(Submitted photo)
(Submitted photo)
On Jan. 1, the Methodist Church at 133 E. Walnut St. in Hillsboro is starting a new chapter of its history. The church has been a United Methodist Church since the beginning of that denomination in 1968. This fall, the members of the church voted with a 79-percent majority to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church.

At a later vote, the congregation decided to join the newly forming Global Methodist Church effective with the new year. By making this decision, the congregation agreed to pay over $147,000 to be freed from the Trust Clause which held all property and assets for the United Methodist denomination. The congregation now owns all property and assets free and clear from such obligations.

The reason most in the congregation voted to disaffiliate was a widespread feeling that the United Methodist Church no longer reflected the congregation’s beliefs and values. The church raises issues with the United Methodist Church about its understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, the unique nature and personhood of Jesus as the Son of God and failure to enforce the standards of The United Methodist Book of Discipline.

The congregation believes that the governance of the United Methodist Church is a broken system where bishops, pastors and congregations act in ways contrary to the agreed-upon standards without any means available of holding them accountable.

The move to become a Global Methodist Church is motivated by a desire to be in a healthy system that reinforces the importance of believing in and living by the Bible. The congregation wishes to live out the mission of the Global Methodist Church, which is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly and witness boldly.” The church believes that a vibrant expression of the Wesleyan understanding of grace and accountability is its unique contribution to the larger presence of Christian churches in Highland County.

The church is excited about being in a new, vital, growing movement of Global Methodist churches from around the world. They now have an opportunity to help shape the new denomination as it forms, because they are in the first wave of churches joining that movement.

The Hillsboro congregation is one of 80 that disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church in the West Ohio Conference on Nov. 19. Of that group of churches, roughly half have decided to band together in the Global Methodist Church. There will be more waves of churches that leave The United Methodist Church by summer.

Plans are in place for a Provisional Conference of the Global Methodist Church in this region, which will include all of Ohio and the western half of Pennsylvania. The Hillsboro congregation is testing the waters so that other churches can learn from their experiences and benefit from them. The hope is that many will check out what the church has to offer and join in days to come.