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95 Louisiana Churches Exit UMC; LGBT Schism Also Affecting Methodists' Bottom Line


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The Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) has voted in a special session to allow 95 Louisiana UMC churches to formally leave the denomination. 

The Saturday session in Baton Rouge was called "for the sole purpose" of voting on the churches seeking to exit the group, according to the conference. 

The disaffiliation of the 95 congregations was approved by the conference and will be final as of Wednesday, 5/31. According to WBRZ-TV, the departing churches represent 40% of the churches in the UMC's Louisiana Conference. 

As CBN News has reported since May of 2022, conservative congregations in the U.S. have been officially parting ways with the UMC after years of debate on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay pastors.

The splintering of the UMC, the second-largest denomination in the U.S. with 6.5 million members, continues as thousands of local churches have left their regional conferences. 

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Following the Louisiana Conference's disaffiliation vote, which was live-streamed on YouTube, Bishop Delores J. Williamston, who leads the conference's South Central Jurisdiction, addressed the audience of delegates, recognizing the church members who have stayed in the UMC. 

"This road has been long and it has not been easy for those who choose to stay or remain in the United Methodist Church," Williamston said. "I want to say to those who chose to stay and remain: we see you and are moving forward. We want you to know that you do have a place in the United Methodist Church, and there is much work to do."  

The First United Methodist Church of Shreveport, one of the state's largest UMC churches, was among the churches that had their disaffiliation vote approved by the conference on Saturday. Last month, 84% of the church's 1,120 members voted to leave the mainline denomination. Only 166 members voted to remain in the UMC, while 14 abstained from voting. 

According to the United Methodist News Service, at this point, 3,933 congregations across the entire denomination have completed the required steps and withdrawn under paragraph 2553 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, since the law took effect in 2019. That's about 12.8% of U.S. Methodist churches. More departures are expected before the church law expires at the end of the year, but the majority of congregations appear to be staying in the denomination. 

As CBN News has reported, the departing churches are going various ways. Some are remaining independent, while others have joined the conservative denomination known as the Global Methodist Church. The new denomination was established by former conservative leaders from the UMC. It follows a biblical New Testament doctrine that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

At least one congregation is waiting to form its own network of churches. As CBN News reported earlier this month, White's Chapel Methodist Church, a large Methodist church located outside of Dallas, Texas that left the UMC last year, has decided to start its own denomination. 

The church overwhelmingly voted last November to disaffiliate from the UMC over theological disagreements about same-sex marriage.

The 17,500-member church now belongs to a new denomination it is calling the Methodist Collegiate Church (MCC). 

So far, they are the only members of the network but according to its website, the new denomination will be a middle ground among Methodists. Fifty churches from six different states have reached out to White's Chapel to be a part of the Methodist Collegiate Church, but the church must wait on approval of its disaffiliation to accept the requests. 

The Texas Annual Conference will vote on pending disaffiliations during its meeting, which is scheduled June 4-6, according to the Religion News Service.

Meanwhile, as thousands of churches exit the UMC, the denomination's proposed budget for 2025-2028 has noticeably dropped. 

Earlier this month, UMC financial leaders decided to reduce an already record-low proposal for the denominational budget in the wake of new projected losses from church disaffiliations and closures, UMC News reports. 

According to the outlet, the General Council of Finance and Administration board is proposing a 2025-2028 denominational budget of about $370.5 million for next year's General Conference, the denomination's top policymaking assembly. That's about $3 million less than the budget the finance agency began working on last fall. 

The new bottom line marks a nearly 40% reduction of the budget approved by the General Conference in 2016. It also will be the lowest budget to come before General Conference since 1984, according to UMC News

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of