(UPDATED) The costs and complications of UMC disaffiliation are leaving many congregations stuck.
Editor’s note: This article was updated with new information about disaffiliations on June 16.
Carolyn Moore assumed that her Evans, Georgia, church would be one of the congregations disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church (UMC). Across the country, as of June 16, more than 5,800 churches have separated along the lines of the deep fissures in the denomination: LGBT acceptance and Methodist authority structures.
But for a long time, Mosaic UMC looked like it was going to get stuck in the UMC.
Moore, Mosaic’s lead pastor, waited for directions on the process from the North Georgia Annual Conference, the regional UMC body, which had told churches they could send notice of their intent to disaffiliate starting on January 1, 2023. But the conference paused the disaffiliation process before it began.
North Georgia leaders sent an email to pastors in December 2022 saying they had concerns that local churches had relied on “misleading, defamatory, and false statements and materials” to make their decision to leave and join a new Methodist denomination, the Global Methodist Church, calling the discourse “antithetical to the concept of a gracious exit.”
Moore said she made “a hundred phone calls in the weeks after that email, hoping for some conversation partner who might help us make a way through,” but nobody in conference leadership would step up.
To date, about 20 percent of the approximately 30,000 Methodist congregations in the US have disaffiliated. But there are hundreds more, like Mosaic, whose members want to leave but can’t.
The decision to pause the process for churches in the North Georgia Annual Conference didn’t just delay the timeline; …
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