DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — In a courtroom showdown between Harvest United Methodist Church attorneys and representatives from their former denomination United Methodist Church and conference Alabama-West Florida conference, Judge Richardson listened to arguments from both sides on the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the church.

This comes after Harvest joined hundreds of other churches to separate from the denomination and conference, but the disaffiliation is not the problem it all boils down to the church losing $10 million dollars in property.

The UMC and conference claim the church wants to take their property but they did not follow all of the procedures of the Book of Discipline — which is the law for methodist churches in the denomination to follow including Harvest.

They say other churches that have left followed it correctly and have not had a problem.

The defense says the church refused to sign the disaffiliation agreement and did not pay the withdrawal disaffiliation fees which consist of an insurance proportionate and pension proportionate.

Therefore, a church cannot leave and take its property because the book states all property is held in trust in the denomination. They say Harvest is taking its own route when it comes to leaving and it’s not up to the courts to declare if a church should follow the book of discipline or go along with the church’s disaffiliation process.

The church attorneys claim the Book of Discipline in an implied trust, which they say is no such thing and they never agreed to abide by the Book of Discipline.

Although they admitted to being a Methodist church, and have made contributions and committed a lot of time to the denomination, they say they have never made an oath for the Book of Discipline or there are no official documents, so they are not bound to any provisions.

They believe the court has jurisdiction and can rule on the property — the deed mentions both Harvest and UMC.

In a statement released to wdhn, the Harvest United Methodist church said:

“We are confident that the court will quickly affirm that it does have jurisdiction, as other Alabama courts have found in similar cases.”

The judge did not make a ruling on whether to dismiss the lawsuit or rule upon the property.