Loyalties to denominations

There Go the Churches

Mark Tooley on December 2, 2022

Just days ago, 487 United Methodist churches were approved for disaffiliation from the denomination, bringing the total of ratified exits to 1,314. Hundreds more have already voted to exit and are awaiting final approval. Almost all of them are theologically conservative churches anticipating the denomination’s official and enthusiastic liberalization on LGBTQ issues when its governing General Conference meets in 2024.

By the end of next year (the deadline for exiting with church property) at least 3,000 and possibly 5,000 churches are expected to exit. United Methodism has 30,000 U.S. churches. Denominational agencies are preparing for a 38 percent drop in funding for 2025-2028, which implies an approximate expected membership loss of 2.3 million members from the nearly 6.3 million the denomination had in the United States in 2020. That is not a minor exodus.

[Read story here.]

  1. Comment by Pat on December 2, 2022 at 11:12 am

    Mark, thank you for the update. The UMC in the USA will now follow the trend of the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches over time except I believe the traditional Methodist Churches in Africa and other countries will grow and get stronger.
    Excellent article, fact based and a sad day for those of us who were tradition members of the UMC in America leaving due to the abandonment of God’s Holy Scripture and an intentional failure to abide by the Methodist Book of Discipline.

  2. Comment by Tom on December 2, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    Granted that I am a layman with a secular perspective. But why on earth do the leftists never learn? Do the experiences of the Episcopal church, PCUSA, ELCA, UCC, and other imploding denominations teach them nothing? This is truly beyond my understanding.

  3. Comment by Reynolds on December 2, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    Tom,

    They believe Christianity is the problem so they are happy with the results. TEC won’t sell churches to Christians. They will sell to any else though. Once you understand their goal you can see how they are winning. I never understood why the WCA thought the Protocol was ever going to be voted on. They never apologized or told why they believed what they believed. This will cost the orthodox churches dearly for having such awful leadership in the WCA. I am happy to see large UMC churches shun the GMC. The GMC will a shit show from the start

  4. Comment by Claude on December 2, 2022 at 10:47 pm

    Tom, I have had the same question myself. I think the answer is this: There are academic and social circles that church leaders care deeply about, and being considered respectable in those circles is their absolute priority.

  5. Comment by Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret. UM clergy) on December 3, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Tom, ref. your question “…why on earth do the leftists never learn?” I respectfully suggest your question is framed backwards, sir.

    It is more accurate to ask: Why do those holding beliefs that “progressives” call “conservative” and “traditionalist” continuously underestimate the ability and willingness of the ‘left” to destroy that which they cannot bend to their will?

    The theologically “left” have long sought to bend the UMC to their will thru the Council of Bishops and the hydra headed UMC bureaucracy of Boards & Agencies. (I watched it evolve for 25 years and retired early.)

    Like the OT story of the two women arguing over ownership of a baby, the left opted to cut the child in half. Not caring that it thereby rendered it dead.

  6. Comment by Gary Bebop on December 3, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    It’s unfair to characterize the WCA as incompetent. They are quite reasonable, energetic, and discerning people. Mark Tooley and John Lomperis are a “cut above” the ordinary, whimpy Methodist claque. We are at an inflection point. Wait for the final revelation.

  7. Comment by CalCooledge on December 4, 2022 at 10:37 am

    To Tom on Dec 2:
    “But why on earth do the leftists never learn?”
    You are implicitly assuming that the leftists should be bothered by the death and destruction of their denominations. On the contrary, I think death and destruction is the whole point, while they suck out the money from the dying organization for themselves. You might call it Vampirism.

  8. Comment by MJ on December 4, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    I’m not a Methodist/Wesleyan, but is it too early for the various Wesleyan churches to be discussing how to work more closely together? Perhaps in a way that the ACNA was formed out of several Anglican denominations, not exactly a full merger, but almost? I know many probably think it’s better to let the dust settle first, but if you wait, new divisional lines can harden and opportunities for cooperation can be lost.

  9. Comment by Gary Bebop on December 4, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    There’s already fruitful cooperation/collaboration among Wesleyan-Holiness folk through the New Room Conference, Spirit and Truth, and Firebrand. A rich and diverse Wesleyan-Holiness experience is being nourished. Participants represent divergent historical trajectories and varieties of custom and ethos. It seems that God favors a “coat of many colors” or a mosaic of Wesleyan-Holiness, rather than sameness.

  10. Comment by Steve on December 4, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    I have a question from a business, not a theological, perspective. If a church disaffiliates based on the denomination not following their own policies (BOD) and the clergy at that church either loses their employment or has to take a significant pay cut at a new church, then wouldn’t the denomination/bishop be liable for the loss? Wouldn’t the damages the clergy suffered be directly tied to the denomination not following its own policies? Just waiting for the clergy to file a class action against the denomination.

  11. Comment by Dr Matt Hook on December 5, 2022 at 10:21 am

    A friend at our church, where we voted to disaffiliate by 83% and now have to pay $1M pointed this out: If 3000 churches disaffiliate and pay $200,000 each, the UMC receives $600 million. Is that what you see also? Wow.

  12. Comment by Walt Pryor on December 5, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    God is separating the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares. This polarization makes it very clear who fears God and who does not.
    My concern is not about the property or the money. My concern is if we are not too late in separating to not be judged by God.
    As time goes by those who are staying will see they made a mistake. Evil does not become good it proceeds down the path to greater evil. For some, they must see more evidence and they will.

  13. Comment by Reynolds on December 5, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    Dr Hook,

    Your math is correct. There are certain states Texas and Minnesota don’t have to pay based on state Supreme Court rulings so that number of churches won’t have to pay. Most churches won’t pay and will stay and die a slow death. The properties will lose value and UMC will be stuck with them.

  14. Comment by Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret. UM clergy) on December 7, 2022 at 10:25 am

    A suggestion ref. congregation paying for disaffiliation: If the price is high, save the money and use it to start you own worship facility after examining the long-term use and effectiveness of your current structure.

    The building is not the Church. It is the Christian people. (Church structures emerged only after the 4th Century A.D. when it appeared the Return of Christ was going to be delayed.)

  15. Comment by td on December 7, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Rev Cary- you make valid points, however:
    1. I think you understimate construction costs. I agree that you could have house churches for a time, but not for long if your missionary work is successful.
    2. The main reason that there were not official church buildiings before 313 is because christianity was illegal. There were, however, church structures built secretly in homes.
    After Constantine legalized christianity in 313, the church immediately went on a building spree. Case in point, the church of the holy sepulchre in jerusalem was built in 326.
    Yes, the church is not the building, but church buildings are definitely a sign of faith. If they are able to take their property with them, they should- after all they are the ones who have been paying for them, and that investment shouldn’t be thrown away.

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