Greater Houston pastors weigh in on mass exodus of Texas UMC congregations

Several Greater Houston pastors expressed their opinion on the recent mass exodus of congregations from the UMC denomination. Image: Wesley Tingey

Some pastors in the Houston area and neighboring Texas cities said the recent spike of UMC congregations leaving the long-established Methodist fold was something that was necessary to 'move forward.'

Burt Palmer, the pastor of Kingwood Methodist Church, told CBN News that he had been a UMC member for as long as he could remember. Palmer admitted that his church's decision to leave UMC was a difficult one.

'Brutal, But Necessary'

Pastor Palmer told the news outlet that he and other Texas pastors view the option of separating from UMC as a necessary move to help their respective congregations move on and move forward.

"It's been brutal – that's the word – brutal. It was not an easy decision," CBN News quoted Palmer saying.

The news outlet disclosed that many Houston UMC congregations comprise the over 500 Texas UMC churches that have severed their ties with the United Methodist Church over key doctrinal and policy issues.

For one, Palmer explained that the UMC's decision to adopt policies that favor LGBTQ interests served as a dealbreaker for him and his church members.

"The culture we're in, it seems as if a lot of clergy feel as if they should be able to practice their sexuality whatever way they desire and the church should have no bearing on that. We just don't believe in that," Palmer said.

Meanwhile, Houston suburb's Friendswood Methodist Church Executive Pastor Howard Huhn explained that leaving UMC "was both easy and the hardest thing I've ever done."

Huhn said he felt there would be no place for him in the UMC with how it had been handling issues lately, such as the pro-LGBTQ track the denomination has opted to tread. 

The UMC's General Council on Finance and Administration disclosed that over 1,800 UMC congregations had left the denomination beginning in 2019. Consequently, the newly-established Global Methodist Church (GMC) has welcomed over 1,200 new Methodist churches since May of 2022.

Many churches that left UMC and transferred to GMC did so because they strongly disagreed with how the church leadership handled member churches' concerns. Some, like Rev. Keith Boyette, who currently serves as GMC's Transitional Connectional Coordinating Officer, argued that they saw no potential resolutions to the ongoing conflicts within the UMC.

"It came into existence because it became clear that the conflict in the United Methodist Church was not going to be resolved. The energy of the church was increasingly dominated by dealing with this conflict. That impacted the message of the church, the witness of the church. That witness became very confused," Reverend Boyette told CBN News.

About Friendswood Methodist Church

According to its website, the Friendswood Methodist Church in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land area is proud of its Wesleyan heritage.

The church's leaders include Executive Pastor Huhn, Senior Pastor Rev. Jim Bass, and Missions and Outreach Pastor Rev. Sam McRae.

The church worships every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. in its worship house at 110 N. Friendswood Dr. 

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