193 Georgia Congregations have voted Sunday to leave United Methodist Church over the denomination’s longstanding homosexuality controversy.
The disaffiliation was approved after a Sunday voting session by UMC South Georgia Conference. The separating Churches however represent more than a third of the Georgia-based regional body of the UMC.
Bishop David Graves, the Resident Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Area has addressed the leaving congregations according to a Sunday statement by the South Georgia Annual of the UMC.
Graves noted it was “a day of sadness in the life of the South Georgia Annual Conference.”
“We grieve in saying farewell to the 193 churches disaffiliating from The United Methodist Church and wish them the best in ministry. Many of these churches have dedicated clergy and laity who truly desire to serve God and their communities. We pray for these churches as they navigate ministry in a new season,” noted Graves.
He further expressed gratitude to the churches who irrespective of the chaos still remain steadfast to UMC.
“I especially want to express my appreciation for the 274 churches who have chosen to remain United Methodist. And those who heard my call to refrain from holding discussions around leaving the denomination until we have more information. I appreciate their faithfulness to their call and covenant all while leading their churches in a most difficult season.”
Furthermore, Graves conveyed his unwavering faith in the remaining congregation’s capacity to spread the Gospel irrespective of the few numbers.
“I have great hope for the future of the South Georgia Conference. While we may be smaller, numbers do not tell the full story or define our ability to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
“I believe we will be stronger as we focus on reaching new people with the gospel message. When we are focused on mission and ministry, it moves us to experience the power of God’s Holy Spirit changing lives, being a voice for the voiceless, and transforming our families and communities.”
While the homosexuality controversy lingers, Many congregations have left United Methodist Church. Over 3,500 congregations according to UM News have left UMC in recent years.