By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
August 26, 2022
More than 30 conservative United Methodist churches in western North Carolina are demanding they be allowed to leave the denomination due to practices that violate Scripture, including the support of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ ideology.
The 31 churches, part of the Western North Carolina chapter of the traditionalist Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA), sent a legal demand letter this month to United Methodist leadership in an effort to “provide an exit for their churches” wanting to exit the denomination, according to a news release. A lawsuit is possible.
The 31 churches are seeking to join the Global Methodist Church, a new denomination launched this year by conservative Methodists.
For years, members of the United Methodist Church have been embroiled in a debate over same-sex marriage, LGBT ordination and biblical interpretation.
Kari Howard, president of the Western North Carolina chapter of the WCA, said the 31 churches affirm the LetUsGo.world petition which outlines the beliefs and goals of traditional United Methodists.
“We are grieved by teaching that violates our doctrine, accepted under the guise of ‘a big tent’ and ‘generous orthodoxy,’” the petition says. “We are heart-broken and frustrated over the violation of, and the lack of accountability to, our covenant. … For decades we have been in fervent prayer, sought compromise, and desired negotiation — all to no avail. We have patiently endured, only to see promises, vows, and polity broken to suit those in power.”
The United Methodist Church, the petition says, has come to a “point of separation.”
“The conflict over incompatible beliefs and visions for ministry serves no one and harms our witness for Jesus Christ to the world,” the petition says. “We want the fighting to end now. … Rather than being forced to be a part of a denomination that is going in a direction we can no longer affirm and celebrate, we want to freely and voluntarily be connected to other congregations in the Global Methodist Church. Yet we feel trapped, even held hostage.”
The petition urges the leadership of the United Methodist denomination to “let us go.”
Howard said the 31 churches are “just beginning the legal disaffiliation process.” Referencing the growing movement of traditional churches, he added, “It is nice to join like-minded churches as we earnestly ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.’”
Kenneth Carter, the UMC bishop who oversees the North Carolina conference, said in a statement the 31 churches are failing to “live up to the responsibilities established by the General Conference in 2019” that governs breakaway churches. Such churches are to pay two years of apportionments and pension liabilities.
But the petition contends that there is another path for churches to separate.
“Churches could leave under paragraph 2548.2, which has been in the [Book of] Discipline for decades,” the petition says. “It allows for the negotiation of a comity agreement to enable churches to withdraw and transfer to another evangelical denomination. This provision of the Discipline is being challenged at the Judicial Council by the Council of Bishops. Unfortunately, many churches will be left with no other alternative but to seek a legal settlement.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the he wasn’t a Methodist, but he was one with the 31 churches in their decision to leave the denomination.
Creech said, “I’m praying for my Methodist brethren. They are doing the right thing. Some may feel division of this kind in the church is unnecessary and tragic. It is not! It is absolutely necessary for preserving the true faith. The Scripture says, ‘Be separate, come out from among them.’ UMC Church leaders have embraced the false teachings of Jezebel, uniting Christianity with idolatry and sexual immorality. These 31 churches must obey the admonishment of Christ to the Church in Thyatira: they should hold fast to what they have – lest Christ judges them as he plans to judge those in Methodism who will not repent.”