MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — One of the biggest churches in Mobile County, with nearly 5,000 members, has disaffiliated from the United Methodist denomination.

Christ United Methodist Church’s disaffiliation request was ratified at a special session on Sunday, Nov. 12, held by Bishop David Graves, the denomination’s Alabama-West Florida Conference Bishop in Residence.

“Today is another somber day in the life of the Alabama-West Florida Conference,” stated Graves. “We are saddened to say farewell to the eight churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church and wish them the best in ministry. We pray for these churches as they navigate ministry in a new season.”

There are currently 311 churches in the Alabama-West Florida United Methodist Conference.

The eight churches within that conference that chose disaffiliation include:

  • Marietta UMC, Demopolis District
  • Oak Grove UMC, Demopolis District
  • Salem UMC, Marianna-Panama City District
  • Christ UMC, Mobile District
  • Macedonia UMC, Montgomery-Opelika District
  • Benton UMC, Montgomery-Prattville District
  • Hayneville UMC, Montgomery-Prattville District
  • Lowndesboro UMC, Montgomery-Prattville District

“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,” Graves said. “I appreciate your faithfulness to your call and covenant, all while leading your churches in a most difficult season.”

Christ UMC’s disaffiliation comes amid an ongoing debate that began when the UMC affirmed its stance against gay clergy and same-sex marriage in 2019.

“The issues of human sexuality, for too long, have distracted and divided the United Methodist denomination and, in turn, our local church,” said the Rev. Dr. Robert Couch, Christ UMC’s lead pastor. “Furthermore, the repeated debate has harmed LGBTQ persons each time the Church clarified its long-held beliefs about human sexuality.

“Christ United no longer wants to be distracted and divided by this ongoing controversy, so we requested to disaffiliate from the denomination.

“We plan to remain an independent congregation for one to two years as we discern any potential future affiliation with other denominations or networks.”

So, what’s next for the church with a now-abbreviated name, Christ United?

“Christ United will continue our focus on loving God, loving people, and changing the world as we have for nearly 45 years,” Couch said.

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