by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Thirty-one North Carolina United Methodist Church (UMC) congregations which oppose the denomination’s stance on LGBTQ issues have threatened legal action if they are prevented from exiting the UMC immediately and without having to follow a 2019 approved disaffiliation plan which some churches say is onerous, Religion News Service (RNS) reports.
Wishing to join the new conservative Global Methodist Church denomination, the 31 churches hired the National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL) law firm to make their demand to the Western North Carolina UMC conference. The NCLL sued the Florida UMC conference last month on behalf of 106 Florida churches seeking disaffiliation for the same opposition to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ people.
In response to the 31 churches, the Western North Carolina Annual Conference said in a letter that it would not allow the demand as, according to the disaffiliation plan approved by a special session of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in 2019, exiting churches are required to pay two years of apportionments and pension liabilities. According to the Western North Carolina Annual Conference website, “significant issues” would be created for the denomination if churches suddenly leave without making the payments.
However, some churches, especially small, rural churches included in the North Carolina group of 31, say the disaffiliation process is “onerous, and in many cases, prohibitive,” RNS reports.
According to the North Carolina churches, the UMC’s Book of Discipline provides an alternative exit path for congregations wishing to leave and join another evangelical denomination: under this path, annual conferences can instruct the board of trustees of a church to deed that church’s property to other Methodist or evangelical denominations in certain circumstances, RNS said.
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