About 261 congregations disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church on Saturday after the decision was approved by the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“I realize how sad this time is for many, including myself,” Bishop Robin Dease, the conference leader, said. “I just hate that those who are leaving us, I will not have the opportunity to meet or to be with.”
The decision follows a schism in the UMC in recent years when it comes to the blessing of same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. Both practices are forbidden in the UMC’s Book of Discipline.
Multiple churches have voted to depart from the UMC following a decision in 2019 in which congregations are allowed to leave by the end of 2023 “for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”
Last year, a number of theology-conservative congregations departing from the UMC formed the new denomination, Global Methodist Church.
According to the UMC’s website, more than 6,000 congregations out of 30,000 in the U.S. have received approval for disaffiliation since 2019.
Meanwhile, the 261 churches that have left the UMC’s North Georgia Conference make up a considerable percentage of its nearly 700 churches, the conference website states.
“In what was a solemn day, members of the 2023 North Georgia Annual Conference ratified the disaffiliation agreements of 261 churches at a Special Called Session,” the conference said in a press release.
Per CNN, The departure of the churches is scheduled to go into effect this December.
“In December, approximately 440 North Georgia Conference churches will continue the work of fulfilling the mission of the United Methodist church in our communities and beyond,” the conference said.
As part of the disaffiliation agreement, churches that leave the UMC are no longer allowed to use the word “United Methodist” in their name or the denomination’s logo. They must also meet financial obligations and are forbidden from seeking further litigation against the conference.
The disaffiliation from the North Georgia Conference also follows the departure of 193 congregations from the UMC South Georgia Conference in May.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
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