The Western North Carolina Conference announced that a group of 36 North Carolina-based United Methodist churches will disaffiliate from the denomination.
According to Christianity Today, the official departure of the group, which consists of some of the biggest churches in the conference, is scheduled to take place on November 4, following a special session of the conference or regional geographic body.
The departure follows a debate that has taken place within the UMC regarding same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.
In March, a North Carolina Superior Court judge rejected the church's lawsuit in which they expressed their desire to sever ties with the denomination. However, the churches and conference continued discussions and came to a resolution last month, allowing the congregations to leave.
The plan permits churches to take their properties with them as long as they meet the required financial obligations.
The National Center for Life and Liberty, a legal ministry representing multiple UMC churches nationwide, represented the group of 36 North Carolina churches. They also won a lawsuit on behalf of 185 churches in Georgia in May.
Regarding the North Carolina Conference, the center's lead counsel, David Gibbs III, contended that several churches needed to file the lawsuit because of the difficulty behind the disaffiliation plan approved by the UMC.
Most churches who have sought disaffiliation from the denomination have followed the approved plan outlined in Paragraph 2553 of the UMC's Book of Discipline. The plan, however, is set to expire on December 31.
Since 2019, at least 233 churches have departed from the UMC's Western North Carolina Conference, a region that stretches across the western half of the state and includes 757 churches.
A spokesperson on behalf of the conference announced that an additional 100 churches, including the group of 36 churches from North Carolina, will probably leave this November.
Overall, 6,240 US churches have departed the United Methodist Church so far. While some have opted not to join a new denomination, many have chosen to become a part of the newly formed Global Methodist Church. The GMC – launched last year amid the denomination's schism over LGBT issues – is a theologically conservative denomination.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
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