DOTHAN, Ala (WDHN)— The fate of Harvest Church’s affiliation is now in the hands of its congregation.
According to a statement released by Harvest Church, next week the church will allow its congregation to decide whether or not to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and its Alabama-West Florida Conference in a vote held over multiple days.
The church says it will respect and honor whatever decision the congregation makes.
We will, of course, only make this decision after seeking appropriate input, dutifully praying, and answering questions from our members.
Regardless of what our congregation decides, we look forward to continuing to represent Christ and serving our local community, just as have done since our founding.Harvest Church statement
In November, Harvest Church filed a temporary restraining order against the United Methodist Church and its Alabama-West Florida Conference.
This restraining order, which expired on November 20, barred the UMC Alabama-West Florida Conference from all property held or owned by Harvest Church.
The restraining order and vote come after Harvest Church debated leaving the denomination, just like other methodist churches have done recently.
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.
But there are large United Methodist congregations moving to the exits, including some of the largest in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.
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 live in a world of division. Just look at our political front,” said Bishop David Graves, who oversees the South Georgia and Alabama-West Florida conferences.
Both conferences have dozens of congregations moving to the exits, though the large majority are staying so far.
This spring, conservatives launched a new Global Methodist Church, where they are determined to both maintain and enforce such bans.