A quarter of Methodist congregations abandon the church as schism grows over LGBTQ issues

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12/21/2023

A quarter of Methodist congregations in the U.S. are leaving the United Methodist Church as one of the country’s largest Protestant denominations wrestles with issues of sexuality and gender identity. More than 7,600 of United Methodist’s approximately 30,000 congregations had voted to leave as of this week, and the number could grow as the Dec. 31 deadline for departures approaches. “It’s the biggest schism in any American denomination in the history of our country,” said Ryan Burge, an associate professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Among Protestant denominations, the United Methodist Church has been second in size only to Southern Baptists. A 2015 Pew Research Center study estimated about 9 million Methodists in the U.S., though the church’s online directory puts the number of professing members at just 5.7 million.

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