On March 25, the First United Methodist Church of Louisville, Mississippi voted 175-6 to leave the “United Methodist” organization. Going forward, they hope to be known simply as the First Methodist Church of Louisville.
Rev. Mike Childs told The Daily Wire that the departure has “really been a long time coming.” Specifically, Childs feels the United Methodist Church (UMC) has failed to correct major failings in the organization, such as the election of a lesbian bishop — something both anti-scriptural and against the rules of the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
Our church Book of Discipline, our church law says that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, yet we have a gay bishop, and a whole jurisdiction of our church in the United States — the Western Jurisdiction — that will not enforce that.
Although the refusal in some Methodist circles to follow biblical teachings on sexuality troubles Childs, there are other issues he finds even more serious, including prominent Bishop Karen Oliveto allegedly denying the deity of Christ, “calling us not to make Jesus an idol,” and Bishop Joseph Sprague, who has retired but apparently retains a voting seat on the Council of Bishops, “denying the incarnation and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
As far as the legal separation from the United Methodist Church, Childs noted that his congregation isn’t the first in Mississippi to leave. He added that they’ve been operating under a certain framework, bringing in a CPA to “do an audit of the church,” as well as getting the church appraised.
Childs said that despite wonderful local leadership, “we felt like it was God’s will that we take this step.” He added, “We have acted in good faith in this process, and the conference has acted in good faith, and we hope this will be quickly resolved.”
The official statement from Rev. Childs puts a fine period on the story. It reads in part:
While our church will no longer be a member of the United Methodist denomination, it will continue to be a Christ-centered church that is faithful to the Scriptures and the theology of John Wesley. It will forever be a Methodist Church, but not a United Methodist Church. This is not a decision based upon dissatisfaction with our fellow churches in the Mississippi Conference. We have great respect for Bishop James Swanson and the leaders of the Mississippi Conference of the UMC. Rather, this is a decision that our consciences forced us to make because the failure of the United Methodist denomination to uphold Scripture and its own Book of Discipline.
As American culture continues to pull away from its Judeo-Christian roots, more and more churches across the United States will likely have to make decisions similar to the one made by First Methodist Church of Louisville — shift along with society, or draw a line in the sand.