AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – After weeks of meeting for services and bible study at The Craig Senior Living Center in the wake of a number of churches disaffiliating from their denomination, members of the Amarillo United Methodist Community Group will share space with St. Luke Presbyterian Church to host services beginning this Sunday.
According to an announcement from Gary Pitner, the chair of the Amarillo United Methodist Community Group, the two separate denominations will come together to share facilities in the Sanctuary of St. Luke’s at 3001 Bell St. in a move “harkening back to the Amarillo faith community when it first started in the 1880s.” Pitner noted that the Amarillo UMC will host its services at 9 a.m. and St. Luke will host its own services at 11 a.m.
Noted in Pitner’s announcement and throughout previous reports on MyHighPlains.com, most of the Methodist churches in the Amarillo area joined over 400 Texas churches in leaving the United Methodist Church in December 2022, including 145 congregations from the Northwest Conference encompassing areas like Abilene, Amarillo, Big Spring, and Lubbock. The recent fractures were reported to have been predominantly triggered by disagreements surrounding whether the UMC should adjust the language in its doctrine to recognize same-sex marriages and affirm LGBTQ+ identities.
In the wake of the split, Pitner said that “a group of community members who felt displaced after their respective churches voted to disaffiliate began a new venture,” meeting at the senior living center in February. Shortly afterward, representatives from St. Luke’s invited the group to share space.
“It is a unique partnership happening not only between our two groups but a unique example for the church community in the City of Amarillo to witness,” said Pitner, “We look forward to building a long-standing relationship far beyond the sharing of the building as we both move into our futures as part of the faith community in this city.”
The Presbyterian denomination has historically seen similar splits among congregations to the recent splits from the UMC. Noted by official denomination websites and reports from other religious organizations, the Presbyterian Church (USA), or PCUSA, and the Presbyterian Church In America, or PCA, are the largest Presbyterian denominations in the USA and have doctrines that differ from one another on social issues such as divorce, abortion, and LGBTQ+ identities.
Amarillo’s St. Luke’s is noted to be a part of PCUSA, according to its website, which professes beliefs including welcoming and affirming LGBTQ+ identities. The UMC professes a doctrine with similar stances on social issues.