United Methodist Church Renounce Disaffiliation Process, 186 Churches Filed Lawsuit


In December 2022, United Methodist Church stopped member churches from leaving their congregation by renouncing its disaffiliation process. As a result, hundreds of churches took legal action against the regional body of the United Methodist Church.

Lawsuit Filed Against United Methodist Church

The complaint was filed by 186 churches on Thursday, Mar. 30, in Cobb County Superior Court in Marietta, Georgia, involving over a quarter of the almost 700 congregations in the North Georgia Conference, UMC News reported.

That is also the most prominent congregation that has joined forces in a single lawsuit since the church began enduring a slow-motion separation due to decades of escalating disagreement over including LGBTQ people.

The action is a response to the decision made by the leadership of the North Georgia Conference last year to stop the disaffiliation process under church law. The management cited widespread "defamatory" misinformation as the reason for their decision. The leaders stated that the conference would revisit the disaffiliation process after the next General Conference, which is the highest law-making assembly of the church and is currently slated to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, between Apr. 23 and May 3, 2024.

A report from The Christian Post stated that before the prohibition of disaffiliation was implemented in June 2022, 70 congregations, which accounted for 9% of the conference's churches and 3% of its people, severed their ties with the United Methodist Church.

By 2022, more than 1,800 churches had voted for disaffiliation, with their respective conferences accepted. The disaffiliations came about mainly as a result of the current discussion within the church regarding whether or not to permit the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of individuals in romantic relationships with others of the same sexual orientation.

Even though the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church prohibits both of these practices at present, many progressive clerics have continued to refuse to enforce the rules, and theological liberals within the UMC have been engaged in a years-long effort to change the denomination's position, but they have been unsuccessful. On the topic of LGBT rights, confident, progressive denominational leaders have chosen not to adhere to or enforce the standards of their church.

Moreover, although many congregations have been permitted to disaffiliate, others have encountered financial obstacles or had their disaffiliation votes flatly disallowed, resulting in several litigations affecting numerous conferences.

Also Read:Anglican Church in Singapore Expressed Dismay Over Church of England's Blessing of Same-Sex Marriage

Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church

According to the Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist, the Book of Discipline lays down the framework for how members of the United Methodist Church are to govern themselves. It reflects their understanding of the church and the expectations placed upon its laity and clergy as they strive to be effective witnesses worldwide as a component of the entire body of Christ.

The discipline comprises the church's history, doctrinal, constitution, standards, and mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Additionally, it consists of the practical processes through which their congregations connect and assist each other in evangelizing to the world. 

Related Article:Cornerstone Church Believes Leaving United Methodist Church Is a "Healthy Step"