Nearly 1/3 United Methodist churches approved to leave denomination in Eastern Carolina

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Over 200 congregations within the United Methodist Church in North Carolina were approved Saturday to leave the church over disagreements regarding LGBT clergy and marriage within the church.

The North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church gathered for a special called annual conference at Methodist University in Fayetteville.

The purpose of the conference was to receive requests and ratify disaffiliation for 249 churches.

“The complete process requires a two-thirds approval vote of eligible church members in each church wishing to disaffiliate and then ratification by a majority of the members of Annual Conference,” the North Carolina conference said in a press release.

The result of the conference vote was 957 yes to approve disaffiliation and 165 no.

The North Carolina Conference is made up of churches from 56 counties in Eastern Carolina.

According to the church, the 249 disaffiliating churches represent 32% of the congregations in the conference and around 22 percent of the membership.

“Rev. Dr. Smith called for a ruling by Bishop Fairley as to whether the Conference could approve disaffiliation agreements for churches that were not based on Discipline Paragraph 2553, which specifically is about disagreement on matters of human sexuality. Bishop Fairley has 30 days after the special session to make a ruling, which will then go to the denomination’s Judicial Council. The Judicial Council is the church’s highest judicial body,” the conference said.

The conference in its press release said that most of the local church votes were not unanimous.

Ratified disaffiliations are effective Dec. 31, 2022, if the church completes all parts of the agreement by that date.

For a look at the churches here in Eastern Carolina that voted to disaffiliate, click here.

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