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Park Avenue United Methodist Church

Pastor: Theological Differences At Heart Of Split

Sunday Worship Service | March 20th, 2022

Terry Richards | The Valdosta Daily TimesPark Avenue United Methodist Church in Valdosta voted Wednesday to leave the Methodist denomination.

VALDOSTA Its time to shake hands and wish each other well.

So said Jimmy Towson, senior pastor of Park Avenue United Methodist Church, over his congregations decision to leave the United Methodist Church denomination.

The decision was taken in a vote by the church membership Wednesday evening. Towson said 96% of those voting wanted to leave the larger church organization.

While this was not an easy decision, it will allow the Park Avenue family to move past the denominational struggle and focus our attention on helping people move closer to Christ without the distractions that have plagued the UMC for the last several years, according to a statement from Park Avenue UMC.

While there was a combination of reasons for the split, Towson said the main problem was theological differences between the Valdosta church and the larger group.

A more progressive movement and their approach to tenets of faith differ from what the local church believes, Towson said. We dont agree with efforts to water down the truth of Gods word.

The differences include views on biblical authority, the divinity of Jesus Christ and his virgin birth, he said.

A longtime debate in the national church over LGBTQ inclusion was not a major point of debate in the Park Avenue churchs decision, Towson said.

We love everybody, he said.

React to this story:

The Park Avenue United Methodist Church In The City Of New York Celebrates Its 180th Anniversary This Year The Church Was Incorporated Under The Name Methodist Episcopal Church In Yorkville On March 10 1837 By Three Circuit

Originally part of the Harlem Mission circuit, the Park Avenue United Methodist Church was established and incorporated under the name Methodist Episcopal Church in Yorkville on March 10, 1837, by two circuit riders on the mission, Daniel De Vinné and John Luckey. When the Harlem Mission circuit was established in 1831, schoolhouses and private homes were used for public worship. Rev. Ira Ferris, the first circuit rider on the Mission, noted that the transient nature of the population in Yorkville, at that time a rural village centered at 86th Street and Third Avenue, had prevented the establishment of a permanent society. In 1837, when Rev. De Vinné was appointed to the Harlem Mission circuit, meetings in Yorkville were held in a rented room in the second story of a private house, over a rum-selling grocery opposite Hazards Tavern on Third Avenue.

The first building of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Yorkville, a wooden structure, was purchased from a parish in the Bowery, disassembled, moved uptown, and reassembled on 86th Street. That structure was demolished in 1858 and a new brick edifice, dedicated on January 30, 1859, was erected in its place.

In 1954, the Church purchased a warehouse in Franconia, Virginia as an investment. When the U.S. Government purchased it from the Church in 1966, the Park Avenue Methodist Church Trust was created. Today, the income from this Trust benefits the work of Methodism in the New York City area.

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