United Methodists in Eastern Europe, Eurasia planning to leave UMC

United Methodists in Eastern Europe, Eurasia planning to leave UMC

united methodist church
Delegates and bishops pray before a key vote on church policies about homosexuality during the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. |

United Methodists in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have begun the process to leave the mainline Protestant denomination as a wave of congregations in the United States have recently voted to disaffiliate amid a schism over homosexuality.

Delegates of the UMC Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference voted 40-20 in an online meeting last week to allow regional church bodies to take the first steps toward departing from the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

The Christian Post reached out to the conference for more information. The European church body directed CP to an article published by UM News.

They voted to allow regional bodies of Central Russia, Northwest Russia and Belarus Provisional, the Eastern Russia and Central Asia Provisional, and the South Russia Provisional annual conferences to become self-governing entities.

All four of those conferences — with 66 churches in total across Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Estonia — are led by Bishop Eduard Khegay. 

Additionally, the delegates voted down a proposal to allow regional bodies within the Central Conference to change their rules to allow the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of openly gay individuals.

“It is not necessarily a decision that is received with the same joy or appreciation by all members of the conference,” said Nordic and Baltic Area Bishop Christian Alsted, as quoted by UM News. “Nevertheless, this is the decision that we were able to make together.”

Over the past several years, the UMC has been embroiled in a divisive debate over whether to change rules outlined in its Book of Discipline prohibiting the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.

Although efforts to amend the rules at General Conference have failed, many progressive leaders within the UMC have refused to follow or enforce the standards for marriage and ordination.

For example, last November, the UMC Western Jurisdiction voted to make the Rev. Cedrick D. Bridgeforth of the California-Pacific Conference a bishop, even though he is married to a man.

In January 2020, a theologically diverse group of United Methodist leaders came together and proposed a measure in which the UMC would allocate money to form a new denomination for churches opposed to changing the rules, allowing them to join that entity as a way to end the debate.

Known as the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation,” the original plan was to have the measure passed at the 2020 UMC General Conference.

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, General Conference was postponed multiple times. Last year, the UMC announced that it would postpone the conference until 2024, prompting many churches to disaffiliate without the measure.

In May 2022, the Global Methodist Church was launched as a conservative alternative to the UMC, with over a thousand churches already joining the new denomination. In 2022, over 1,800 churches had disaffiliation votes approved by their respective UMC conferences. 

Elsewhere in Europe, the UMC Bulgaria-Romania Provisional Annual Conference voted to leave the UMC and join the Global Methodist Church last year.  

Some congregations have faced pushback from their conferences to their quests to disaffiliate from their congregations. Some disaffiliation votes have been rejected by regional conferences, while other churches have sued their conferences for what they consider to be unfair requirements for them to leave the UMC.  

Most recently, a group of 38 congregations has filed a lawsuit accusing the UMC Baltimore-Washington Conference of requiring “payment of a financial ransom” as their properties are “encumbered by an irrevocable trust for the benefit of the UMC.” 

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United Methodists in Eastern Europe, Eurasia planning to leave UMC

Nevada church to have 10K Easter eggs dropped from helicopter

Element Church Easter Egg Hunt
A helicopter drops thousands of Easter eggs for Element Church’s annual Easter Egg Hunt at McNair Stadium in Forest City, North Carolina. |

A predominantly Hispanic congregation in Nevada will celebrate Easter Sunday with an egg hunt that will feature around 10,000 Easter eggs, with several thousand being dropped from a helicopter.

Aguilas Centro Familiar Cristiano Church of Las Vegas plans to hide and also have a helicopter drop around 10,000 eggs at the backlot area of their soccer courts on Easter Sunday, which will fall on April 9.

An ACFC representative emailed The Christian Post information about the egg drop on Tuesday, explaining that the “main focus” at their church “is God and people.”

“As Christians, we believe Easter Sunday is an important opportunity to deliver the message of the gospel to as many people as possible. This is the main purpose of this event, to provide an opportunity where families can have fun, enjoy and experience the power of Easter,” the representative stated.

This will be the first time that the church will be doing an Easter egg drop, with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns interfering with their plans in previous years.

“Now after Covid and with all the necessary precautions we are adding the egg drop to enhance the experience for our children in the community,” the representative stated.

