Nine South Georgia congregations have disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church.
In nine separate votes - one per church - Recommendation 5 passed, which allows the churches to disaffiliate from The UMC “for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of The Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference, or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues.”
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.
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.
“Seeing faithful United Methodist congregations disaffiliate brings me personal sadness,” said Rev. David Thompson, dean of the Cabinet and superintendent of the Coastal District. “Last year we lost seven congregations; this year we lost nine. We certainly send them forth with our love and prayers, but it’s a sad parting. I believe if we stay together, we can as the Annual Conference discern the way for us to faithfully be the people called Methodist, staying true to our 285-year legacy in South Georgia.”
The Conference is allowing congregations to discern and follow the path to which they hear God’s call, without rancor, said Conference Treasurer Dr. Derek McAleer.
“While we do not wish any church to leave, we understand that some may feel this is their course,” he said. “They go under the minimum terms set by the General Conference. And they go with our blessing.”
After the conference approved the disaffiliation of Homeland United Methodist Church, Wesley Oak United Methodist Church, Pine Hill United Methodist Church, Bethel United Methodist Church, Gibson United Methodist Church, Marvin United Methodist Church, Mitchell United Methodist Church, Mt. Moriah United Methodist Church, and Providence United Methodist Church, Bishop Bryan offered a prayer of thanksgiving for each church and its ministry.
“We are thankful for their history in the South Georgia Conference and we honor them for that, for their faithfulness, for the way they have sought to be in ministry with the other churches of our conference, and also as they now disaffiliate, we thank you that they are not disaffiliating from our hearts, from our affections, and from our goodwill. We continue to count them as brothers and sisters in Christ.”
For full Annual Conference coverage, visit www.sgaumc.org/annualconference.