COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A local judge ruled that a congregation has the right to leave the United Methodist Church without a fight.
Mt. Bethel Church in Cobb County was one of the first churches to blaze the trail when they wanted to disaffiliate two years ago.
The very issues they faced during the exiting process are what lead to the lawsuit that was later filed by 186 churches.
A Cobb County judge ruled this week in favor of 186 Methodist churches that filed a lawsuit against the North Georgia United Methodist Conference regarding the process to disaffiliate.
On Tuesday, Judge Stephen Schuster announced his decision in court granting church congregations to disaffiliate from the conference without facing any pushback from the UMC.
“There is an issue inside the walls of the church,” Schuster said.
Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins spoke with pastor Carolyn Moore with Mosaic Church. Her congregation was one of the ones that decided to disaffiliate.
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“We are thrilled that we have a clear path forward and a clear word from the court system. We are excited to start the process,” Moore said.
The mass exodus and demand to disaffiliate from the UMC stems from the ongoing controversy about the Methodist doctrine and disagreements on social issues, including the LGBTQ community.
“Every church welcomes anyone who walks through the door,” Moore said. “That won’t change our contention that has brought us to a point where we simply need space.”
Prior to the lawsuit, many Methodist churches had already disaffiliated, including Mt. Bethel. They have been independent for over a year now in what the church has said was a long uphill battle – and no judge to help them ease the process.
“We celebrate the judge’s decision, because a year ago and we know how that felt. We are very excited for them,” Mt. Bethel director of communications Andrea Black said.
“No one who loves the church and Jesus wants to see that level of conflict,” Moore said.
The UMC has issued a statement saying they may be appealing the decision.
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