BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Ninety-five Louisiana churches split from the global denomination on Saturday over theological differences over how the denomination views homosexuality and whether gay people can be ordained or married.

A special session of the Louisiana Annual Conference was held Saturday, May, 27 at First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. The entire meeting was to vote on the state board of trustees’ recommendations for the churches that requested disaffiliation. The deadline to disaffiliate is Dec. 31, 2023.

The church’s statement on human sexuality states that sex is only affirmed within monogamous, heterosexual marriages.

“The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,” the statement reads.

The church is also clear that human and civil rights and the ability to live free from violence should not be tied to anyone’s sexuality.

After the session, Bishop Delores J. Williamston offered a message to churches that decided to leave and those that are staying in a video online.

“Those who decided to leave, based on disaffiliation and have disaffiliated that they go and have success in whatever God is calling them to do in the mission field. That they will find peace and hope wherever they are.

I’m also so excited about putting this behind us as an annual conference so that we can move forward into the mission field to make disciples of Jesus Christ as United Methodist believers and disciples in the United Methodist Church.

And so, I am excited and hopeful about what is going to happen and what already is happening in the places that we haven’t had a really – an opportunity to talk about. Sunday school classes meeting to stay together because they wanted to stay United Methodists. There are other ideas to form a new church in some particular areas or class meetings like back in the old days when Methodism was a movement.

So I’m excited about that, and the ideas of strengthening some of the local churches in some of the local areas that have been hit hard by the disaffiliations but strengthening those churches and those people in those locations to let them know that ‘Hey, we the Louisiana Annual Conference, we’ve got your back. We see you and we want to work alongside you, and we’re going to be there.”

Bishop Delores J. Williamston

Dozens of other churches in Louisiana already have undergone the disaffiliation process.

You can watch the entire meeting or see the complete list here.