Despite the increasing disaffiliations from the United Methodist Church denomination, some churches choose to stay. The First United Methodist Church in Statesboro has voted to remain to be in the UMC.
The Council of Bishops and Judicial Council Decision 1449 have established paragraph 2553 as the primary paragraph used for disaffiliation or separation from The United Methodist Church, with the recognition that other paragraphs may apply in certain cases. According to their website, United Methodist Church, Paragraph 2553 outlines the necessary steps for disaffiliation, including a two-thirds majority decision by professing members, payment of two years of apportionment commitment, and payment of the congregation's pro-rata share of the conference's pension liability based on an approved formula.
Statesboro First UMC Remains to be Affiliated
The members of the Statesboro United Methodist Church decided to remain to be with the United Methodist Church last Sunday. Statesboro Herald reported that the church council's chairman, John Ashley Welch, announced that 418 members voted for disaffiliation, 210 against, and six abstained.
However, the vote of the congregation fell just short of the two-thirds majority required for disaffiliation under the United Methodist Church's international, special General Conference in 2019. Welch urged everyone to take a few days to reflect, pray, forgive, heal, and refocus on their mission to serve and empower people to live Christ-centered lives.
It is unclear how the six who voted to abstain were credited into the final vote count as the Statesboro United Methodist Church chose to remain affiliated. In 2019, the General Conference created a "disaffiliation plan" for the Book of Discipline that allowed local churches to leave the denomination before December 31, 2023, over issues related to human sexuality. The amendment was intended to allow more progressive churches to leave the United Methodist Church over its continued traditional position. Senior Pastor of Statesboro First United Methodist, Rev. Dr. Scott Hagan, stated that their church is faithful to the United Methodist Church's doctrine, polity, and rules.
Also Read: Asbury Church to Disaffiliate with United Methodist Church Due to Disagreement on LGBTQ+ Inclusion
Recent Disaffiliations, But Some Have Yet to Release their Intentions to Leave the Denomination
The First United Methodist Church located in downtown Enterprise has decided to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and its Alabama West Florida Conference without providing a specific reason for their decision. According to WDHN, other churches in the area, including Harvest Church and Covenant United Methodist, have also chosen to leave the denomination with significant majorities.
Although the United Methodist Church has faced criticism for its prohibitions against same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy, none of the departing churches have cited these as reasons for their disaffiliation. The UMC and the Alabama West Florida Conference will vote on ratifying the decision of the departing churches during their annual meeting on May 7, 2023.
These recent disaffiliations regarding the conflict on human sexuality have been increasing, and the churches that have chosen to disaffiliate are joining a more conservative denomination that was created by some of the members of the UMC, called the Global Methodist Church.
Related Article: North Carolina Churches File Lawsuit Against United Methodist Church Over Disaffiliation Process