Over 100 Florida churches file suit against United Methodist Church over LGBTQ stance

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – The United Methodist Church (UMC) is being sued by 106 Florida churches that want to leave the denomination because of its progressive stance on LGBTQ marriage and clergy but do not want to pay the exit payment requested to take their properties with them, CBN News reports.

The UMC has already split over the LGBTQ issue when breakaway churches formed a new conservative denomination called the Global Methodist Church earlier this year.

The 106 churches are filing suit to leave the Florida Conference of the UMC immediately, CBN reports. According to the lawsuit, UMC leadership are not following the Book of Discipline which sets out the denomination’s beliefs and doctrine and deals with ownership of church properties.

Filed by lead plaintiff Grace United Methodist Church in Lawtey, the lawsuit claims the UMC demanded a large exit payment, something which is deemed unfair and unacceptable, CBN reports. “{The Florida} Annual Conference has taken the position that it is entitled to keep {Grace United Methodist Church’s} Property—which was owned and paid for . . . long before The UMC and the Annual Conference ever existed—unless Grace . . . pays a substantial payment of money as unilaterally determined by the Annual Conference Defendants,” the lawsuit says.

The suit also charges that UMC Bishop, and head of the Florida Conference, Kenneth Carter, violated the Book of Discipline by not disciplining an openly gay bishop and a progressive reverend in St. Petersburg, CBN reports.

In a statement, Bishop Carter said: “We are deeply grieved by this, as we seek to be a church united in love and in mission…The Florida Annual conference is committed to providing a ‘gracious exit’ for those churches that wish to depart, pursuant to our common process outlined in The Book of Discipline, and have been trying to engage those churches in that process.”

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