AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 400 Texas churches voted this weekend to cut ties with the United Methodist Church (UMC) after decades of disagreements over stances on issues like same-sex marriage.

Members of the Northwest Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church gathered Saturday for a special session, where 145 congregations agreed to leave or “disaffiliate” from the denomination. This includes churches stretching from West Texas to the Panhandle.

On the same day, the Texas Annual Conference met at a church in Houston, and that ultimately resulted in 294 of its 598 member churches across east Texas deciding to officially leave, too.

It’s believed many of these churches will join the more conservative breakaway denomination, the Global Methodist Church.

These breaks hardly surprised Texas religious scholars, who largely anticipated such moves to happen. In more recent years, the divisions formed on either defying or abiding by UMC’s bans on same-sex marriages and ordaining openly LGBTQ clergy. The denomination has repeatedly upheld these bans at legislative General Conferences, but some U.S. churches and clergy have decided to go against them.

“In this case, where you see churches leaving the United Methodist denomination, those conservative churches that are leaving are in a sense to uphold what they see as Biblical principles that have been challenged or attacked by culture,” Chad Seales, a religious studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “whereas progressives see themselves as being more open and more welcoming of persons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”

Seales said these latest tensions are a continuation of political patterns that emerged before the 1980s.

“What we see after the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movements and legal terms after the 60s and 70s is institutions realigning themselves to either be relevant to culture, and that’s what progressives saw themselves as doing — or liberal Protestants and mainline Protestants — is to keep the church relevant with culture. They didn’t see that as antagonistic to religious identity,” Seales explained. “Conservatives saw the changes at the federal level as antagonistic to their religious identity.”

Rev. Teresa Welborn, the senior pastor at University United Methodist Church in central Austin, said there are no plans for her congregation to disaffiliate, and she added she feels “grief and sadness” for the people in other Texas communities whose churches made a different decision.

“I wonder and I worry about, for persons who either identify as queer or persons who are allies and seeking a more progressive congregation, where do they find a faith family?” Welborn said.

The UMC Book of Discipline, which lays out the denomination’s doctrine, currently states the church should “define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” It also reads, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The UMC denomination is now fracturing over whether its congregations should abide by that language. Austin’s University United Methodist Church is not following that guidance, and Welborn hopes the UMC will soon change its stances on the LGBTQ community.

“I think it’s very painful that the Book of Discipline since the early 70s — pretty much my whole life — the Book of Discipline has used the word ‘incompatible’ to talk about some of God’s children,” Welborn said. “We just think that that’s wrong in our wrestling and understanding of Scripture and in our interaction with so many people that are members of the LGBTQIA community. They’re members of our congregation. They’re giving of their time, talent and treasure, and, yeah, we want it to change.”

The Methodist groups in Texas can get a little confusing, so it’s important to remember only the Northwest Conference, covering West Texas and the Panhandle, and the Texas Annual Conference in East Texas have held votes for congregations to leave the UMC. For those Northwest congregations, their relationship with the UMC will end on December 31.

The two UMC conferences that touch the Austin area have not held votes like these yet. Austin churches are included in the Rio Texas Conference, while the Central Texas Conference stretches down to Williamson County.