by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Thirty-six North Carolina congregations who are separating from the United Methodist Church have resolved a lawsuit they filed against the UMC and will now be able leave the denomination according to a disaffiliation plan approved by church leaders in 2019, the Religion News Service (RNS) reports.
To date, 6,240 US churches have left the United Methodist Church amid a major schism over LGBTQ issues. The exodus of conservative churches began when UMC leaders began to accept same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.
The 36 congregations from the Western North Carolina Conference had filed suit against the UMC, claiming the disaffiliation conditions they were told to meet were too onerous and amounted to ransom, RNS said. A North Carolina Superior Court judge dismissed the case in March, but the two sides continued talks. A formal resolution was announced in August.
In an August 24 Press statement, the Western North Carolina Conference said: “The Western North Carolina Conference and The United Methodist Church have reached a resolution which resolves all litigation pending between them by mutual agreement. The churches will disaffiliate under Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline and the Conference will work with them through the disaffiliation process so the churches have the opportunity to leave the United Methodist Church in 2023.”
The 36 churches will now be able to leave the UMC with their properties, although they still have to meet certain financial obligations, RNS reports. The churches will officially leave the denomination at a special session of the Western North Carolina Conference on November 4.
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