In addition to the egg drop, the church plans to hold two worship services on Easter Sunday, with one being at 9:30 a.m. and the other at 11:45 a.m.

ACFC is not the first church to host an event in which large numbers of Easter eggs were dropped on a field by a helicopter, as other congregations have done similar events around Easter.

Last year, for example, the multisite nondenominational 7 Hills Church in Kentucky hosted multiple egg drops after services on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, dropping approximately 200,000 Easter eggs in total.

Although Easter egg hunts are generally considered a secular activity, the ACFC representative told CP that they believed that the event was “opportunity to share the Gospel.”

“We are having a small theatrical production, music and adding the egg drop as part of the experience, but the main goal has been, is and will continue to be sharing the gospel and the good news that the death and resurrection of Jesus brought to humanity,” the representative said.

The representative cited 1 Corinthians 9:23 as justification, which reads “I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”

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United Methodists in Eastern Europe, Eurasia planning to leave UMC

Catholic bishops condemn gender transition surgeries as contrary to the 'created order'

USCCB says Catholic hospitals shouldn’t provide chemical, surgical interventions

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Catholic Bishops meet at the start of an afternoon session during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Annual Spring Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia, June 13, 2012. |

The governing body of the Catholic bishops in the United States has labeled gender transition surgeries as contrary to the “created order” ordained by God and proclaimed that Catholic hospitals must not perform them.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine released a “Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body” Monday. The document began by noting how “modern technology offers an ever-increasing range of means — chemical, surgical, genetic — for intervening in the functioning of the human body, as well as for modifying its appearance,” describing its role in curing “human maladies” as a “great boon to humanity.”

The statement clarified that modern technology has also led to the creation of “interventions that are injurious to the true flourishing of the human person,” asserting that “careful moral discernment is needed to determine which possibilities should be realized and which should not, in order to promote the good of the human person.”

The document cited an understanding of “the created order inscribed in our human nature” as a necessary tool for such discernment.

“A crucial aspect of the order of nature created by God is the body-soul unity of each human person,” the document stated. “Throughout her history, the Church has opposed dualistic conceptions of the human person that do not regard the body as an intrinsic part of the human person, as if the soul were essentially complete in itself and the body were merely an instrument used by the soul.”

The lead signatory on the document is USCCB Committee on Doctrine Chairman Bishop Daniel Flores of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville in Texas.

Additional signatories include Bishop Michael Barber of the Diocese of Oakland, Auxiliary Bishop Richard Henning of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinate of the Chair of St. Peter, Auxiliary Bishop James Massa of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Archbishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

According to the bishops who signed the document: “The soul does not come into existence on its own and somehow happen to be in this body, as if it could just as well be in a different body. A soul can never be in another body, much less be in the wrong body. This soul only comes into existence together with this body.”

The statement quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which declares that “Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. ‘Being man’ or ‘being woman’ is a reality which is good and willed by God.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith insists “the importance and the meaning of sexual difference, as a reality deeply inscribed in man and woman, needs to be noted.”

“In our contemporary society there are those who do not share this conception of the human person,” the bishops noted. “Pope Francis has spoken about an ideology that promotes ‘a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female’ in which ‘human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.”

The bishops criticized “attempts to alter the fundamental order of the human body” and “the range of technological interventions advocated by many in our society as treatments for what is termed ‘gender dysphoria’ or ‘gender incongruence.'” 

“These interventions involve the use of surgical or chemical techniques that aim to exchange the sex characteristics of a patient’s body for those of the opposite sex or for simulations thereof,” the document reads.

“These interventions are intended to transform the body so as to make it take on as much as possible the form of the opposite sex, contrary to the natural form of the body. They are attempts to alter the fundamental order and finality of the body and to replace it with something else.”

The bishops called out chemical puberty blockers as an example of “a wide range of interventions” used for the purpose of “transforming sex characteristics of the body into those of the opposite sex,” stressing that all interventions used for such a purpose “do not respect the fundamental order of the human person as an intrinsic unity of body and soul, with a body that is sexually differentiated.”

The bishops argue that gender transition services disregard “the fundamental order of the human person,” declaring that “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether chemical or surgical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures.”

In a recent interview, Pope Francis denounced “gender ideology” as “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations.” He condemned the ideology for “diluting the differences” between men and women, contending that it “goes against the human vocation.”

