I was a Methodist from 1996-2006 or so. Back before any of the mainline denominations were really officially ordaining or marrying LGBTQ folx. We worked to try to change that, but conservatives poured a lot of money into changing the UMC from a social gospel church into something more authority-driven. Between those changes and generally having less and less interest in a literal god or constant re-interpretations of stories from thousands of years ago, we eventually left the denomination.
It was sad to see so many other denominations modernize and adapt and see the UMC stuck in a morass of bigotry. I know people who have stayed in that denomination, and I find it hard to understand why, just as I’ve always found it impossible to understand why a feminist would stay Catholic. Religion doesn’t exactly promote consistency, I guess.
Now it seems there is finally a plan to split. I am pleased that it is the bigots who have to walk away. It’s indicative of the change in our culture that theirs is the minority position overall. Of course, mainline Protesant denominations are bleeding membership anyway; whatever message they are conveying is not bringing new people to the pews.
Institutions tend to grind down individuals. That’s just the nature of large groups, I don’t think there’s a structural way around it. So maybe our religious tendencies should not be played out primarily in institutional settings. Jesus certainly never intended to set up an institution, and his teachings pretty well contradict any kind of institutional authority. But I guess we’ve learned precious little over the last two thousand years. Good thing Jesus isn’t really coming back or he’d be mighty disappointed. I think we’d all be going with the goats, considering his fabled bad temper.