Saturday, June 10, 2023

A Parish Has Left the United Methodist Church for the Best Reason

In our deeply polarized, divided times I did not expect to encounter the story I'm about to share with you. It's from Colton, New York, where yet another United Methodist parish has opted to split from the denomination. As I've shared here previously(see: The United Methodist Church Split), the United Methodist Church is undergoing a split over full inclusion of LGBTQ+ folks in the life of the church, as well as along related theological lines (progressive vs evangelical). Many such churches are opting to join the new Global Methodist Church, others are joining existing Wesleyan denominations that are more evangelical, and still others are remaining independent or forming their own networks. The Colton church has decided to go independent, but not so they can take one side or the other. The parish was split down the middle on the theological issues, so rather than divide the congregation, their vote to go independent means they will all stay together. They will not be part of the UMC, but also not part of any other group. What I'm saying is that staying together was more important to the members than their other concerns.

Frankly, this is remarkable to me. 

“We made a decision to not go traditionalist or progressive, so we became an independent church. We’re not affiliated with any denomination at this point because our congregation was split right down the middle.” — Bruce Winters, treasurer of Colton Community Church.

As you hopefully caught just there, the former UMC parish is now a nondenominational community church. To keep their property and go independent, they paid $20,000 to the denomination. Not a bad deal overall, though I imagine they have a sense of ownership already that made the price tag smart a bit. In any case, they are now free to do their own thing, together.