Divided Methodist Church: Congregations Vote to Break Away Amid LGBTQ+ Debate in Georgia

Over 250 congregations within the United Methodist Church in north Georgia have voted to break away, deepening the divide fueled by debates surrounding the LGBTQ+ community’s role within the denomination. 

Growing Divide

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The mass departure of 250 congregations adds to the growing exodus since 2019, a year that witnessed a strengthening of bans on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly LGBTQ+ clergy members.

Navigating Theological Turbulence

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The theological turbulence within the United Methodist Church has manifested in a series of disaffiliations, with the recent decision in north Georgia allowing 261 congregations to sever ties. 

Profound Disagreements 

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This rift revolves around profound disagreements over the church’s stance on same-sex marriages and the ordination of LGBTQ+ clergy. 

Internal Strife

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The departure of these congregations, leaving approximately 440 churches in the conference, underscores the gravity of the internal strife.

Solemn Day for the Denomination

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The North Georgia Conference’s approval for these churches to disaffiliate marks what the denomination calls a “solemn day.” 

Shocking Number of Departures 

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Since 2019, the United Methodist Church has witnessed the departure of a staggering 7,286 congregations out of approximately 30,000, particularly from regions in the southern and midwestern United States. 

The Mass Exodus 

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The mass exodus in 2019 followed the denomination’s reinforcement of bans that exclude same-sex marriages and clergy who identify as LGBTQ+, while many of the more conservative congregations argue this ban has not been upheld.

The Controversial Requirements 

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Much of the divide deepened after members and leaders had an issue with “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”. 

Defying Denominational Doctrine

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The United Methodist Church, grappling with internal dissent, has been tested by a growing defiance against its exclusionary policies. 

Prohibiting the LGBTQ+ Community 

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The denomination explicitly prohibits the marriage or ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” but many congregations have openly gay leaders and members.  

Dissenting Factions

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The internal divide on the exclusionary practices underscores the struggle to find common ground and a forward path as this becomes a hot button topic in both politics and theology.

Leaders Express Regret

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Bishop Robin Dease, leader of the North Georgia Conference, expressed the sorrow surrounding his own departure. Acknowledging the weight of the situation, he lamented, “I just hate that those who are leaving us – I will not have the opportunity to meet or to be with [them]”. 

Brand Restrictions

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The ramifications of this disaffiliation extend beyond theological differences. The departing congregations will be prohibited from using the “United Methodist” brand in their newly created names and logos. 

Date of Departure 

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The effective date for these departures is set for the end of the year.

The post Divided Methodist Church: Congregations Vote to Break Away Amid LGBTQ+ Debate in Georgia first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Joseph Perone. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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