(RNS) – It was a “very special Sunday,” Reverend JJ Mannschreck told his congregation during the traditional service streamed online from Flushing United Methodist Church in Flushing, Michigan.
The congregation shared pray demands and celebrated what the pastor called “the victories of God” – namely the church’s community garden, which its young people planned to prepare for spring later in the day.
United Women of Faith of Flushing held a baby shower between services for Mannschreck’s fourth and youngest son, Asher.
And – what made it special – a member of the church’s preaching team gave his first sermon, on Moses and forgiveness, as part of the current series of sermons called “There and Back”, a reference to JRR Tolkien’s classic novel “The Hobbit”. ”
What no one mentioned was that Sunday (May 1) was also the launch of the Methodist World Church, a new theologically conservative denomination that split from the United Methodist Church that Mannschreck plans to join.
After decades of spiteful debates over LGBTQ United Methodist ordination and marriage, a special General Conference session of The United Methodist Church, and three postponements of a vote to officially split the denomination, the schism has finally come.” without fanfare, but full of hope, faith and perseverance.
That’s how the Reverend Keith Boyette, president of the World Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council, described the launch of the new denomination in a statement posted days earlier on his website.
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Sunday’s launch, Boyette told Religion News Service last week, “was most definitely driven by practicality and the fact that postponing General Conference caused many to say they were tired of waiting and tired of the conflict not being addressed and resolved by The United Methodist Church.
Delegates have debated issues of sexuality at every quadrennial General Conference meeting of The United Methodist Church since 1972, when language was first added to the denomination’s Book of Discipline saying that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”.