Ivory Coast denomination becomes part of United Methodist Church

A Christian denomination in West Africa that has about 1 million members has joined the United Methodist Church.

The Protestant Methodist Church of Ivory Coast joined the U.S.-based denomination last week following a vote at the Methodists' national policy meeting in Pittsburgh.

The decision increases the American denomination's worldwide membership to about 11 million. About 8.3 million Methodists live in the United States, making their church the third-largest church in the nation.

The Ivory Coast church was formed in 1924, and left the British Methodist Church in 1985 to become autonomous. However, the West African denomination sought a new affiliation because it "wanted to be part of a more global environment, which is the United Methodist Church," said the Rev. Benjamin Boni, head of the Ivory Coast denomination.