GREENSBORO, N.C. — Representatives from the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church met on Nov. 19 during a special conference to announce that dozens of churches are no longer affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
The 249 requests for disaffiliating arose after LGBTQIA policy concerns arose about same-sex marriages and other related guidelines.
As of right now, this slew of disaffiliations applies to some Methodist churches in Alamance and Caswell counties.
The process for disaffiliation was established in 2019 by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, according to the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church’s website.
957 church members voted to approve disaffiliations and 165 members disapproved. Before announcing the votes, Bishop Fairley asked those in attendance to do two things, hold hands and pray and not react to the reading of the vote.
Every four years elected delegates in the General Conference of The United Methodist Church hold a meeting to look over the Book of Discipline, which is sort of like a rule book.
During the meeting back in 2019, the topic of sexuality came into play which sparked a debate.
Director of Communications for The United Methodist Church, Derek Leek said, "The Book of Discipline states that everyone, all of us are individuals of sacred worth and that all are welcome in The United Methodist Church. There's another portion in the Book of Discipline that states that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and that is where people are having this divide, and so some want that strengthened and left in there and some want it removed completely."
Typically, if a church decides to disaffiliate, they have to surrender its property back to The United Methodist Church, but a new provision was made to allow churches to keep their property.
The disaffiliations were ratified back on November 19th, but each church has a series of requirements they need to meet.
One step that was already met for the 249 churches was that two-thirds of the members of a church who voted for disaffiliation had to say they supported the split.
Now this, according to The United Methodist Church, has caused some division among congregations.
Leek explained, "Some of the votes who are unanimous, they want to all leave. Some only either passed or failed by a few votes. There's deep pain and deep hurt maybe even a sense of betrayal in some of our members."
Because of this, UMC has created something called United Methodist Collective, for people who feel displaced because of the disaffiliation.
The next meeting to talk about changes to the rules will be in April of 2024.
9 churches in Alamance and Caswell counties don't want to wait on the possibility that something could be changed relating to human sexuality.
More steps are being taken to meet the requirements for disaffiliation such as:
- Taking down their signage that relates to United Methodist Church
- Paying their apportionments for this year and for the next year.
- Paying a pension liability as well as other steps about membership records, and archives and things like that
If steps are taken to disaffiliate, it will take effect on Dec. 31.
Some will choose another denomination, and some will choose to be independent or nondenominational.
We reached out to the Western Conference of UMC which includes Greensboro and Winston-Salem to see if there have been any disaffiliations in that area and haven't heard back.
About the North Carolina Conference
The North Carolina Conference is one of 54 conferences of The United Methodist Church in the United States. It encompasses 56 counties in eastern North Carolina, from Elon to the coast and from the South Carolina border to the Virginia border. The conference strives to create healthy congregations and effective leaders in every place, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.