The historic church at the head of Texas Street in downtown Shreveport, voted to leave the United Methodist denomination. First United Methodist Church in Shreveport joins close to 90 other churches across the state of Louisiana voting to disaffiliate from the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.
KTBS reported that close to 900 church members gathered at the Shreveport church at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday to cast their vote on whether to stay or leave the United Methodist denomination. Although vote totals were not revealed, church members were notified a little before 5:00 p.m. that the vote to disaffiliate had passed. Disaffiliations require that at least two-thirds of members present vote to disaffiliate.
Why Are Churches Leaving the Denomination?
According to Christianity Today, the First United Methodist denomination has lost over 1,800 churches across the country over differences in beliefs about sexuality. That's about the most benign way to say it. The congregations that are leaving oppose measures promoted by the more left wing of the denomination including same sex marriage and ordination of openly gay clergy.
There will be a special session of the LCUMC on May 27, 2023 where conferees will vote on whether to allow FUMC, along with two dozen other churches, to disaffiliate. If the measure passes, FUMC will be an independent Methodist church beginning May 31, 2023.
“We will remain a Methodist church. We will be First Methodist Church of Shreveport,” FUMC Senior Pastor Steven Bell told KTBS.
Following the vote, the LCUMC issued the following statement:
"Today, First United Methodist Church, Shreveport voted to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. A resolution requesting to disaffiliate must now go before the Louisiana Conference for final approval. A special session will convene on Saturday, May 27, 2023, in Baton Rouge, for the sole purpose of voting on disaffiliation resolutions. Our prayers continue for the congregation and the community as they navigate the days ahead."
One of the questions about leaving was the fact that the First United Methodist Association may own all the buildings at the head of Texas Street, but according to an agreement drafted in advance of the vote, the Shreveport church will retain ownership of all the buildings in downtown.
Despite the departure of First United Methodist Church downtown, the United Methodist denomination is still maintaining a presence in Louisiana, with close to 400 churches across the state, including Broadmoor and Noel United Methodist churches here in Shreveport.
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