Conference approves disaffiliation of 14 churches
The formal departure of 14 churches from the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church was approved Friday at Annual Conference in Lakeland.
Bishop Kenneth Carter said he expects more churches to leave once their paperwork is complete. He said he will “strongly consider” asking for a special session in the fall that could speed the process for churches planning on leaving the Conference.
He called for peace and respect from both sides.
“Our friends in Jesus Christ, we send you forth with our blessing,” Bishop Carter said in a prayer after the action was taken.
“We will never disparage you, our friends who are departing from us. And we appeal to you by the mercies of God not to disparage those who would continue as United Methodists. Help us to do in all things that which is pleasing in your sight.”
Bishop Carter stressed that the Conference holds no ill will toward the departing churches. He said he respects those decisions and asked those churches to do the same for the affiliation they are leaving.
“If you have come to the point that you can no longer consider yourself a United Methodist, we will not disparage you, and we would ask that you not disparage us,” he said.
He also urged churches considering disaffiliation to consult with their district’s leadership.
“We are aware that some of our churches have been approached by attorneys,” Bishop Carter said. “I encourage you always to keep your district superintendent in your conversations. They are not your adversaries.”
The departing churches: Atlantic Central District: First Vero Beach and St. Paul’s/Highland Avenue Fellowship-Melbourne. East Central District: Lake Helen UMC-Lake Helen. North Central District: First Dunnellon, First Williston, Solomon Chapel-Orange Lake, Wesley Chapel/Cotton Plant-Ocala. North East District: Fort Caroline-Jacksonville, North West District: Greenville UMC, Hanson-Madison in Pinetta, Cherry Lake-Madison, Rocky Springs-Madison. South East: Davie UMC. South West: First UMC-Punta Gorda.
The Conference also officially closed Riverview UMC in Ormond Beach but voted to keep open The Collective in DeLand.
Joe Henderson is News Content Editor for FLUMC.org.