An Alabama megachurch has voted to leave the United Methodist Church due to concerns over the apparent theological directionof the mainline Protestant denomination.
Covenant United Methodist Church of Dothan, which has approximately 2,600 members, voted last week to seek disaffiliation from the UMC, with 406 present members voting in favor of leaving, 64 voting against, and four abstaining.
Covenant UMC Pastor Kyle Gatlin told The Christian Post that major factors for wanting to leave included “the direction we saw the denomination was headed,” theologically.
This included how some bishops were refusing to enforce the UMC Book of Discipline’s rules prohibiting the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9
“We saw Episcopal leaders not enforcing the discipline. Churches and pastors blatantly ignoring the discipline. We saw this in our Jurisdiction and in others,” Gatlin said.
He added that while “we did not see this in our own Annual Conference,” his church “felt like for the longterm future of our church, now was the time to leave.”
The next step in the process will come on May 7, when the UMC Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference will hold a meeting to ratify the votes of congregations that have voted to leave.
The leadership at Covenant UMC has recommended that the congregation join the Global Methodist Church, a recently launched denomination meant to serve as a theologically conservative alternative to the UMC.
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