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83 United Methodist Churches in Iowa Exit Denomination

Most plan to join the new Global Methodist Church

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Another large contingency of church congregations is exiting the United Methodist Church (UMC) denomination—this time in Iowa.

About 11% of the state’s Methodist congregations, or 83 churches, are leaving the Iowa Annual Conference. A full list can be found here.

On May 23, the conference voted via Zoom to approve the resolution of disaffiliation.

Many of the congregations plan to move to the Global Methodist Church, a more theologically conservative denomination established on May 1, 2022. Ongoing debates and conflict within the UMC over sexuality and marriage were among the factors driving the creation of the new denomination.

Pastor Tom Shinkle who leads Grand View Church in Dubuque told KWWL his congregation began considering disaffiliation last fall and was motivated by more than just the debate over homosexuality.

“We’re tired of spending time, effort and energy fighting and arguing about same-sex weddings and LGBTQ-plus clergy. It just was never our issue here at Grand View,” Shinkle said.

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“Our issues have more to do with leadership and theology and some of the procedural things like the trust clause,” he said. “All of our property is held in trust for the Iowa annual conference, as opposed to the church owning it and being able to make decisions about our building and our land.”

Iowa UMC Bishop Kennetha J. Bigham-Tsai expressed sadness over the group of churches leaving the denomination. “But it was our intent to allow churches, that had duly voted to leave, to do so in a spirit of grace. It is now time to move on and do the ministry to which we have been called and to be vehicles for healing within the Iowa Annual Conference.”

At this point, nearly 4,000 churches have voted to leave the UMC—over 10% of its total congregations—most of them in 2022 and 2023.

One of the most prominent UMC leaders, Bishop Scott Jones, announced he would join the Global Methodist Church. Before retiring, he led the Texas Annual Conference, which has the largest contingent of churches leaving the denomination.

Earlier this month, a judge in Georgia ruled that the UMC “has an affirmative duty” to assist churches wishing to disaffiliate. That was after 185 churches in the North Georgia conference had sued the UMC for the right to leave.

However, in April, a judge in Florida dismissed a lawsuit brought by over 100 churches in that state who wished to immediately disaffiliate from the UMC.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.