A Painful Schism

The United Methodist Church is no longer united

Permission granted to reprint any of Wilkins’ articles. Please cite: www.MoreThanWords.global

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is no longer united.

Any schism is painful. Business partnerships. Families. Churches. And denominations. But as painful as schisms are, they can also be necessary.


To date, approximately 7,500 conservative congregations have departed the UMC (United States) in what is called a “disaffiliation” process. Most of them have joined the new Global Methodist Church (GMC) which launched May 1, 2022. Others will likely follow suit. Undoubtedly, many persons remaining in the UMC hold conservative views, but are conflicted as to what they should do.

Why the schism? Though the UMC’s Book of Discipline stated (that’s past tense) that homosexuality, “is incompatible with Christian teaching,” the actions of the liberal branch of the denomination ignored that phrase. And sure enough, during this year’s (2024) General Conference, delegates – minus the conservatives from those 7,500 churches – voted overwhelmingly to end the denomination’s ban on gay marriage and the ordination of people involved in same-sex relationships.

Conservatives correctly believed their voices were not only not being heard, but being silenced.

I understand.


When the Raleigh NC office of the UMC was creating a model for regional dialogues on the issue – that would feature panelists’ views – they invited me into their control group.  Though not a Methodist, I have preached in their churches and always been warmly welcomed. Why invite me? I had been and continue to be very public about my testimony of past homosexuality.  Of the four panelists, I was the only one who would speak from a historical biblical viewpoint, that is, if I was confirmed as a panelist. I assured them many Methodists shared my testimony, though less visible than I.

When the control group was solidifying who would be a panelist, a confirmed panelist – the mother of gay daughter – said, and this is almost verbatim, “Since Bishop (Marion) Edwards will be speaking at the dialogues from a traditional view, there’s no need for Mr. Wilkins to speak.”  A deafening silence swept across the room even as this mother, for whom my heart ached, attempted to silence my conservative voice. I thought her comment was brazen and offensive, but I displayed not a scintilla of irritation. At the time I wondered if she hoped to goad me into a spiritual spasm that would disqualify me as a panelist, but I maintained my typical gracious demeanor.  I made the cut. (There’s more to the story but it will wait for another time.)


As it relates to persons whose attractions are unwanted, I am often asked, “Just where are these persons?” as if their invisibility means they don’t exist.

Question: What’s the probability a teenage boy or girl, man or woman would speak publicly about their unwanted homosexual attractions – particularly when such persons are marginalized, derided, and silenced?

“My name is Mark and I am 16 years old,” this teenager emailed me. “For about the last 3 to 4 years, I’ve been struggling with a torturous problem. I am a homosexual.  Believe me, I did not choose to be. I am tormented constantly by this.”

Another man writes, “Tim, I’ve been struggling with same-sex attractions for at least the last 12 years. I’ve been miserable. I don’t know what caused me to have these desires, but I don’t want them.”

Those emails are the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

A poor track record

I received the following email from a teenage Philippine boy, reprinted here in its original form with only slight edits for understanding.

“my paster went on stage and started insulting n joking abt homosexuals. everyone was laughing. I didn’t think it was funny but I followed them and laugh – cuz I don’t want them 2 think I’m a gay. 2nd, my church brothers called me ‘a girl’. 3rd-’ my sherperd, the person who taught me a lot of things on christianity when I joined the church call me ‘aqua’ meaning gay. I was really hurt by that word. quite lot of people calls me that but I didnt expect my own sherperd 2 say such a thing 2 me. that’s when I decided that I was borned without a soul n I was sent in2 this world 2 suffer. god never ever wanted me as his child.”

Not only were this young man’s attractions unwanted, so was he – by his Christian brothers and sisters – unwanted.

The church’s poor track record on the issue must change.

What lies ahead?

How will Global Methodists address homosexuals and the wider LGBTQ community?

Their Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline reads in part, “While affirming a scriptural view of sexuality and gender, we welcome all to experience the redemptive grace of Jesus and are committed to being a safe place of refuge, hospitality, and healing for any who may have experienced brokenness in their sexual lives.” (Emphasis mine)

The new Global Methodist Church is to be commended for its faithfulness to Scripture. May their tribe increase!

(This article is adapted from Wilkins’ just released book MORE THAN WORDS: Walking WITH Talking AT  your LGBTQ friends. He speaks and writes from a historical biblical perspective.)

2 responses to “A Painful Schism”

  1. Peter

    Well articulated, Tim. As with God’s Word, I pray that the wisdom of what you have written will not return void.

  2. Lawrence Kreh

    Well said! It is too simple to cast universal judgement on the souls of people who struggle with same sex attraction, while being much more tolerant of other sins of equal or greater significance. We should not affirm any sinful behavior, but we should walk with people who do struggle. We do that in prison ministries, for example.

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