by spending time with Him on a daily basis? In short, if you are not daily feeding and nourishing yourselves from the Word of God, you are spiritually starving yourself to death and are not growing in the faith, the only thing that can save you, and you most assuredly will die a death for all of eternity.

    Assuming the average person is awake for 16 hours per day, if you are spending 1.6 hours a day in the presence of the Lord, which is about the maximum time a church attender spends in a weekly worship service, you’re spending only 1.6 distracted hours of time with your Creator God/Jesus and cheating Him, who loves you and wants to save you, out of the 9.6 hours that should be devoted to your weekly communication with your maker.

    Now many will say those decrees were in the Old Testament and they were done away with at the cross. But consider this, when Jesus walked this Earth He taught from those scriptures and 2/3’s of the New Testament verses can be found in the Old Testament. Simply put, when there are important matters, God does not and never has or ever will change. The greatest love story ever put to pen is God’s Word and He provided it all for your personal salvation. That being said, what’s your problem?

    In parting, there are a few good churches out there that have resisted the temptations to go with society and stand stedfast with God. Now, your problem is to find one. Might I offer a suggestion that you take the matter up with God and stop the foolish thoughts about what others think about you. It’s not what they think about you that matters. No, it’s what God thinks about you as He witnesses what you are doing. Your church and your friends won’t save you. Only God can. He already has if you know how to claim that gift of His love.

    Lastly, if you harbour hate for anyone, based on their current worship practice, you definitely are not of God, because Jesus already paid the price for sin for every human that has lived or will live. Hate is a sin and if you harbour a sin you have no hope for salvation. Thank you for your time and may God bless all of you.

  8. I was a member on the worship team at a United Methodist church for 8 years. Over that time, the message strayed farther and farther from the Scriptures. The young, progressive “pastor” used up much of the sermon time showing clips from secular movies, tv, and cartoons. The worship leader then decided to include a militant lesbian, who was aggressively vocal about her sinful lifestyle, on the team. In one conversation she had with the “pastor” he admitted he would attend a “gay wedding” (the mother of all oxymorons). I confronted him, explaining his presence at such an event would amount to a tactic approval of the abomination, but he brushed me off and walked away. I then discovered our overseeing “bishop” fervently embraced homosexuality, and was pushing hard for all churches under his jurisdiction, to do the same. That was the final straw for me and I left the cult (church). The progressive wing of Methodists are now apostates of the highest order. They worship their Book of Discipline, seek to change it to define sin as not-sin, and elevate it above the Scriptures. They soundly renounce God’s Word and reject “I am the way, the truth, and the life”(ONLY way to the Father), and “go your way and sin no more”. The United Methodist Church can no longer be considered a Christian denomination, and true believers should run from it as quickly as possible.

  9. Thank you for your article and thanks to those for all their comments. This has been touched upon but, I would like to add mine. I see a pattern that might fit into your situation. There is a “divide-and-conquer” aspect in what is happening to the churches and in politics, our schools, and other areas of life.
    It can be seen in the rise of totalitarianism. Of course that is an extreme example, but it highlights the pattern. Whatever the subject, those who want the change force it by “divide-and-conquer.” They are after the control and power (and riches in some cases), otherwise they would simply leave and start their own country, church or whatever else they are after. They don’t, they want to blend others to their will.
    Another example is what is going on in our country. there are those who want to change it and if those opposed do not give in then they take to the streets and threaten to burn the country down. Another example, one partner to the marriage wants something and the other does not and so uses his or her power to get what they wants or there will be “hell to pay.” In marriage it is the ultimatum of ending the marriage; in the other the threat of “burn-baby-burn.”
    In those examples it is clear the thing loved will be destroyed if the one does not yield.
    In the case of religion, some found an answer in the Reformation, and other fled like example the Puritans and the Pilgrims.
    I don’t know what there answer is but there are not too many places to flea. I am most concerned with the churches. I was out of the country, living in South America, and when I returned I could not find a church home because of the very things you mention. As a believer, I know it is the hand of the mocker. I landed upon something similar to what someone mentioned – I follow Christ, not the church.

  10. Matthew 10:15 recites that JESUS told His Disciples to go out and preach JESUS’ teachings to the World Wherever they were not accepted, JESUS told them to shake the dust from their feet and move on, However, HE said that Soddom and Gemmorah would fair better than the places JESUS’ Word was rejected.
    This is a reaffirmation of the terribleness of what GOD chose to destroy and why, and the ferocity of the destruction of those things. I know evil laughs and wins when we fight but this is a battle fought in shrinking Awe of our LORD. Gird yoir loins.

  11. You aren’t seeing anything different from what we have in the Roman Catholic Church: too many priests and bishops who accept homosexual activity — as opposed to homosexuality itself, which the Church teaches is a condition, not a sin, kind of like we would treat any disease or handicap — because it’s modern and trendy. I do not know why so many homosexuals are attracted to the Catholic priesthood, and the guesstimates vary widely, between 15% and 50% of all priests are thought to be homosexual — but they have infected, or infested, our Church in a way that is wholly damaging. My own diocesan bishop has supported a homosexual parish.

    As for the scriptural passage you chose, I use the simpler one, beginning with Matthew 5:17:

    17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    So many of the homosexual apologists try to claim that “Jesus never said one word about homosexuality,” but the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ own words, tells us that Jesus reaffirmed the Old Testament law, which included the prohibition of homosexual activity.

  12. Praying for you, Teresa. Religion is man made. The Word is God made. Bible based non-denominational churches are growing and “mainline” churches are falling. There must be a reason for this. 1 Corinthians 15:2, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” I pray you will find a church that is preaching, teaching and following only the Word. Godspeed.

    • This is part of why I haven’t found a “home” denomination or congregation myself… I have faith in the Word of God, the words and works of men who claim (whether genuinely or not) to speak in His name not so much.

      Then again, across the board trust from me has to be earned, and that is a VERY difficult thing to do.

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