2 UP churches disassociate from United Methodist Church of Michigan based on disagreements about LGBTQ+ inclusion

Two congregations in the U.P, one in L'Anse and another in Iron Mountain, are among those disassociating.
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 5:57 PM EDT
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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - A rift in the United Methodist Church of Michigan is causing 60 out of the 721 state congregations to disassociate from the main body. Two of those churches are in the Upper Peninsula.

This was voted on at the annual Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church near Traverse City last week.

The conflict reportedly stems from a rift over LGBTQ+ inclusion in the church.

Among those who are separating from the larger entity are two churches in Upper Michigan, the United Methodist Church of L’Anse and the First United Methodist Church in Iron Mountain.

Byron Sailor, the lay leader of the L’Anse congregation, said his congregation has decided to branch off because he believes the main body of the church is being influenced more by society and less by bible teachings.

“We feel a major portion of the United Methodist Church is pulling away from the Bible teachings,” said Sailor. “They’re moving more towards society ideas and social issues, rather than following what has been said in the Bible, what the Bible is teaching us. That is the main reason.”

Sailor said pastors are stating that anyone can go to heaven, rather than solely through Christ, which he said goes against doctrine.

He also said the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people is only one reason his congregation is leaving.

“That’s what attracts the media and everybody else,” continued Sailor. “They target that. But that’s only one issue. More like a minor issue compared to getting away from the basic Bible teachings. "

Meanwhile, the First United Methodist Church in Hancock has embraced the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the church and remains affiliated with the larger church.

“We believe that everyone is created in God’s image,” said Hancock First United Methodist Church Pastor Scott Lindenberg. “And that image includes males and females, but also people of genders, and gender is a complex issue. We see God’s choosing and gifting and blessing of people who don’t fit those standard, binary gender roles.”

Lindenberg said not all congregation members are on board with LGBTQ+ inclusion, but they can still all come together.

“We may not all see things the same,” added Lindenberg. “And yet we say ‘We can all still work together and worship together and bless one another as we move forward.’”

Sailor said congregations like the one in L’Anse that have disaffiliated are looking to join the Global Methodist Church.