Madison United Methodist Church has made the move to go forward with the discernment process to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church.
According to an email to the congregation and a post on Instagram and Facebook, “On Monday, the MUMC Administrative Council voted to hold a vote of church membership regarding disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church. The decision to move forward in the discernment process for disaffiliation followed the announcement of the results of the church-wide pulse survey that was administered the week of January 15 – 22.”
More than 81% or 543 voted in the pulse survey to disaffiliate, while 18.3% voted to remain with the United Methodist Church.
A total of 665 church members participated in the pulse survey that was used to gauge the opinions of church members regarding whether or not Madison UMC should leave the United Methodist Church denomination through disaffiliation.
Madison UMC is one of the more prominent Methodist churches in the Jackson area and the first area church to announce such a move.
Members who did not have access to the email link were given the option of a printed survey.
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The United Methodist Church, in general, has been dealing with member churches choosing to disaffiliate for the past two years. The issues center around, but are not limited to, a difference in opinion about whether someone who identifies as LGBTQ should be ordained in churches. There is also a disagreement over acceptance and affirmation of LGBTQ members. Other denominations, including the Episcopal church, have faced similar challenges in recent years. Amid issues surrounding human sexuality, hundreds of Episcopal churches splintered off nationally to move to the new, more conservative Anglican Church in North America, though no Mississippi parishes left the Episcopal fold.
Churches disaffiliating within the UMC have become more prevalent in the last two years. That trend has taken hold in Mississippi. As of June of 2021, there were 942 UMC churches in Mississippi. According to church leaders, there are currently more than 200 of those churches exploring the option of disaffiliating, needing a vote of two-thirds of voting members to complete the exodus. Decisions on the schism need to be made by the last day of the 2025 UMC Annual Conference, which is an extension of an original deadline of the last day of the 2024 conference.
If Madison UMC does indeed leave the UMC, it will likely become a part of the Global Methodist Church, which is a more conservative offshoot, more akin to the Southern Baptist Church. However, no final decision has been made on that.
UMC Mississippi Area Bishop Sharma D. Lewis addressed the issue in general on January 11, saying, “I’ve been your resident bishop for approximately one week (in) the Magnolia State. In the climate of Methodism, I know that our concerns rest with our faith communities, clergy and laity that are disaffiliating from The United Methodist Church,” Lewis wrote in an open letter to the Mississippi Annual Conference.
“Therefore, I believe that after a faith community, clergyperson or laity discerns another pathway, they must follow it and be obedient to our Lord and Savior. There are two gatherings scheduled to process disaffiliations in the Mississippi Annual Conference — one will occur June 28, 2023, during our regular session of annual conference, and the other will take place Dec. 9, 2023, at a called session of annual conference.”
The next step of the process for the Madison United Methodist Church is for its administrative council chairman to notify District Superintendent Stephen Cook of the decision to move forward with a church-wide, in-person vote of full members. The district Superintendent and conference will work with MUMC leadership to set the date for the vote, which will be held prior to March 31. The church said more information regarding the vote will be shared over the next several weeks as plans evolve.
The administrative council made the decision to enter the discernment process on October 16.
In a statement, the church said, “Please continue to pray for the life of the church, the ministries, and missions that live out our mission to build faithful disciples serving Jesus Christ and as we pray that we are living toward our vision to be a Family of believers in harmony with God’s Word that glorifies God.”
Ross Reily can be reached by email at email@example.com or at 601-573-2952. You can follow him on Twitter @GreenOkra1.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Madison UMC votes to move forward in process to leave national church