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31 UMC churches in NC demand immediate exit from denomination, threaten lawsuit

(RNS) Thirty-one United Methodist churches in western NEW YORK are demanding they be permitted to leave the United Methodist Church and also have hired a Florida legal firm to push their claim forward.

The National Center forever and Liberty sent a letter to Bishop Ken Carter, who oversees both denominations Western NEW YORK and Florida annual conferences, to request they preserve documents along with other communications should case be filed.

Exactly the same firm also sued the Florida Annual Conference with respect to 100 churches desperate to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church last month.

RELATED: A lot more than 100 Florida churches file lawsuit to leave United Methodist Church

Legal action or the risk of legal action represents a fresh strategy with respect to churches that are looking to join the brand new Global Methodist Church, a fresh denomination launched largely over differing beliefs concerning the ordination and marriage of its LGBTQ members.

An attorney for the Western NEW YORK Annual Conference, which includes a lot more than 1,000 congregations, taken care of immediately the letter, saying it could not comply because the request will not follow the disaffiliation plan approved by way of a special session of the United Methodist Churchs General Conference in 2019.

That plan allows churches to leave the denomination through the finish of 2023. They are able to take their properties using them after paying 2 yrs of apportionments and pension liabilities.

The majority of the 31 churches seeking an instantaneous exit are small, rural congregations, in accordance with Carter.

Up to now, the Western NEW YORK Annual Conference, which spans 44 counties in the western end of hawaii, has approved the disaffiliation of 18 churches following approved plan. In Florida, 14 of the conferences 700 churches requested disaffiliation and were permitted to leave as of this summers annual conference meeting, based on the bishop.

Bishop Ken Carter. Photo via

Bishop Ken Carter. Photo via

All represent a small amount of the churches in both conferences, he said.

We have been seeking to do that work in a manner that encourages every church to stay in the United Methodist Church, Carter said.

Should they really do need to depart, you want to do that in ways thats honorable. We’ve also made the appeal that not become about misinformation and false witness, he added.

In a post Wednesday (Aug. 17) on the Western NEW YORK Annual Conference website, Carter said churches leaving suddenly without paying apportionments and pension liabilities can make significant issues for all of those other conference.

If you ask me, thats a matter of fairness, he told Religion News Service.

However, many churches claim the disaffiliation process approved by the denomination is onerous, and perhaps, prohibitive.

THE GUTS forever and Liberty didn’t immediately react to a obtain comment.

And churches just like the 31 in Western NEW YORK say a paragraph in the denominations Book of Discipline provides another exit technique for congregations desperate to join another evangelical denomination. The paragraph allows annual conferences to teach the board of trustees of a church to deed that churchs property to other Methodist or evangelical denominations using circumstances. But an attorney for the Western NEW YORK Annual Conference argued that exit strategy can’t be used before denominations top court, called the Judicial Council, approves it.

The United Methodist News Service has documented several additional lawsuits that churches have brought against their annual conferences over disaffiliation. They include three congregations in Missouri and something in Wisconsin.

The biggest United Methodist church in the Atlanta metropolitan region also remains locked in lawsuits using its annual conference, the North Georgia Annual Conference. Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia, announced its plans to disaffiliate this past year, pointing to conflict using its bishop on the reassignment of its pastor and the direction of the United Methodist denomination.

Meantime, the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a network of theologically conservative Methodist churches, has asked United Methodist churches to withhold apportionments from 19 annual conferences it believes are making disaffiliation difficult to impossible, including Florida.

RELATED: WCA calls on conservative churches to withhold dues from United Methodist Church

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