The Kentucky Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has voted to approve the disaffiliation of 286 congregations amid a debate on LGBT issues.
In a 489-56 vote on Sunday, conference members allowed for the disaffiliation of the churches.
“We begin a new journey,” Kentucky Bishop Leonard Fairley said in a statement. “But you know what? Even as my heart breaks, I still believe God is doing something great and wonderful among the people called United Methodist.”
“Today is the day to believe that this is the best time to decide to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It matters not what the numbers say. The mission is the same.”
According to The Christian Post, he also asserted that “something good will come of this,” and encouraged departing or remaining churches to “stop the harm tonight” and “to get on with the work of Jesus Christ.”
Although the UMC’s Book of Discipline prohibits the blessing of same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy, progressive-leaning church leaders have enforced such practices. In turn, many churches in the UMC have decided to part ways with the mainline denomination in recent years.
Last year, theological conservatives launched the Global Methodist Church in response to the ongoing debate.
The same weekend the Kentucky churches departed from the UMC, the Ohio UMC Conference approved the disaffiliation of 172 congregations.
“I bid the 172 churches that have departed our communion the best,” Western Ohio Bishop Gregory V. Palmer said. “My focus will continue to be on a vibrant future for the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church and its more than 700 churches.”
Meanwhile, the UMC Michigan Annual Conference also voted to allow 60 Michigan congregations to leave the denomination.
Last Thursday, the Baltimore-Washington Conference approved the disaffiliation of 23 congregations.
As of Thursday, over 4,800 congregations have disaffiliated from the UMC, with nearly 3,000 leaving in 2023 alone, according to data compiled by UM News.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Christin Lola
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.