Published: Friday, Aug. 20th, 2021
A historic church in Delaware proudly announced it’s separation from the United Methodist Church this month, in response to the denomination’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordination for openly gay church members.
Groome Church’s congregation, first established in 1904, prides itself on maintaining open minds and open hearts. And the Lewes-Rehoboth area of the Cape Region, where the church is located, is one of the fastest-growing LGBTQ communities in the country.
Groome finalized its decision to leave the UMC in a unanimous vote last June, and all remaining ties have now been cut.
Rev. Dr. S. Willard Crossan III, Groome’s Pastor, described the church’s disaffiliation in a Business Wire press release as “an extraordinary opportunity to put into practice our congregation's long-held beliefs that diversity and inclusiveness are the hallmarks of God's plan for history."
“UMC has wrestled with this issue for 50 years, but has repeatedly failed to come to a meaningful resolution. The LGBTQ community is an important and vital part of the greater Lewes-Rehoboth community in which we live; its members are part of our daily life; they are our friends, neighbors, family members, the people we worship with, choose to love, to marry, to do business and play sports with.
How can we reconcile the posture of the denomination with our conscience, the calling of our congregation, our ministry, and the commandment of love we believe to be the heart of the gospel? We can’t.”
The UMC’s current official policy states that: “the church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,” and Methodist pastors may not be “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” or conduct same-sex weddings. And any ceremonies celebrating same-sex weddings are not allowed on church property.
Groome’s departure reflects increasing dissatisfaction within the UMC, and increasing acceptance toward LGBTQ+ families amongst many of its members. Love Prevails announced its own split from UMC this June, and a growing number of large progressive churches, including megachurch Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco and HopeGateWay in Portland, Maine, have also parted ways in recent years.
Intense division within the Methodist Church over the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals will be discussed at length during a special conference scheduled next year, and to explore the possible division of the UMC into two distinct denominations.
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