ATHENS, Ga. — The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church has voted to allow 261 congregations to break from the denomination amid a schism over theological differences and the role of LGBTQ+ people in the church.
The conference ratified the congregations’ demands for disaffiliation during a special session Saturday, allowing churches to leave the denomination, media reports. The release marks a “solemn day,” the UMC’s North Georgia Conference said in a press release.
The United Methodist Church has long debated its ban on same-sex marriages and the ordination of openly LGBTQ+ clergy. The denomination prohibits marriage or ordination of “practicing and avowed homosexuals”, but some American churches and clergy have defied these 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 permission to disaffiliate from the denomination since 2019, according to an unofficial tally from the United Methodist News Service. Most of the disaffiliations, more than 5,000, took place this year.
Conservatives launched a new worldwide Methodist Church.