Georgia megachurch, UMC conference enter mediation amid threat of separation, asset seizure

Jul 31, 2021 by

By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post:

A Georgia megachurch seeking to leave the United Methodist Church and the regional church body that recently seized its assets have begun a mediation process to resolve the tenuous situation.

Mt. Bethel UMC of Marietta, which has about 10,000 members, and the UMC North Georgia Conference jointly announced Wednesday that they are looking to resolve their differences.

“Mt. Bethel UMC and the UMC’s North Georgia Conference have jointly agreed to use their best efforts to resolve an ongoing dispute through a mediation process and will refrain from public comment on this matter until the mediation process has concluded,” reads the statement.

The joint statement also explained that Mt. Bethel Christian Academy, a private school overseen by the megachurch that serves kindergarten through 12th grade, “will also be included in the mediation process.”

In April, Mt. Bethel leadership unanimously voted to begin a process of discernment for leaving the UMC, citing as reasons the reassignment of lead pastor Jody Ray and what they considered the overall direction of the mainline Protestant denomination.

UMC pastors are usually assigned to a congregation for one year at a time, with the possibility of being sent to another congregation or a different role occurring annually.

“Given the recent actions of our bishop and the direction of the United Methodist denomination, both the leadership and members of Mt. Bethel Church strongly believe it is time for us to part ways with the denomination,” a church spokesperson told The Christian Post in April.

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