DOTHAN, Ala (WDHN) — The United Methodist Church is responding to the exodus of churches after Harvest Church in Dothan chose to leave the denomination with an astounding 99% vote.

Harvest joins 55 to 60 churches within the Alabama West Florida Conference that have made the same decision.

A conference made up of nearly 600 churches.

In response to Harvest leaving, the Alabama West Florida Conference said, “We grieve the loss of any united methodist church in the AWF conference connection. Our conference leadership is focusing our efforts on those churches that are choosing to remain at UMC. We wish exiting churches the very best and pray they will continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ.”

One of the reasons Harvest says they are leaving is that they believe the United Methodist Church is going against biblical authority

Biblical authority can be defined as, “The extent to which one can regard the commandments and doctrines within the old and new testament scriptures as authoritative over humans’ belief and conduct;”

The conference says the bible is primary to all of their decisions and is what guides their local churches, conference, and connection. They fully believe in the scriptural authority of the bible.

In November, Harvest Church filed a temporary restraining order against the United Methodist Church and its Alabama-West Florida Conference.

The restraining order, which expired on November 20, barred the UMC Alabama-West Florida Conference from all property held or owned by Harvest Church.

The Harvest’s next step is to seek a declaration from a judge to gain ownership of the church’s land, but the conference says they do not plan on taking over or seizing the property.

Two special called sessions will be held in May and November of this year, where churches who have properly fulfilled all the necessary steps will be able to disaffiliate

Bishop David Graves of the conference has encouraged churches to stay a part of the conference and denomination until the 2024 General Conference which will be in April or May of next year.