During the 2022 South Georgia Annual Conference session, clergy and lay members voted on several matters related to disaffiliation.
On Monday afternoon, June 6, Conference members approved a report from the Conference Trustees in which a process was affirmed that extends the terms of South Georgia’s current disaffiliation policy through December 31, 2024.
Already voted on and approved by the Trustees, the resolution states, “the Trustees wish to provide a means for local churches desiring to exit the denomination on the terms outlined in ¶2553 after the expiration of ¶2553.”
With the further postponement of General Conference to 2024, the Trustees believe it is important to give South Georgia congregations additional time to pray, discern, and make decisions, said Dr. Jimmy Asbell, chair of the Conference Board of Trustees.
“It was the intent of the Trustees to prevent an unpredictable or unanticipated closing of a window and force a church to make a decision it was otherwise not prepared or not desiring to make,” he said. “We didn’t want time to be the deciding factor but wanted to give congregations time to make informed, prayerful decisions. If us honoring the terms a year longer does that, we think that’s in the best interest of the Conference.
“This action is to reduce the fear or the need to make a decision based on incomplete information,” said Dr. Jimmy Asbell, during the Trustees report.
In addition, 18 South Georgia congregations disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church: Antioch, Barney, Claxton, Friendship (Bacon Co), Grace (Tift Co.), Kirkland, Laurel Branch, Liberty, McBride, Mizpah, Naylor, Park Avenue, Reidsville, Springfield, The Pointe, The Porch, Trinity (Seminole Co), Turkey Branch.
Provisions passed at the called 2019 Special Session of the General Conference and two policies passed during the 2019 South Georgia Annual Conference session – a Disaffiliation Policy and a Pension Liabilities Proposal – laid the groundwork for the churches to disaffiliate.
After the conference approved the disaffiliation of the 18 churches, Bishop David Graves offered a prayer of thanksgiving for each church and its ministry.
It read, in part, “We feel sorrow in your leaving, yet we rejoice with you in anticipation of this new phase of your life. We will miss your love and support, yet we know you will add much to the lives of those who will be your new church family, as you have added much to our lives.”
Per the policies adopted, once each congregation pays their pension liabilities, their two years of apportionments, and the legal fees involved, they will be released from the trust clause and will own their property.
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