Judge rules churches in North Georgia Conference can vote to leave the United Methodist Church

Chattahoochee UMC chose to disaffiliate with the national conference over its lenient LGBTQ stance for members and clergy. (photo wrwh.com)

A judge has ruled that 186 congregations in North Georgia should be allowed to vote on whether to leave the United Methodist Church (UMC). Cobb Superior Court Senior Judge Stephen Schuster granted Methodist churches the right to leave the UMC, overturning a regional body’s attempt to block churches from disaffiliating.

Judge Schuster emphasized that the North Georgia Conference’s pause on disaffiliation violated the churches’ rights as outlined by the denomination’s own Book of Discipline.

The North Georgia Conference paused the disaffiliation process in December over concerns about misinformation.

The Conference issued a statement following Judge Schuster’s ruling indicating it may appeal.

“Leaders of the Conference remain committed to handling this matter in a fair, transparent, uniform, and good faith manner,” the statement reads.

Judge Schuster’s ruling follows a lawsuit filed by the 186 congregations against the North Georgia Conference. The churches are seeking to separate from the denomination due to disagreements over social issues, particularly the UMC’s stance on LGBTQ participation in the church and whether or not members of that community should be ordained as ministers.

Many of the conservative congregations that have already left have joined the newly formed Global Methodist Church.

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