First Church and The United Methodist Split

Over the last several years, the United Methodist Church (UMC) has been dividing. Since 2019, more than 7,600 US churches have “disaffiliated” from the UMC, which means they have left the denomination, some to become independent, others to affiliate with other Methodist denominations. Among these is the Global Methodist Church (GMC), launched in May of 2022, which as of January 2024 now counts some 4400 congregations. Sexuality and marriage have been the trigger issues for this division, but most parties agree that the division goes deeper than that, rooted in a widening theological gulf between conservatives/traditionalists and progressives/liberals.

For churches like ours, which have theologically diverse memberships, the unfolding division has posed unique challenges. In 2022, our Administrative Council created a “Task Force on a Third Way” charged with exploring whether there can be a creative way forward to keep our congregation together, perhaps involving a semi-autonomous status.

This process, which culminated in the fall of 2023 with two days of meetings called a “Deliberative Forum,” was led by a consultant and friend of the congregation, Dr. Stephen Medvic. About 30 members, chosen to represent the range of views in the congregations deliberated for two days in November on our future, decided not to take any major action at this time but to remain in the UMC and await developments, especially the results of the 2024 General Conference.

Below are resources designed to help you understand what has been happening in the wider world of United Methodism and our church’s response to it.

Briefing Document:  This was prepared to help prepare participants in the Deliberative Forum. It provides concise general background on the United Methodist division, and possible options for our church.

Download Briefing Document

Deliberative Forum Report: This document, prepared by Dr. Medvic, relates the results of the Forum.  It also includes the results of our congregation survey conducted in late summer of 2023. 

Download Forum Report

Congregational Meeting

This is the recording of the congregational meeting led by Pastor Joe DiPaolo regarding the outcome of the 2024 United Methodist General Conference.  


“The UMC Split”


Different Views on the Split:

This was an informational event held at Good Shepherd UMC in February 2023 to introduce people to the history and issues facing the UMC from two perspectives. The presenters are Rev. Joe DiPaolo and Rev. John McEllhenney. 

NOTE: As in the video above (UMC Split), the numbers cited here are out of date, but the content remains relevant. 


Video Series: UMC: Adam Hamilton (Centrist/Progressive) & Rob Renfroe (Traditionalist)

The 4 videos below present different perspectives from two leading voices nationally.

Video Series: “Considering Charlotte”

Pastor Joe is part of a panel discussion in a series of videos which began airing in January 2024, discussing the issues and recommendations coming before the General Conference of 2024 to be held in Charlotte, NC on April 23rd-May 3rd.  They will be released about once a week. Click Here for the general site.

General Resources:  

  1. People Need Jesus/United Methodist Fallout. This is a huge archive of articles, videos, and other information from all perspectives:
  2. UMC Website:
  3. GMC Website:
  4. EPA UMC Website:
  5. “Two Methodisms” Chart, comparing the UMC and GMC, available at

For more information, contact Pastor Joe DiPaolo at  or call (717) 394-7231, ext. 3308