YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — While only three churches in the tri-county area have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church, others in the region are likely to follow.

According to the Associated Press, The United Methodist Church is one of several mainline Protestant denominations in America that are splitting up over sexuality and theology.

At issue are the denomination’s bans on same-sex marriages and ordaining openly LGBTQ clergy, and the affiliated churches that ignore it.

The denomination has repeatedly upheld these bans at legislative General Conferences, but some U.S. churches and clergy have defied them, so some want to disaffiliate for the newly created and conservative Global Methodist Church, where they are determined to maintain and enforce such bans, the Associated Press reported.

Locally, the former Boyce UMC in East Liverpool; Bristoville UMC in Trumbull County; and North Bloomfield UMC, also in Trumbull County, have disaffiliated, according to Rick Wolcott, executive director of communications for the East Ohio Conference, The United Methodist Church.

Rev. Abby Auman, Mahoning Valley District Superintendent, added that as of June 30, 2022, 13 churches of the more than 600 in the East Ohio Conference have disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church by vote of the Annual Conference.

The East Ohio Conference includes a large swath of Northeast Ohio from Huron County south to Coshocton and east from Ashtabula County to Jefferson and Guernsey counties.

“The Conference office does not have information about the next steps those congregations may have chosen following their disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church,” Auman said.

The Associated Press reported that 300 of the 800 churches in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference had inquired about the process of leaving by the end of 2023, according to the Wesleyan Covenant Association.