On Monday, Mountain Brook’s Canterbury United Methodist Church voted to remain in the United Methodist Church (UMC) and not follow the over 500 traditional Methodist churches in Alabama, choosing to leave the denomination over its embracing of progressive policies.

The vote was in line with Mountain Brook's discernment team, which recommended the over-4,000-member congregation stay in the UMC.

Though the UMC split has generally revolved around social issues, namely homosexuality, some traditional methodists have suggested the divide is even deeper and fundamentally has to do with underlying theological debates about the authority of scripture and the divinity of Jesus Christ.

The Canterbury Discernment Team did not take a position on same-sex marriage. Instead, it acknowledged the issue was “complex” and has been widely debated.

Canterbury senior pastor Rev. Keith Thompson wrote in part to members of the church on Tuesday, "Last night – Monday, June 12 – the Church Council voted to accept the Discernment Team’s unanimous recommendation to remain a local congregation within the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church by a vote of 87 in favor of the recommendation, 21 against the recommendation and 2 abstentions."

"This journey has not been easy. It has tested us in ways we did not expect," he continued. "But, as with any journey worth taking, our faith in God and trust in Jesus have only grown deeper. This occurred for one reason and one reason only – the Holy Spirit has been working, is working now, and will continue to do a great work through the people of Canterbury UMC. I have seen and heard this truth in the faces and prayers of my fellow Discernment Team members, and I have seen and heard this truth from many of you as well. I am grateful for the Discernment Team’s faith and integrity throughout this process, and I pray that you will extend your heartfelt gratitude as well."
"It is now time for us to move forward with care and compassion for one another. It is time for us to go about the work of sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, it is time for all of us to embrace a life of discernment, where we open ourselves to the Spirit’s work. I hope and pray that the Spirit will continue to mold us into genuine disciples of Jesus Christ," Thompson added.

Will Blakely contributed to this article.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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