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Breakaway Texas UMC Megachurch Reveals Plans for New Methodist Denomination

Por BeLynn Hollers y emily molinero
white's chapel
Iglesia Metodista Unida White's Chapel en Southlake, Texas. (captura de pantalla de vídeo)

Last year, White’s Chapel, a large congregation in a wealthy suburb outside of Dallas, overwhelmingly voted to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church.

Today, the church, which draws more than 2,000 people on a Sunday, belongs to a denomination of one, a network it is calling the Methodist Collegiate Church.

Since 2019, 2,996 churches have formally broken from the United Methodist Church over theological disagreements about ordaining or marrying LGBTQ members of the church, according to the United Methodist News Service. Of those, about 2,000 have joined the Global Methodist Church, a budding denomination created by conservative former United Methodists as a new home for dissenting congregations.

When White’s Chapel’s members voted to disaffiliate in November, the Rev. John McKellar, the church’s co-pastor, told media they decided not to join the Global Methodist Church, in part because congregants, who hold a diversity of views, want to be a healing agent among Methodists.

The new denomination will reject “extreme positions,” according to the Rev. Larry Duggins, chancellor of the Methodist Collegiate Church.

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methodist collegiate
A website lists principles of the Methodist Collegiate Church (Screengrab)

“We are very deliberately building congregations that have different points of view, and are willing to talk to each other about it,” Duggins said. 

At least 50 churches from six different states already have reached out to White’s Chapel about joining the Methodist Collegiate Church, he said, but the church must wait until its annual conference approves its disaffiliation before the church can invite other churches to officially join the collegium. The Central Texas Conference is expected to vote to approve pending disaffiliations at its meeting slated for June 4-6 in Waco.

The Methodist Collegiate Church will be composed of colleges, based on geography, not unlike conferences within the United Methodist Church, Duggins said. Its leaders hope churches within each college will be within a 100-mile radius of one another.

White’s Chapel will be the “Cathedral Church” of the new denomination’s first college, which it has named Trinity College. Cathedrals will provide administrative support to other churches within each college.

Each college will elect a dean who will fulfill similar functions as bishops do in the United Methodist Church. 

collegiate
The Rev. Larry Duggins. (Photo via Methodist Collegiate Church)

“Our dean of a college is much more of a coach and adviser and is not acting in the capacity of employer or boss,” Duggins explained. (On the new denomination’s website, placeholders for photos of the to-be-determined college deans are portraits of famous football coaches.)

White’s Chapel’s November vote to leave the United Methodist Church was held in accordance with the United Methodist Church’s 2019 disaffiliation plan, which allows churches to depart with their properties, which are held in trust by the denomination. 

In order to keep their properties, churches must make certain payments for apportionments — a kind of tithe to the denomination — and clergy pensions. 

The new denomination has no plans to build an ecclesiastical structure or financial infrastructure similar to the United Methodist Church or other Methodist offshoots such as the Global Methodist Church. The church is more focused on “connection and accountability,” according to Duggins.

“We don’t want to build a huge hierarchy of people whose job it is to tell everybody else what to do,” he said.

The churches in the new denomination will maintain control of their own financial assets, but agree to govern themselves by a common rulebook. White’s Chapel members approved their Book of Discipline on May 1, but leaders anticipate more revisions as new churches join their ranks. 

Duggins said the church is trying to create a middle path forward for Methodists while staying connected to Christian doctrine.

“We have got to be able, if we’re to survive in the long run, and if our societies are going to survive in the long run, to find compromises that allow us to achieve the larger goal without having to disaffiliate with each other and go be part of a congregation who only thinks the way that we think,” he said.

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for Religion News Service. BeLynn Hollers is an editorial fellow for The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board.

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12 Respuestas

  1. I’ve read this article twice but it raises more questions than it answers.

    What does the “middle path” look like doctrinally compared to the UMC?

    Would the doctrine of John Wesley be considered “extreme?”

    Are the differing opinions within congregations procedural or theological? If the latter, how can they achieve true unity?

