Megachurch pastor and author Adam Hamilton has speculated that The United Methodist Church will lose between 3,400 and 7,500 congregations next year due to debate over the church body’s stance on homosexuality.
Hamilton’s Kansas-based congregation, the Church of the Resurrection, which is the largest UMC congregation in the United States, held its annual Leadership Institute gathering Sept. 25-27 with approximately 2,400 clergy and lay leaders in attendance.
A key issue of the event was the future of the UMC in light of its ongoing debate over its official opposition to homosexuality, gay marriage and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.
In a speech given at the event, Hamilton noted that there were, at present, approximately 34,000 congregations in the UMC.
“A year from now, we will not be the same church that we are today,” he predicted, alluding to the UMC General Conference scheduled for next year, which will debate possible changes to the denomination’s position on LGBT issues.
Hamilton told those gathered that after the General Conference next May, there will be “between 3,400 and 7,500 less churches” in the UMC by this time next year.
In explaining his estimate, Hamilton reasoned that between 3,400 and 6,800 congregations will leave the UMC in protest to join a new theologically conservative denomination while another 300 to 1,000 churches will decide that the denomination is not inclusive enough.
“So we’ll lose 3,400 to 6,800 on one side and maybe 300 to 1,000 churches on the other side,” explained Hamilton, who admitted that this was “just a guess.”
“That will leave, though, I think, 27-28,000 United Methodist churches. And the question is what will we become?”
An opponent of the current UMC Book of Discipline language on homosexuality, Hamilton went on to say that he believed that the Book of Discipline will be changed next year.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski