DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Dozens of churches across Alabama and Florida have officially decided to disaffiliate themselves from the United Methodist Church.

During a special called session on Sunday in Mobile, officials said 193 out of 511 churches in the conference were officially disaffiliated from the denomination.

These 193 churches properly fulfilled the obligations outlined in paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline and met the guidelines set forth by the Alabama-West Florida Conference Trustees. Those obligations included unfunded pension liability, post-retirement medical liability and two years of apportionment.

Alabama-West Florida Conference

Not on the list of 193 churches is Harvest Church of Dothan, a congregation currently in the middle of a lawsuit against denominational leaders.

“Today is a somber day in the life of the Alabama-West Florida Conference,” said Bishop David Graves of the Alabama-West Florida Conference

Those departing are still a fraction of the estimated 30,000 congregations in the United States alone, with nearly 13,000 more abroad, according to recent UMC statistics.

The recent departures are due to some congregations being concerned the denomination is not always enforcing the bans on same-sex marriage and ordaining openly LGTBQ persons.

“We grieve in saying farewell to the 193 churches disaffiliating from the United
Methodist Church and wish them the best in ministry,” Graves said. “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. I especially want to thank those churches who have decided 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 your faithfulness to your call and covenant all while leading your churches in a most
difficult season.”

A Houston County judge recently sided with Harvest after leadership asked for the lawsuit’s dismissal.

In June 2022 at the regularly scheduled annual conference, five churches disaffiliated, and at the November special session 35 disaffiliated; bringing the total to 233.