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United Methodist Church of Ivory Coast leaves denomination over changes in marriage definition

The United Methodist Church’s largest international division, the United Methodist Church of Ivory Coast, has opted to leave the denomination. This decision comes in the wake of the Church’s groundbreaking move to redefine marriage and lift longstanding restrictions on LGBT clergy members.

At its General Conference last month, the UMC voted to redefine marriage and allow “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” to serve as ministers. This move also eased curbs on same-sex marriages. The newly implemented rules apply to the Church in the US, where approximately half of the UMC’s 10 million members are based.

The departure of the United Methodist Church of Ivory Coast, which has been part of the denomination for over 20 years, signifies a significant shift in the international religious landscape, as it represents around 12% of the UMC’s membership.

Citing “reasons of conscience before God and His word” as their primary motivation, the Ivorian conference argued that the UMC’s doctrinal changes “deviate from Holy Scripture”. They further claimed these changes sacrifice the UMC’s honor and integrity to favor the LGBT community.

As the Church continues to grapple with issues of inclusivity and scriptural interpretation, the departure of such a significant fraction of its membership marks a critical turning point in the denomination’s history.