A Texas megachurch has announced it is leaving The United Methodist Church (UMC) without a congregational vote after being a part of the denomination for more than 36 years.
St. Andrew United Methodist Church of Plano has more than 6,000 members and it recently shared that it was disaffiliating from UMC and changing its name.
"Everyone involved has a deep love for the denomination that birthed us, but the fractures and flaws of the institution are too deep to ignore. What you may have read in the media or heard does not fully paint the picture of the complexities of the question and our resulting decision," the statement said.
The church's senior pastor, Arthur Jones, and Executive Committee Chair Kathy King shared that leaders voted to leave the denomination due to wanting "to create affiliations with those who also desire greater accountability with more efficient systems and structures" than they have had with the UMC.
But the leaders assured congregates in the open letter that "everything was gonna be alright."
The church also announced it would not affiliate with the Global Methodist Church and would be changing its name to St. Andrew Methodist and "operate over a period as an independent Methodist church while seeking partnerships and accountability with other like-hearted churches."
The church's departure violates UMC's mainline denomination's rules on dismissal.
According to The UMC Book of Discipline paragraph 2553, any "decision to disaffiliate" from the mainline denomination "must be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the professing members of the local church present at the church conference."
According to the North Texas Conference of United Methodist Church's website, a church's disaffiliation from the denomination takes 9-12 months.
St. Andrew United Methodist Church of Plano's announcement comes amid disagreements over United Methodist clergy performing marriages for LGBTQ couples and ordaining LGBTQ people as clergy in the church.
As CBN News reported, 31 UMC-affiliated churches in western North Carolina demanded to leave the denomination. Additionally, more than 100 churches sued the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) because they wanted to leave the denomination immediately.
Dozens of churches in Georgia also split from the United Methodist Church (UMC) over disputes related to LGBTQ issues.
Texas has long been a stronghold for the United Methodist Curch, United Methodist News reports. St. Andrews stood as the largest congregation of the group.
This summer, two other Texas churches also voted to leave the denomination.
Rev. Mark Sorensen, senior pastor of The Woodlands Methodist, said longstanding issues with the denomination's LGBTQ inclusion and differing views on theology and biblical authority ultimately led to his church's disassociation.
"We are ready to move on past the division and the differences that have been an ongoing distraction in our denomination for far too long," Sorensen said in a video posted after the vote.
CBN News has reached out to the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. At the time of publication, did not respond to a request for comment. We'll post their response here if we hear back.
St. Andrews said it would remain "a Methodist church that is Biblically-based, Christ-centered, and Grace-filled."
"Our programs, our services, and our people will not change," the church's statement said.
The UMC is the second-largest Protestant denomination in the country.
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