Judge Allows North Georgia United Methodist Churches to Continue Disaffiliation Process

Flickr/ Tony Webster

Over 180 North Georgia churches have been permitted to resume the process of leaving the United Methodist Church after an abrupt halt and ensuing lawsuit.

According to the article in Now Habersham, Judge Steven Schuster of Cobb County Superior Court overturned the halting imposed by the North Georgia Conference of the denomination in late 2022 on Tuesday. According to the conference, the halt was required because widespread misinformation was endangering the legitimacy of the disaffiliation procedure. 

North Georgia Churches Can Proceed with Split from United Methodist Church

Many of the conference’s member churches may join the tide of theologically conservative congregations leaving the huge Christian denomination, according to critics who claimed the meeting was attempting in vain to retain unity as it faced a historic rift.

The article that was shared in Times Free Press says that the court’s decision enables the churches in North Georgia to quickly hold formal congregational votes on whether to disaffiliate. Wesleyan Covenant Association of North Georgia, a group that supports disaffiliation of the churches, wrote in an email on Tuesday that several specifics, such as the date of a conference to confirm disaffiliations, still need to be worked out.

The United Methodist denomination devised a procedure to regulate how congregations might leave the denomination while keeping their property after years of conflict over LGBTQ policy, which exiting theologically conservative United Methodists sometimes see as signs of more profound differences. Regional conferences like North Georgia had a lot of discretion in handling this procedure, which resulted in many lawsuits from congregations looking to leave who believed they were being subjected to unfair barriers.

However, many believed that the North Georgia Conference, which consisted of over 700 churches, had gone further than any other by entirely stopping the process. Critics perceived this as a breach of a predetermined protocol and asserted that the conference leadership thought its participants had the ability to discriminate between opposing points of view.

Also Read: 33 Churches Set to Separate from Rio Texas Conference of United Methodist Church

Other Reports Regarding the Recent Disaffiliations from the UMC Denomination

The United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the US, is going to address a divisive topic that’s dividing its roughly 30,000 churches worldwide at its branch in Pennsylvania. According to the article in Penn Live, the debate is on whether or not the denomination’s bishops should be permitted to perform same-sex weddings and whether they should be permitted to identify as LGBTQ people openly.

Due to this controversy, over 1,831 churches have decided to break up their affiliation with the denomination since 2019. The Susquehanna Conference is the most recent to discuss this issue; it has 870 churches and roughly 150,000 members; about 18% of its churches have requested a position.

The group forbids rituals honoring homosexual partnerships and traditionally sees marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. But since 2016, there has been an increasing amount of pressure on the leadership to develop a thorough human sexuality policy in relation to the LGBTQ community.

According to William Lawrence, a retired professor, and ordained UMC elder, the disaffiliation procedure does not endanger the denomination’s viability, despite generating grief and strife among churches. But he anticipates that the church will be smaller and different after this turmoil.

Related Article: Multiple Florida Churches Sever Connections with United Methodist Church Over LGBTQ+ Clergy Ordination