Methodists in red-state Miss. vote to leave liberal denomination

Methodists in red-state Miss. vote to leave liberal denomination

Methodists in red-state Miss. vote to leave liberal denomination

Determined to uphold biblical beliefs about sexuality and marriage, nearly 200 United Methodist congregations in red-state Mississippi are leaving behind their leftward-drifting denomination but are doing so with heavy hearts.

All totaled, 189 churches were allowed to leave the UMC after a pivotal gathering June 28 in Tupelo, Miss. After that "disaffiliation" vote from church representatives, about 22% of the UMC churches are leaving their historic denomination in a Bible Belt state that has a church virtually on every corner.


The biggest issue is the denomination's acceptance of homosexuality, especially as it pertains to ordaining church leaders. There are secondary issues as well such as the freedom to hire and fire pastors, and to control church budgets and church property.

Methodism, which can be traced to English evangelist John Wesley, came to Mississippi in the early 1800s.

Most of the churches leaving the UMC are going to a new branch of Methodism called the Global Methodist Church, which says it is staying true to God's Word.

Gary Martin, who attends a Methodist church in Batesville, Miss., attended the Tupelo gathering. he tells AFN his congregation is leaving because liberal values are carpetbagging their way into churches that oppose them.

“The issue here,” he says, “is that there are some things out west – not necessarily Mississippi right now – but there are some things out west and we don't want them to come to us.”

Kristen Williams Carey, who attends a UMC church in Jackson, Miss., attended the Tupelo meeting. She says there have been some arguments and hard feelings but those were handled behind closed doors. Overall, she says fellow Methodists were respectful and acted like Christians should.

“I'm happy for that,” she says. “All the emotions have been experienced and a lot of them not nice, but all understandable.”

Carey adds that the historic split has been difficult for many Methodists, such as her own elderly father. His church is leaving the UMC but all of his friends are remaining.  

“He wants to stay because of his friends,” she tells AFN, “but he's heartbroken by the decisions and he's struggling with.”