A Plano megachurch announced that it will leave the United Methodist denomination to seek partnerships with other “like-hearted churches.”
St. Andrew United Methodist said in a statement on its website it began studying disaffiliation years ago while monitoring the “inevitable fragmenting” of the denomination.
With some 6,500 members, St. Andrew is the second largest United Methodist congregation in the North Texas conference and seventh largest in Texas.
Its departure comes as some conservative congregations in Texas and elsewhere have split from the denomination over what some see as support for same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay pastors.
Earlier this year, some breakaway congregations launched the Global Methodist Church, a more theologically conservative denomination.
Roughly 500 United Methodist churches in Texas, including four of the six largest, have disaffiliated or plan to disaffiliate, according to UM News, the denomination’s official news agency.
“While we have been prayerfully studying this for years, the time has come for St. Andrew to decide its own path,” senior pastor Arthur Jones and executive committee chair Kathy King said in the statement.
“The fact is, we can protect our finances, our property and our pastors by going in a new direction.”
The church’s executive committee, rather than members, made the decision to leave the denomination.
United Methodist churches are expected to follow a trust clause, however, that requires two-thirds of the congregation to vote in support of disaffiliation, UM News reported.
“The process by which St. Andrew made this decision is unique in the history of our Wesleyan tradition, which requires congregational votes on major decisions,” Bishop Michael McKee told the agency. “I mourn the fact (that) the members of St. Andrew were denied both voice and vote on the most consequential decision their church has ever made.”
McKee did not did not respond to UM News’ request to know whether the North Texas Conference will go to court to challenge St. Andrew’s actions.