    These are honest questions. I’m not challenging their purpose; I simply can’t make it out based on this article.

  2. ” “We are very deliberately building congregations that have different points of view, and are willing to talk to each other about it,” Duggins said.”

    That’s fine if you are referencing different points of view on baptism, the timing of the 2nd coming, how to administer communion, worship music style, etc…

    It’s not fine if you are referencing decided moral doctrine.

    1. I agree. The Bible is clear on sexuality between a married man and woman. I am so tired of the media saying the church is splitting over LGBT. Not true! Splitting because the Methodist Church is taking out vital scripture of what is not popular in today’s society

    2. How can you have different points of views and be so radically against certain groups of people? How can you have honest conversations when you have already said some of Gods children will be excluded as will women who would want to take part in the church.? I see you as a man who wants to control and will do anything to turn people to your way of thinking and make us even further divided.

  3. I have helped build three churches over the last 35 years. One thing all churches need are biblical financial strategies which enable members to gift gordmore by helping members accomplish their own personal and spiritual goals. My systems help your parents pay for college plus gift $50K per child back to the church. Enabling is the key. Fish and bread story in Bible. Email me @ [email protected] and I can help you raise alot of money from those that can’t traditionally give large amounts of offerings.

  4. I wish the media would stop saying the divide is over LGBT marriages and ordained ministers who claim to be gay. The issue is that they are taking out scripture that the Bible is clear on. God made man and woman. Period. It even says sodomites, homosexuality, adulterers, drunkards will not go to heaven. But they can if they repent and turn from their ways. That is because the physical body is where the Holy Spirit dwells and it cannot live in a defiled body. It is about taking scripture out. Period. If you change the hard things God tells us to do to fit society, then the bible is just another book. Read the New Testament and you will see all of this. The Old Testament tells of man and woman and even a whole nation was destroyed because of sexual perversion. Media, please read the Bible and you will see.

    1. Given that Jesus very explicitly puts parameters around divorce, your response would be more credible if you were as exercised about people, particularly clergy, who divorce, as you are about gay clergy and gay marriage. But you are comfortable with some level of ignoring the clear voice of scripture on the matter of divorce. What that says to me is that in spite of your protestations, the divide in the UMC really is about gay marriage and gay clergy. It’s probably best that you be honest about that fact.

      1. My late wife’s first husband was a drunk, an adulterer, an habitual thief and a liar who abandoned her and never came back. She eventually got an in absentia divorce. Please write back and repeat your opinions about how horrid divorce is. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

  5. I agree with the comments stating that the church is not “splitting” over LGBT. However, it appears that way because the church does NOT take the same hardline stance against adulterers, liars, gossips, and abusers in pulpits and congregations. Scroll this site alone, and you’ll read stories and perspectives of targets and observers of such unBiblical behavior within the church – including inconsistent responses on both individual and collective levels. And let’s not forget, the church overwhelmingly backed and defended a candidate who has displayed ALL of these unBiblical behaviors. I guess it’s all ok as long as he isn’t gay, right?
    I get why the world is confused.

    I’d also like more details on what is the “middle path”. I do agree that everything has gotten so polarizingly extreme, but it’s still not clear what the “middle” is in this case.

    1. I agree we should be consistent in calling out every kind of sin, and we often aren’t. That said, everyone typically agrees those other things are wrong, even when they fail to deal with them properly. By contrast, with homosexual behavior we are being asked not just to overlook it but to declare it good. The first is a failure of practice, while the second involves calling good evil and evil good, which makes right practice impossible, hence it is worse.

      The other thing to note is that, frequently, those who point out the failure of the church to deal with these other sins do so as a means of justify their approval of same sex relationships, which is precisely the reverse of how we ought to respond. The proper response to hypocrisy isn’t approving more sin, but eliminating the inconsistency in our practice.

  6. If they’re not going to be a Bible believing & Bible teaching church are they really any different than the “new” United Methodist Church?

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Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “The Atlas Factor: Shifting Leadership Onto the Shoulders of Jesus” by Lance Ford.