Where will they go on Sundays?
Published 11:18 am Wednesday, October 12, 2022
What’s going to happen now?
That is the question some First United Methodist Church of Washington congregants are trying to answer as they make their exodus from the church.
On Oct. 3, 421 congregants voted on whether to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church (UMC) – 295 voted in favor, but 126 voted to remain. While some say the choice to disaffiliate came down to proper implementation of biblical doctrine and rules from the UMC’s Book of Discipline – others believe the choice was about human sexuality. Specifically, allowing gay marriages to be performed in UMC churches and allowing gay members of clergy.
A faction of UMC churches who do not share the same progressive beliefs have splintered off to join the Global Methodist Church – a new denomination that operates similarly to the UMC, but is more traditional in their beliefs. The Global Methodist Church was formed six months ago. Churches who choose to join the Global Methodist Church have an exit plan from the UMC that will be complete by December 31, 2022; however, congregants who wanted their church to remain with the UMC are having to make their own arrangements about where they will worship.
On Thursday, Oct. 6, 25 First UMC congregants gathered to discuss where they would like to attend. They mentioned attending Ware’s Chapel in Washington who will remain affiliated with the UMC. Most of those who attended on Thursday night were in favor of joining another church like Ware’s Chapel.
“[Ware’s Chapel] has opted to remain a member of the North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church unlike most of our congregations in Beaufort County,” Charles Michael Smith wrote to the Daily News. He is a retired UMC minister who has had a lifelong connection to First UMC. “It has an excellent Pastor, Leslie Mills, who was a social worker before her call to ministry…The members were warm and welcoming when about 30 guests from First UMC arrived for worship on October 9. And its location just a mile north of Washington-Warren Airport on North Market Street Extension makes it easy to find in an inviting pastoral setting.”
“We believe the Holy Spirit is leading us to consider partnering with this church as we live out our belief in Christ’s Resurrection & his promise to raise us with him. It’s a truly exciting prospect,” Smith said.