ATHENS, Ga. – The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to allow 261 congregations to break away from the denomination amid a schism over theological differences and the role of LGBTQ+ people in the church.
The conference ratified the disaffiliation requests of the congregations during a special session on Saturday, allowing the churches to leave the denomination, news media reports. The exit marked a “solemn day,” the North Georgia Conference of the UMC said in a news release.
The United Methodist Church has long debated its bans on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly LGBTQ+ ministers. The denomination prohibits the marriage or ordination of “self-proclaimed, practicing homosexuals,” but some American churches and pastors have defied the bans. Many conservatives have chosen to leave amid growing defiance of these bans.
So far, 7,286 congregations, many in the South and Midwest, have received approval to withdraw from the denomination since 2019, according to an unofficial tally from the United Methodist News Service. Most of the terminations, more than 5,000, took place this year.
Conservatives launched a new Global Methodist Church.