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6,000 congregations are leaving the United Methodist church in a split over LGBTQ agenda

Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images

About a fifth of the congregations in the second-largest Protestant church in the U.S. are splitting away over a schism about the inclusion of the LGBTQ agenda in Christianity.

That comes to about 6,000 communities in the United Methodist Church, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

“I don’t think any of us want to see any of our churches leave,” said UMC Council of Bishops president Bishop Thomas Bickerton.

“We’re called to be the body of Christ, we’re called to be unified," he added. "There’s never been a time when the church has not been without conflict, but there’s been a way we’ve worked through that.”

The mass exodus was the latest development in the years-long debate over LGBTQ inclusion in Methodist theology. Traditional Protestant teaching forbids gay relationships and marriages, but some members and churches are opposing the biblical teaching.

Many of the 6,000 congregations leaving are planning to join the Global Methodist Church, a new organization that will neither ordain or marry LGBTQ people.

Rev. Keith Boyette, the chairman of the council guiding the creation of the new denomination, said in March that many churches are frustrated with the actions of the UMC.

"Theologically conservative local churches and annual conferences want to be free of divisive and destructive debates and to have the freedom to move forward together," said Boyette.

"We are confident many existing congregations will join the new Global Methodist Church in waves over the next few years, and new church plants will sprout up as faithful members exit the UM Church and coalesce into new congregations," he added.

Bickerton concluded that the disagreement was disappointing but that the rest of the church would "wish God’s blessings" on those who leave and feel the need “to go and live out their Christian faith in a new expression."

There are about 6.4 million members in the Methodist church in the U.S. and about 13 million worldwide.

Here's more about the MethodistLGBTQ schism:

United Methodist Church split impacting area Congregationswww.youtube.com

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