Hundreds of Texas Churches Seek Approval to Leave the United Methodist Church

White's Chapel United Methodist on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022 in Southlake. © Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News/TNS
White’s Chapel United Methodist on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022 in Southlake.
© Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News/TNS

The regional governing bodies of the United Methodist Church are called annual conferences. They typically meet once a year to conduct church business. But two of those Texas conferences will meet this weekend in special sessions to approve the withdrawal of potentially hundreds of churches from the UMC.

After a controversial stance against same sex marriages and LGBTQ clergy members was upheld by a slim majority in 2019, congregations across the country are seeking to leave the denomination through a meticulous process called disaffiliation. Although the two conferences meeting this weekend do not cover the Dallas-Fort Worth area, up to 439 churches across Texas could be granted approval to leave the denomination along with their properties.

In this process, the UMC is allowing churches to leave the denomination while retaining their properties and assets as long as certain steps are taken before the end of 2023. Church congregations must first reach a 2/3 majority vote in favor before being approved by their annual conference.

Many conservative congregations are leaving UMC, believing the stance passed in 2019 has not been enforced. However, some churches deny leaving over LGBTQ inclusion and point to a variety of differences from finances to theology.

The two regions meeting Saturday are the Texas Annual Conference, based out of Houston and covering east Texas and Tyler, and the Northwest Texas Annual Conference, which encompasses the Texas panhandle and Lubbock. They are two of six conferences in the state.

In the Northwest Conference, more than half of its roughly 200 churches are seeking approval to officially disaffiliate, a spokesperson confirmed to The Dallas Morning News. If approved at the specially called session this Saturday in Lubbock, 145 churches would sever their relationship with the UMC promptly at the end of this year.

In the Texas Conference, 294 out of its 598 churches are seeking the same approval Saturday. The Texas Annual Conference is the third largest in the country, according to its director of communications, Shannon Martin.

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Source: MSN