Nearly one-third of the congregations belonging to a regional body of The United Methodist Church have left the mainline Protestant denomination amid its ongoing debate over homosexuality.

At a special called session of the UMC North Carolina Conference Saturday, delegates voted 957-165 to approve the disaffiliation votes of 249 congregations seeking to leave the denomination.

According to a statement from the North Carolina Conference, the number of departing congregations represented 32% of the regional body’s member churches and about 22% of its membership.

“The future is bright, especially because God has something to do with it,” said North Carolina Bishop Leonard E. Fairley.

“We know the end of this story because of who Jesus Christ is. May you hold each other dear regardless of what we voted on here. Hold each other dear in your prayers.”

Members of departing congregations who wish to remain with the UMC are given the option to connect to The United Methodist Collective of North Carolina, which the conference described as “a hybrid mission congregation created to provide connection and resources related to worship, discipleship, mission, sacraments, and pastoral care for people living in areas where there may no longer be a United Methodist church after the disaffiliation process is complete.”… (Excerpt from The Christian Post)

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