The July 2022 decision of a Jonesboro-based United Methodist church to sever ties with the mother church over a disagreement with matters of sexuality has left a gaping void in its members' spirituality.
According to the report by KATV.com, the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Jonesboro voted to disaffiliate from the denomination due to the church's beef over several sexuality-related issues.
The move did not occur overnight, as it became the congregation's decision following months of intense debates.
The news outlet bared that FUMC moved to break away from the UMC family over its discontent with the congregational stand on sexuality.
"It is both not being allowed to perform same-gender weddings, not being able to have same-sex weddings on United Methodist property, or not ordaining self-evaluated homosexuals," UMC Arkansas Conference Administrative Services Director Todd Burris told KATV.
Consequently, the church's historic structure in the downtown Jonesboro area would be up for keeps in favor of the church.
Unlike in other denominations where the mother church retains control of properties used by disaffiliating congregations, the 2019 amendment to the United Methodist Book of Discipline meant that FUMC gets to continue possessing its building.
This setup meant that the Methodist denomination only held FUMC's church building as a trust. The report said that this option is set to expire in December 2023.
After this period, churches that would sever ties with the mother church would no longer be allowed to keep their buildings and similar properties.
Also Read: Almost 60 Churches in Louisiana Disaffiliate with United Methodist Church Denomination
'Lot of Heartaches, Hurt Feelings'
Director Burris acknowledged that church members of congregations within the UMC that had decided to break away are the ones most affected by such decisions.
"On opposite sides and there is going to be a lot of heartaches, and a lot of hurt feelings," Burris explained.
He added that the FUMC vote to disaffiliate was a rushed decision, which caused the congregation to overlook critical aspects.
"We do not know who as a member of the church, we do not how many people were added last minute," Burris lamented.
Most FUMC members who refused to support the decision to break away from the Methodist denomination call themselves Stay UMC. Dr. Holly Hall is one of them.
"If the disaffiliation is allowed to move forward, then the group that is currently there in that building that is wanting to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church gets the property and the assets," Hall told KATV.
She is just one of the FUMC members who have worshiped at FUMC for many years. She lamented that many in the church had voted to leave the UMC fold, as showed by the 944 to 412 favoring the disaffiliation move.
Dr. Hall and others at Stay UMC will troop to Hot Springs for the Nov. 19 ratification of FUMC's disaffiliation. The group said they wanted to ensure that the rest of the congregation would hear their opinion on the matter.
Dr. Hall bared that whatever the outcome of the Nov. 19 event, she does not consider going back to FUMC due to the schism that the disaffiliation call had caused.
"Hope there are folks inside that building that voted to stay with the building, and we will join with them and start a new, strong, and vibrant Methodist church," Hall told KATV.
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