Texas Megachurches Vote to Leave the United Methodist Church Over Homosexuality

The Rev. Jeff Olive, a Texas Conference district superintendent, presides at an Aug. 7 meeting at The Woodlands Methodist Church called to consider disaffiliation. Members of The Woodlands Methodist, in The Woodlands community north of Houston, voted by a 96.3% margin to leave The United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of The Woodlands Methodist.
The Rev. Jeff Olive, a Texas Conference district superintendent, presides at an Aug. 7 meeting at The Woodlands Methodist Church called to consider disaffiliation. Members of The Woodlands Methodist, in The Woodlands community north of Houston, voted by a 96.3% margin to leave The United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of The Woodlands Methodist.

Texas has long been a stronghold of The United Methodist Church in the U.S., boasting the most annual conferences (five) and ranking at the top in number of local churches and prevalence of megachurches.

But this summer has seen many traditionalist congregations in the state weighing whether to leave the denomination.

On Aug. 7, in votes taken within hours of one another, The Woodlands Methodist Church and Faithbridge — both large, traditionalist churches in suburban communities north of Houston — chose to disaffiliate.

The Woodlands Methodist is among the denomination’s very largest churches, ranking fourth in membership and second in worship attendance in 2018. The church is known for its ties to Good News, a longtime traditionalist caucus within The United Methodist Church that has opposed same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBTQ people.

More than 3,000 of The Woodlands Methodist’s 14,231 members voted in a Sunday afternoon meeting. The church reported that of the ballots cast, 2,678, or 96.3%, were for disaffiliation.

The Rev. Mark Sorensen, senior pastor of The Woodlands Methodist, noted longstanding conflict among United Methodists over LGBTQ inclusion but insisted that disunity owes also to different understandings of theology and biblical authority.

“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.

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Source: United Methodist News