You could almost hear the sighs of relief from many local Methodist when the news broke. They finally had the vote on same sex marriage and gay clergy in the UMC. I was tired of hearing about it and the fact they put it to a vote says a lot about where they are as a denomination. I do rejoice that those measures were voted down, even if it was by a slim margin of 53% to 47%. The fact remains that if they only polled the American UMC, the issue would have passed. The only thing keeping the Methodist on a somewhat conservative course are the African churches who provided the votes to put it down. This vote highlights one of the major differences between Baptist and Methodist. That difference is local church autonomy. Each Baptist church is independent of other Baptist churches. If every other Baptist church votes to dye their hair green and only eat pancakes on Sundays. We wouldnât care, we can do what seems best to our church without their interference. Matters of doctrine should never be decided by popular vote. They must be settled by Biblical critique. When the denomination holds the keys to your church building, picks your pastor and sets the salaries... Well, you have to do what youâre told. The real problem on the horizon for conservative Methodists is not âifâ but âwhenâ the liberals take over. They will be forced to go along with these new homosexual views or they will be forced out of their churches. I firmly believe the doctrine of local church autonomy is the main reason why Baptist (for the most part) have remained so conservative for so long. Every time a denomination turns to liberal ideas, their numbers go into decline. With church autonomy, a single church may elect to adopt these views without dragging the rest of the churches with them. People from other faiths often ask me âDid you here what âMr Big Name SBC Spokesmanâ said? How will that affect your church?â My answer is always the same, âIt wonât affect us at all because we donât support them and they canât tell us what to do.â The only people we are accountable to are the members of our church. My fear as a Baptist is not that the SBC president will approve of gay marriage or that he will promote gay preachers. That wouldnât sway our church in the least. My fear is that Baptist preachers will not teach their flocks about local church autonomy. Over time Baptist will lose their ability to govern themselves and seek to follow popular trends and public opinion instead of the doctrines they were built on. In the coming years they will look to a group of experts in an office somewhere to decide whats best for them. When we cave to centralized power, SBC will stand for Soon Becoming Catholic.