Debates about the morality of gender transition services have engulfed American politics. Many critics have highlighted concerns about the long-term impact of chemical and surgical gender interventions on minors. 

More than half a dozen states have implemented bans on some or all gender transition procedures for minors: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. Practices covered by the bans include the prescription of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children as well as gender reassignment surgeries.

The American College of Pediatricians has warned that the side effects of puberty blockers can include “osteoporosis, mood disorders, seizures, cognitive impairment” and sterility while cross-sex hormones can cause “an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, blood clots and cancers.”

Life-altering procedures can also leave behind emotional scars. In a lawsuit against the doctors who treated her gender dysphoria as a minor, 18-year-old detransitioner Chloe Cole is blaming the suicidal thoughts and deteriorating state of mental health she experienced as a teenager to her double mastectomy.

Cole, whose gender dysphoria has now subsided, maintains that despite assurances that “the distress she experienced because of her gender dysphoria would resolve as she transitioned,” she found that her “distress always came back worse” following the “initial relief” that occurred after “each phase of transition.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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United Methodists in Eastern Europe, Eurasia planning to leave UMC

Churches more prepared for financial hardships after pandemic: survey

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After enduring the COVID-19 pandemic, a larger share of churches in the United States is more financially prepared for hard times than in 2016, according to a new study from Lifeway Research.

On Tuesday, Lifeway released the findings of a 2022 survey of Protestant pastors who were asked about their congregations’ financial stability.

Data for the survey was drawn from a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors conducted from Sept. 6 to Sept. 30, 2022, with a sampling error of +3.2%. The results were compared to a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors taken Aug. 22 to Sept. 16, 2016.

Forty-four percent of pastors who knew how many weeks of cash reserves their church has said it was less than 16 weeks, which marks a decline from 50% in 2016.

The share of pastors who said their cash reserves were seven weeks or less declined from 26% in 2016 to 20% in 2022, while the number of pastors who said their churches have cash reserves for 16 to 51 weeks increased from 27% in 2016 to 32% in 2022.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of pastors said their churches have 52 weeks or more of cash reserves, which remains statistically unchanged from 2016 (23%).

Lifeway Research Executive Director Scott McConnell said in a statement that whenever “hardships impact an organization, financial leaders carefully watch how much cash is on hand and how quickly they are spending it.”

“Very rarely does cash stop coming in completely, though some churches experienced that for a few weeks in 2020,” stated McConnell, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures.

“But hardships such as a financial recession can impact church receipts and force the use of cash reserves to get by. While improved, there are still too many churches with too little money in the bank given the uncertainties of 2023.”

The 2022 survey also found that nearly a third (31%) of pastors did not know their church’s cash reserves. 

African American (52%) and Hispanic pastors (35%) were more likely than white pastors (17%) to report having seven or fewer weeks of cash reserves.

Methodist (30%), Pentecostal (25%) and Baptist (23%) pastors were more likely to say that their churches have between “Between 0 and 7 weeks” of cash reserves. Non-denominational pastors (34%) and Christian/Church of Christ (34%) were the most likely to say their churches have 52 weeks or more in cash reserves. 

Additionally, pastors at churches with attendance of 100-249 (20%) and 250+ (25%) were most likely to say their churches have “between 16 and 25 weeks” of cash reserves than those at churches with attendance of 0-49 (12%). 

Over half (58%) of pastors say that their churches have had a complete financial audit within the last two years, with 47% saying their churches had a financial audit in the last year. 

“Some state laws require that nonprofit organizations of a certain size file audited financial statements, but most churches have an option,” McConnell explained. “Many congregations prefer to have this review to ensure that financial processes are being followed and that trust is maintained.”

Eight percent of pastors reported that someone had embezzled funds from their current church, which is about the same rate as it was in 2016 (9%). McConnell notes that the “misappropriation of funds is more likely when an organization lacks necessary processes so that multiple people are aware of every expenditure before it is made.”

Last October, Lifeway released a report which found that a little over half of Protestant pastors believed that the economy had negatively impacted their church, with only 7% saying that the economy had positively impacted their church.

The number of respondents on the October report who believed the economy was “somewhat negatively” impacting their churches rose from 34% in 2021 to 45% in 2022 but was below what was reported from 2007 to 2014, when around half of the pastors held a negative view of the economy’s impact on their churches.

