261 North Georgia congregations leave the United Methodist Church

Members of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church gather in Athens on Saturday, Nov. 18, to vote on the disaffiliation requests of 265 UMC churches. (North Georgia Conference photo)

Fifty-seven area churches will leave the United Methodist Church at the end of this month. They’re among 265 congregations in North Georgia and metro Atlanta that voted to disaffiliate from the denomination largely due to a split over LGBTQ issues.

Members of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church ratified the disaffiliation requests of 261 of those churches on Nov. 18 during a special called session at the Classic Center in Athens.

“I realize how sad this time is for many, including myself. I just hate that those who are leaving us, I will not have the opportunity to meet or to be with,” said conference leader Bishop Robin Dease.

Conference members did not ratify the requests of four congregations following discussion by members of the Annual Conference. Those churches are The Fountain UMC at Sugarloaf in Duluth, McEachern Memorial UMC in Powder Springs, Trinity UMC in Rome, and Griffin First UMC.

A ‘solemn day’

The 261 churches that are leaving the conference account for a sizable percentage of its nearly 700 churches. Their exit marked a “solemn day,” church leaders said in a news release.

The disaffiliations become effective on Nov. 30. After that, the departing churches may no longer use the “United Methodist” name nor the denomination’s logo. They will have 30 days to fulfill their financial obligations to the UMC, including purchasing church property if their congregation chooses to keep it. And they’re prohibited from pursuing further litigation against the conference.

Hundreds of congregations in Georgia and across the country sued for the right to have their disaffiliation requests heard.

The church disaffiliations in North Georgia come after 193 congregations once belonging to the UMC South Georgia Conference left the denomination in May, also due to the ongoing debate over LGBTQ issues.

A church divided

In 2019, the United Methodist Church strengthened its bans on gay clergy and same-sex weddings, prompting a backlash from more progressive congregations. Some churches viewed the measures as punitive and discriminatory and left the denomination because of them. Many progressive UMC church leaders refused to enforce the rules. That, in turn, upset the more conservative congregations. They’re now leaving the denomination because of its failure to uphold the church’s stated belief that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Bishop Robin Dease, leader of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. (Conference photo)

As of early August 2023, over 6,200 of the UMC’s 30,000 congregations in the United States had been approved for disaffiliation since 2019, according to the UMC’s website.

In a briefing ahead of the Nov. 18 vote, Bishop Dease told conference members, “This is a difficult season in the life of the church and we all are grieving, and yet we know who the healer is.”

“I just want you to be reminded and to please know and to be assured that the sun will rise on November 19,” Bishop Dease said. “And on December first and on January first, and on each of those mornings, like every morning, I will give thanks for the United Methodist Church and our connection.”

The North Georgia Conference followed Dease’s lead in looking ahead to the future.

“In December, approximately 440 North Georgia Conference churches will continue the work of fulfilling the mission of the United Methodist church in our communities and beyond,” the news release said. The conference said it anticipates opening “several new United Methodist churches” next month.

List of disaffiliated churches in North Georgia

Central East District
Barrow, Clarke, Oconee, Gwinnett, and Walton Counties
Atlanta Bethany UMC Buford
Bishop UMC Watkinsville
Campton UMC Monroe
Korean UMC of Hamilton Mill Buford
Monroe First UMC
New Pentecost UMC Winder
New Prospect UMC Athens
Norcross First UMC
Pentecost UMC Winder
Pleasant Valley UMC Monroe
Rays UMC Bishop
Snellville UMC
St James UMC Athens
Statham UMC
Sugar Hill UMC
Trinity UMC Duluth
Walnut Grove UMC Loganville
Young Harris Memorial UMC Athens

Central North District
Fulton and Clayton Counties
Alpharetta First UMC
Antioch UMC Fairburn
England Chapel UMC Jenkinsburg
Mt Pisgah UMC Johns Creek
Mt Zion UMC Atlanta
New Hope UMC Clayton County
St James UMC Alpharetta
St John UMC Atlanta

