The Global Methodist Church has announced that a new denomination will officially launch in May, which will mark the beginning of the long-coming split of the United Methodist Church denomination.
The GMC is described as being a more conservative Methodist denomination. Tension has been culminating for years within the UMC, particularly due to differing opinions over LGBTQ rights. Calls for a split have grown since 2019, when the UMC General Conference approved the “Traditional Plan” as a way to strengthen churches bans on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists.
“Theologically conservative local churches and annual conferences want to be free of divisive and destructive debates, and to have the freedom to move forward together,” the Rev. Keith Boyette, chairman of the Global Methodist Church’s transitional leadership council, said in a statement. “We are confident many existing congregations will join the new Global Methodist Church in waves over the next few years.”
The plan was announced on the same day the UMC postponed its General Conference for a third time, where members were planning to vote on proposals regarding a split and new denomination. The conference has now been postponed until 2024.
Boyette explained the the GMC announcement came about because “many United Methodists have grown impatient with a denomination clearly struggling to function effectively at the general church level.”
GMC’s official launch was part of a widely agreed upon plan known as the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.” As UMC delegates had not officially voted the plan, the conditions have yet to be approved. Some key proponents of the plan include the UMC paying the new denomination $25 million to get started and how churches that disaffiliate with the UMC can properly maintain a “clear title to all of their property and assets in perpetuity.”
According to the most recent statistics, the UMC is comprised of more than 6.2 million members in the U.S., making it the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the nation. The forthcoming split and new denomination will cause a major shift for members who stay within the UMC, though it’s hard to determine what comes next.