Largest United Methodist Church in Michigan disaffiliates due to congregation’s relationship with LGBTQ+ community

United Methodist Church is one of the largest of the Protestant denomination

(Thomas Peipert, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CALEDONIA, Mich. – The largest United Methodist Church in Michigan has voted to leave its denomination after a half-century-old debate over the congregation’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

Cornerstone Church, based in Caledonia, Michigan, announced the decision to become independently affiliated on Sunday.

“We are grateful for the United Methodist Church.” Said Cornerstone Lead Pastor Ken Nash in a statement, “While our hearts are heavy today, we believe this is a healthy step for Cornerstone as we navigate ministry in these complex times.”

The United Methodist Church is one of the largest of the Protestant denomination. According to Cornerstone Church, over seven million people are members of the sect, and 120,000 of those members are Michiganders. The church has two satellite campuses in Grand Rapids and according to its release, has an estimate of more than 2,000 people each week at worship services.

The church stated that since the United Methodist Church’s formation over half a century ago, the church’s beliefs and relationships with the LGBTQ+ community have always been up for debate. The church say the root of the debate and its conflict is how members of the congregation interpret the Bible and its readings.

“The General Conference, the highest decision-making body of The United Methodist Church, provided for congregational disaffiliation in light of our long debate.” Said Michigan Bishop David Alan Bard, “Cornerstone Church has been faithful in following that process and has come to this decision to disaffiliate. Any separation in the church is painful for all involved.”

A more conservative denomination called the Global Methodist Church was founded in the spring of 2022. This more conservative denomination urged churches across the states to leave the newer denomination if they wanted to. According to the Cornerstone Church, seven churches in Michigan have left the Global Methodist Church, and another two dozen are attempting to leave by June. Currently, there are 721 United Methodist churches in Michigan.

Nash confirmed in a statement that Cornerstone Church has no plans to join Global Methodist Church.

“In the long run, all churches seek to be in ministry for Jesus Christ, offering hope and healing and seeking justice and reconciliation.” Said Bishop Bard, “I wish Cornerstone and its leaders well as they move into a new chapter of their ministry. I also pledge to work with any in the church that wishes to continue to be part of a United Methodist congregation.”

About the Author:

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.