Grace Fellowship in Texas is leaving the United Methodist Church. (Google Maps)
A Texas church has announced that it is leaving the anti-gay United Methodist Church (UMC) because it’s not anti-gay enough.
According to the UMC’s Book of Discipline, the offence of being a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” is defined as when “a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual”.
It is in the same list of offences as sexual abuse, child abuse and racism.
At the United Methodist Church’s general conference in February this year, about 53 percent of delegates to the conference voted in favour of what members call the “Traditional Plan”.
The plan reinforces church doctrine prohibiting same-sex marriage and the ordination of queer clergy. The plan also strengthens penalties for clergy who perform same-sex weddings, according to RNS.
But this month Grace Fellowship in Katy, Texas, decided that this was not enough and that the UMC was spending too much time debating LGBT+ issues.
Despite the vote for the anti-gay “Traditional Plan”, founding pastor of Grace Fellowship Jim Leggett told The Christian Post in an interview that UMC leadership was still not living by “biblical standards of morality”.
He said that his church’s congregation wanted “to remove ourselves from the dysfunctional fighting going on in the United Methodist Church so that we can fully devote our energies to fulfilling the mission and vision that God has given to us”.
He continued: “At one point, we looked up and noticed that we were spending easily 30 percent of our leadership meeting time discussing the issues of the UMC, and we realized that this was not good stewardship of our time and resources for the Kingdom of God.
“In the last year, it has become clear to us that despite having biblical standards of morality on paper in the denomination’s Book of Discipline, the leadership of the United Methodist Church is unable or unwilling to live by those standards.”
The church will now affiliate itself with the smaller and more conservative Free Methodist Church.