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More than 260 Georgia Churches To Leave United Methodist Church

Congregations are leaving the United Methodist Church in protest against LGBTQ restrictions.

Hundreds of churches are leaving the United Methodist Church, with CNN reporting that 261 churches in Georgia will split from the denomination ahead of a critical deadline.

The National Methodist Church declared that congregations would have until the end of 2023 to leave due to conscientious objection to any church-rule changes “related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”

In July, NPR reported that the Methodist Church had lost about 20% of its enrolled churches over disputes about same-gender marriage and LGBTQ+ clergy. At the time, many of the congregations left because they disagreed with the lack of enforcement on conservative stances the church was taking.

According to CBS News, a majority of the 6,000 Methodist congregations that have departed the church are conservative.

A North Georgia group of churches elected to sue the conference in March so it could bring the conference leadership to the bargaining table. According to CNN, a judge in Georgia’s Cobb County ruled that a church-level vote had to take place before the Methodist Church’s deadline expires ahead of the North Georgia Conference’s vote to accept the exit of 261 churches from the United Methodist Church. 

According to CBS News, the United Methodist Church will have an opportunity to modernize its laws come 2024.

Those who departed may choose to join the Global Methodist Church, which was formed in May 2022 and firmly upholds its rules against LGBTQ+ ordination and marriage. Another option is for the United Methodist Church to split its rules about LGBTQ+ marriage and ordination between regions.

According to a study from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, the majority of churches that are leaving are concentrated in southern states.

“We decided that it was better to let the United Methodist Church go than to continue in what I would refer to as a cage fight, in which we would fight each other until we’re a bloody pulp and the church would be destroyed,” Keith Boyette, a theological conservative who is overseeing the Global Methodist Church’s transitional period, told CBS News. “I have grief that the church was not able to find its way to make decisions and abide by them that would be honoring of who the church is.”

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