Central South District
DeKalb, Henry, Newton, and Rockdale Counties
Bethel UMC Stockbridge
Conyers First UMC
Harvest Point UMC Locust Grove
Jodeco Road UMC Stockbridge
Julia A. Porter Memorial UMC Porterdale
Mt Carmel UMC Hampton
Philadelphia UMC McDonough
Red Oak UMC Newton County
Rockland UMC Lithonia
Shiloh UMC
Skyland UMC Brookhaven
Turners UMC McDonough
Union UMC Stockbridge

Central West District
Carroll, Cobb, Douglas, Haralson, and Paulding Counties
Bethel UMC Hiram
Bethel UMC Tallapoosa
Bethlehem UMC Bremen
Buchanan UMC
Carrollton First UMC
Center Point UMC Temple
County Line UMC Acworth
Covenant UMC Smyrna
Crawford Chapel UMC Bremen
Due West UMC Marietta
Flint Hill UMC Hiram
Hope UMC Dallas
Kennesaw UMC
Lithia Springs UMC
Mountain View UMC Marietta
Mt Nebo UMC Dallas
New Beginnings UMC Kennesaw
New Covenant UMC Douglasville
New Hope UMC Carrollton
Old Camp UMC Carrollton
Pleasant Grove UMC Temple
Pleasant Hill UMC Villa Rica
Poseyville UMC Bremen
Shiloh UMC Carrollton
Shiloh UMC Kennesaw
Smyrna UMC Dallas
St Stephen UMC Marietta
Tallapoosa First UMC
Temple UMC Carroll County
Victory UMC Carrollton
Wesley Chapel UMC Villa Rica

North East District
Banks, Dawson, Habersham, Hall, Habersham, Hart, Forsyth, Franklin, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White Counties
Antioch UMC Clayton
Arbor Pointe UMC Hoschton
Bethel UMC Dawson County
Bethesda UMC Hartwell
Bold Spring UMC Carnesville
Clarkesville UMC
Clemons Chapel UMC Gainesville
Cleveland UMC
Colbert UMC
Commerce First UMC
Confidence UMC Stephens County
Confidence UMC Union County
Cool Springs UMC Clarkesville
Creekside UMC Cumming
Dahlonega UMC
Ebenezer UMC Cumming
Ebenezer UMC Hollywood
Ebenezer UMC Jefferson
Gordon’s Chapel UMC Athens
Hartwell First UMC
Hickory Flat UMC Lula
Holly Springs UMC Jackson County
Homer UMC
Jones Chapel UMC Danielsville
Lebanon UMC Gillsville
Liberty Hill UMC Hartwell
Loudsville UMC Cleveland
Lula UMC
Macedonia UMC Cleveland
Macedonia UMC Hart County
McKee’s Chapel UMC Dawsonville
Midway UMC Gillsville
Mountain City UMC
Mt Bethel UMC Commerce
Mt Pleasant UMC White County
Mt Zion UMC Alto
Nacoochee UMC
New Hope UMC Dillard
New Salem UMC
Pennington Chapel UMC
Piedmont UMC
Providence UMC Hart County
Providence UMC Stephens County
Providence UMC Union County
Redstone UMC
Redwine UMC Hart County
Redwine UMC Gainesville
St James UMC Toccoa
St Paul UMC Lumpkin County
Sunshine UMC
The Highlands UMC
The Vine UMC
Tiger UMC
Toccoa First UMC
Union Hill UMC Hiawassee
Vanna UMC
Wesley Chapel UMC Dahlonega

