261 GA Churches Leave United Methodist Church in Ongoing LGBTQ Schism
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The exodus continues from the United Methodist Church (UMC) amid a schism over theological differences and the role of LGBTQ+ people in the church.
The UMC has been accelerating its moves to become more accepting of LGBTQ lifestyles, despite biblical prohibitions, leading to deeper divisions and more departures from the denomination.
The North Georgia Conference of the denomination ratified the disaffiliation requests during a special session on Saturday to allow 261 congregations to leave the denomination. The departing churches total more than one-third of the 700 churches in the conference.
The churches' exit from the UMC marked a "solemn day," the North Georgia Conference said in a news release. The congregations will have an additional 30 days to fulfill the terms of the agreement between the UMC and the churches, including financial and other obligations.
The conference also said the disaffiliation requests of four other churches to disaffiliate were not approved but didn't say when those requests would be reconsidered.
A total of 186 congregations had sued the conference for the right to have their disaffiliation requests heard, CBN News reported in April. A Cobb County judge agreed "a church-level vote" must take place before the deadline, according to CNN.
According to The UMC Book of Discipline paragraph 2553, any "decision to disaffiliate" from the mainline denomination "must be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the professing members of the local church present at the church conference."
The churches will officially leave the denomination at the end of the month.
The UMC forbids the marriage or ordination of practicing homosexuals, but some churches and clergy have defied those bans. This has caused many conservative congregations to leave the denomination. Some of those congregations have joined the Global Methodist Church (GMC), which began operations in May. The GMC said in July it was comprised of nearly 3,000 congregations.
As CBN News reported earlier this month, one of the largest United Methodist (UMC) congregations in Mobile, Alabama, along with seven other UMC churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference officially disaffiliated from the UMC.
The splintering of the UMC, the second-largest denomination in the U.S. with 6.5 million members, is ongoing as thousands of local churches have left their regional conferences.
So far, 7,285 congregations have received approval to disaffiliate from the UMC since 2019, according to an unofficial tally by United Methodist News Service. The churches completed the required steps to withdraw under paragraph 2553 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
But that exit policy only applies to congregations in the U.S. and will expire at the end of the year.
Most of the disaffiliations, more than 5,000, occurred this year.
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