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1.2 Million African Methodists Leave UMC over Allowance of LGBT Clergy, Same-Sex Weddings
Posted by Temmy
Sat, June 08, 2024 11:34pm

The United Methodist Church lost more than 1 million members in a single day last week when the Ivory Coast branch voted to leave the denomination due to its new liberal stance on sexuality and gender. The decision by the Cote d'Ivoire Conference of the United Methodist Church came one month after UMC delegates voted during the General Conference in the U.S. to remove the denomination’s bans on LGBT clergy and same-sex weddings.

The Ivory Coast branch has 1.2 million members. An English translation of the Ivory Coast branch declaration said the UMC denomination had distanced “itself from the Holy Scriptures” and “was no longer suitable” for the Cote d’Ivoire Conference. Prior to the withdrawal, the United Methodist Church had approximately 10 million members in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States.

UMC delegates removed the bans on LGBT clergy and same-sex weddings by a vote of 692-51 (93 percent approval), marking a historic reversal from the church’s stances in the 1970s and 1980s that gradually changed beginning in the 90s as the denomination drifted leftward. Other branches in Africa could follow. In Zimbabwe, protesters gathered outside the church’s headquarters last week to oppose the denomination’s new stance.

“The church has aligned with the Rainbow Movement, and this is also a threat to our African traditions and human existence at large,” a petition from the protesters read, according to the Associated Press.

The UMC’s Council of Bishops released a statement that said “while we grieve Cote d'Ivoire Conference’s decision to separate” from the denomination, “we commit to work with them through the process of becoming an Autonomous Methodist Church.”

“While we are not all of one mind in all things, the strength of our connection is love, respect, compassion and a shared commitment to faith in Jesus Christ,” the Council of Bishops statement said.

Roughly one-fourth of the United Methodist churches in the U.S. left the denomination in recent years. Many of them are joining the Global Methodist Church, a new denomination launched in May of last year by conservative Methodists. The Global Methodist Church’s Book Of Doctrines And Discipline defines marriage as the union of one man, one woman.

“We believe that human sexuality is a gift of God that is to be affirmed as it is exercised within the legal and spiritual covenant of a loving and monogamous marriage between one man and one woman,” the book says.

On sexuality and gender, the book says, “While affirming a scriptural view of sexuality and gender, we welcome all to experience the redemptive grace of Jesus and are committed to being a safe place of refuge, hospitality, and healing for any who may have experienced brokenness in their sexual lives (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20).”


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