North West District
Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Polk, Murray, Pickens, Walker, and Whitfield Counties
Aragon UMC
Ball Ground UMC
Barnsley UMC Kingston
Bethel UMC Morganton
Bethel UMC Summerville
Big Springs UMC Woodstock
Blue Ridge UMC
Canton First UMC
Cedartown First UMC
Center Valley UMC Chatsworth
Chatsworth First UMC
Elizabeth Lee UMC Chickamauga
Eton UMC
Fairmount UMC
Farmville UMC Calhoun
Five Springs UMC Dalton
Hillside UMC Woodstock
Jackson Chapel UMC Cave Spring
Kingston UMC
Kresge UMC Cedartown
Liberty Hill UMC Morganton
Lindale UMC
Little River UMC Woodstock
Lyerly UMC
Macedonia UMC Alpharetta
Menlo UMC
Mineral Springs UMC Dalton
Mizpah UMC Kingston
Mt Gilead UMC Woodstock
Mt Pleasant UMC Rome
Mt Zion UMC Chatsworth
New Echota UMC Calhoun
New Haven UMC Dalton
Oostanaula UMC Rome
Orange UMC Canton
Plainville UMC
Pleasant Grove UMC Dalton
Rock Spring UMC
Rockmart First UMC
Rush Chapel UMC Rome
Shannon UMC
Silver Creek UMC
Sixes UMC Canton
Union Hill UMC Canton
Varnell UMC Cohutta
Wesley Chapel UMC Calhoun
West Rome UMC
White UMC
Williamstown UMC McCaysville
Woodstation UMC

South East District
Baldwin, Columbia, Elbert, Greene, Hancock, Lincoln, McDuffie, Morgan, Oglethorpe, Putnam, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren, and Wilkes Counties
Anthony Chapel UMC
Barton Chapel UMC
Berlin UMC
Blythe UMC
Burns Memorial UMC Augusta
Central UMC Putnam County
Cokesbury UMC Augusta
Coldwater UMC
Crawfordville UMC
Dearing UMC
Devereux UMC
Dunn’s Chapel UMC
Eatonton First UMC
Elberton First UMC
Fork Chapel UMC
Francis Asbury UMC Elberton
Friendship UMC Hephzibah
Gaissert UMC
Greensboro First UMC
Harlem UMC
Hephzibah UMC
Hopewell UMC Milledgeville
Independence UMC
Johnson UMC Warrenton
Knowles Chapel UMC
Liberty UMC Hephzibah
Lincolnton UMC
Macedonia UMC Warren County
Martinez UMC
Midway UMC Lincolnton
Milledgeville First UMC
Montpelier UMC
Mosaic UMC
Pennington UMC
Philadelphia UMC Eatonton
Philadelphia UMC Harlem
Prospect UMC Morgan County
Prospect UMC Norwood
Rutledge UMC
Salem UMC Thomson
Shiloh UMC
Siloam UMC
Sparta UMC (Pierce Memorial)
St James UMC Augusta
St Mark UMC Washington Road Augusta
St Paul UMC Eatonton
Swords UMC
Thomson First UMC
Union Point First UMC
Washington First UMC
Wesley Chapel UMC Eatonton
Young Memorial UMC Thomson

South West District 
Butts, Coweta, Fayette, Harris, Heard, Jasper, Lamar, Meriwether, Monroe, Pike, Spalding, Troup, and Upson Counties
Aldora UMC Thomaston
Bethany UMC Fayetteville
Big Springs UMC
Caney Head UMC Roopville
Christ UMC Forsyth
Concord UMC Pike County
Culloden UMC
Ebenezer UMC Barnesville
Ebenezer UMC Fayetteville
Ebenezer UMC Forsyth
Forsyth First UMC
Harmony UMC LaGrange
Highland UMC Griffin
Hillcrest UMC LaGrange
John Wesley UMC Grantville
Korean UMC of LaGrange
Korean UMC of Newnan
Life Springs UMC Zebulon
Mountville UMC
Mt Zion UMC Campground
Pomona UMC
Prospect UMC Mansfield
Providence UMC Fayetteville
Stark UMC Butts County
The Rock UMC
Thomaston First UMC
Trinity On The Hill UMC LaGrange
Turin UMC
Welcome UMC Roopville
Williamson UMC
Woodbury UMC
Yatesville UMC

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