Metro church completes $13.1 million payment to separate from United Methodist Church

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A metro Atlanta church has raised the money it needs to become independent from the United Methodist Church.

Channel 2 Action News reported on the Mt. Bethel and the North Georgia Methodist Conference multi-million settlement last month. The Cobb County church confirmed it paid the $13.1 million this week.

Half of the money came from donations raised in just two months. The church said it used a loan for the other half and plan to pay it off within two years.

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“God deserves all the glory for bringing Mt. Bethel to this new opportunity in ministry, and for sustaining our faithful members and supporters throughout the past year,” said Dr. Jody Ray, Lead Pastor of Mt. Bethel Church. “We believe God has a purpose for Mt. Bethel—to provide people and families with a church home that is grounded in Biblical truth, abounding in grace, serving those in need, and joyfully committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ for generations to come.”

The conference released the following statement to Channel 2 Action News:

“The Board of Trustees of the North Georgia Conference recently signed documents that bring resolution to the matter between the Conference and Mt. Bethel. The Trustees appreciate all who have worked patiently and prayerfully to reach this point of resolution. As the preamble to the agreement states, “All plan to look forward and honor the mission and ministry of each other as Christians.”

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Under the settlement, Mt. Bethel will drop UMC from its name. The Marietta church was one of the largest congregations associated with the UMC in the Southeast with more than 10,000 members.

During a conference last month, NGMC granted 70 churches the approval to leave the denomination. There has been a fierce debate within the United Methodist Church over traditional biblical teachings and the church’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.

However, Mt. Bethel says it wanted to break away from the church because the congregation did not agree with the conference’s decision to reassign its pastor Rev. Dr. Jody Ray.

Historically, the UMC filters pastors in and out every few years. When the time came time to change pastors, the pastor and congregation both said no. The feud had been going on since April.

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