A Methodist church in Arkansas has filed a lawsuit after the United Methodist Church Arkansas Conference rejected its application for disaffiliation and suspended its pastor.
According to The Christian Post, First UMC Jonesboro filed the lawsuit this week, arguing that the UMC does not have “any legal, beneficial, or equitable interest in any of the real or personal property held by the Jonesboro Church.”
“Jonesboro Church now moves to quiet title and seek a declaratory judgment from this Court affirming that Defendants do not have any right, title, or interest in its real or personal property pursuant to an alleged trust clause or equitable lien,” the suit reads, in part.
The suit names the Board of Trustees of the UMC Arkansas Conference, the Arkansas Conference and “John Does 1-100.” These groups are described as “the agents, principals, co-conspirators, and/or alter egos of one or more of Defendants and of each other, and that each such Defendant acted within the course, scope and authority of these relationships and that, as a result, each such Defendant and each of them, are jointly and severally liable for the acts alleged herein.”
The suit comes after the church voted in July to leave the mainline Protestant denomination. About 1,300 members voted, with 69 percent in favor and 31 percent against.
The disaffiliation request was rejected by the UMC Arkansas Conference in November. At that meeting, the conference approved disaffiliation votes from 35 other congregations.
Under conference rules, the church could restart the voting process and resubmit its application.
In December, the church held a second vote in favor of disaffiliation from the UMC.
The UMC regional body, however, suspended First UMC Senior Pastor John Miles, saying the meeting “was not authorized.”
“The vote, which purported to adopt new ‘bylaws,’ was in violation of The Book of Discipline and illegal according to Arkansas State law,” said Bishop Gary Mueller.
“I am deeply saddened that we find ourselves in the current situation. No one wins, and we all lose; most of all, the Body of Christ and the mission to which Jesus calls us. I want to ask you to pray that hearts of peace will prevail and a positive way forward will be found.”
Photo courtesy: ©Sparrowstock
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.