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Renewal of Purpose – First15 – March 23

Renewal of Purpose – First15 – March 23


Renewal of Purpose

Weekly Overview:

One of the best aspects of spending time alone with God is being renewed daily by his word and presence. When we make space for God in our lives, especially at the beginning of the day, he is faithful to renew and prepare us for all we will face out in the world. Scripture says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Where do you need renewal? How greatly do you need God’s mercies in your life? He has a plan this week to both teach and guide you into an encounter with him that will renew you with his overwhelming goodness and love. Make space for God. Make time to encounter him. And experience the refreshing spring rain he longs to bring to heal the dry and weary places of your heart.

Scripture:“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” John 15:16


You and I were born with a deep desire to live with purpose. As children, we dream of doing something significant with our lives. We dream of being a person who makes a difference in the world. Inherent in all of us is a longing to make a deep and lasting impact. Our longing for purpose only becomes a problem as we begin seeking out its source. Most of us live our lives in constant pursuit of finding out why we’re here, seeking the answer to the question: “What am I uniquely made for?” And we look for the answers in all the wrong places. We look for our purpose in each other, in the ever-changing whims of society, or internally, in what seems to make us feel good in the moment. But God has a better purpose for our lives than we could ever find in the world. He has a purpose so great, so powerful, and so lasting that when we get a glimpse of it, we will forever be changed. God has a page in his grand narrative written just for you, to use you to make a unique and eternal impact on the earth.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Let us not miss the importance of what God would reveal to us today because we’ve heard something before. Instead, let’s dive in deeper and see what God’s word would reveal to us about that purpose. In John 15:16 Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” You are chosen by God. You aren’t secondary to someone else in God’s kingdom. He has formed you and chosen you to “go and bear fruit.” And Jesus desires that our fruit would “abide.” He has chosen you to make a lasting impact on the earth.

So, what lasting fruit does God intend for you here? Answering this question should start with the words of Jesus. Allow God’s commandments to lay the defining foundation of your purpose. In response to the question of what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replies, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). Your purpose here on earth is to love God and love others. God has chosen to use love to bring about salvation. He’s chosen to use love as the catalyst for spiritual awakening. It’s love that is God’s driving force, and it’s love that he longs to instill in us as our highest goal. Understand today that you are formed and called to love above all else.

Scripture also tells us that we have been chosen to be carriers and ministers of the kingdom of God. Jesus said in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” God’s kingdom is here on earth. And Revelation 5:10 says, “You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” We are not purposed to merely suffer and wait for heaven. God’s kingdom is here on earth, and we are his workmanship. We are his priests. Acts 26:16 says, “Rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.” Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Your life here is of eternal value. A life spent simply waiting for heaven is a life wasted. God has placed an eternal purpose on your life, a purpose meant to be pursued and lived out every minute of every day. You don’t have time to waste. And the compelling truth is, you will never be satisfied until you devote your life to ministering this incredible gospel of restoration and love. Until you pursue seeing God’s kingdom come through your job, relationships, and time, you will never experience the joy and passion only God’s purpose can bring you. God doesn’t have a cookie-cutter mold he tries to fit all believers into. He’s formed you for a specific and unique purpose no other believer will be able to accomplish. His plans for you are your own and no other’s. So choose today to live your life for your heavenly Father. Work with him in all that you do. Love him and others with every fiber of your being. And experience the joy of making a deep, eternal impact with all that you do. May God renew your sense of purpose today as you enter into a time of guided prayer.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on God’s desire to use you for an incredible purpose.

“And you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” John 15:16

2. Reflect on your own life for a moment. In what ways have you been living out of a purpose other than God’s? Confess those sins to your loving heavenly Father. Let his forgiveness transform your heart.

3. Now commit your life to God’s plan and purpose. Choose to love with all you have today. Line up your heart with God’s word, and pursue the life he has in store for you. Give him your job, your family, and finances. Ask him how he would have you use them.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.” Acts 26:16

What will God say about your life when you get finished here? Will your life have been spent in pursuit of him and his kingdom or in building up a small kingdom here that will pass away like the changing of seasons? Will your life be of fleeting or eternal impact? Only you can choose how you will live your life. May you make the choice today and every day to live the only life that truly matters. God has incredible plans and purposes in store for you if you will simply open your heart and your hands to him and say, “Use me.”

Extended Reading: John 10:1-19

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