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.
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