The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church voted Saturday to accept the decision of 261 congregations to leave the denomination over a divide on LGBTQ issues. “I realize how sad this time is for many, including myself,” said Bishop Robin Dease, the leader of the conference. “I just hate that those who are leaving us, I will not have the opportunity to meet or to be with.”
The churches are breaking from the UMC after a 2019 decision by the national United Methodist Church to allow congregations to leave by the end of 2023, “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.”
Des Moines’ NBC affiliate reports:
Nearly 60 Iowa churches are parting ways with the United Methodist Church. In a special session, the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church approved disaffiliation agreements with 59 churches who asked to leave The United Methodist Church.
The churches follow 83 others who left the United Methodist Church for similar reasons earlier this year.
The disaffiliation process is outlined in Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline, which is the rule book for the United Methodist Church. The exit agreement for all the churches cites homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The departing churches will no longer be allowed to use “United Methodist” in their names.