Metro church agrees to pay $13.1M to disaffiliate from United Methodist Church

A metro Atlanta church will pay more than $13.1 million to leave its denomination after a year-long battle with conference leaders.

Lawyers confirmed that Mt. Bethel and the North Georgia Methodist Conference agreed to the multi-million settlement last week.

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 week, NGMC granted 70 churches the approval to leave the denomination.

The churches requesting disaffiliation made up approximately 9% of the churches in the North Georgia Conference and represent about 3% of the membership of the United Methodist Conference as a whole.

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.

Robert Ingram, who represents Mt. Bethel, said the church will have 120 days to raise the money. Tom Cathorn, who represents the conference, said the settlement will be presented to the court after a final adjustment.

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