MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDHN) — The Alabama Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear arguments in a lawsuit involving one of Dothan’s largest churches.
The lawsuit is between Harvest Church in Dothan and the United Methodist Church and its Alabama-West Florida Conference.
It filed a lawsuit against the Alabama-West Florida Conference was trying to keep the denomination from seizing assets, as Harvest is trying to leave the denomination.
The United Methodist Church claims Harvest Church has broken church law by disaffiliating and not following the Book of Discipline, which constitutes the law and doctrine of the United Methodist Church.
According to the UMC, Harvest leaders have admitted improperly voting to disaffiliate. They are accusing the church of not wanting to follow church law and instead wanting the court to allow it to disaffiliate on its terms.
In the past 2 years, 233 churches have left the conference, which is due to some congregations being concerned the denomination is not always enforcing the bans on same-sex marriage and ordaining openly LGTBQ persons.
In November 2022, Harvest was given a temporary restraining order against the United Methodist Church, as it is concerned that the conference could try to confiscate church property if it votes to leave the denomination leaving Harvest without a place to worship.
Earlier this year, The Alabama-West Florida Conference asked for the Alabama Supreme Court to get involved in the case and they asked a Houston County Judge to dismiss the case, arguing that it was a denominational matter but that motion was denied by Houston County Judge Christopher Richardson.
The denomination petitioned for the Alabama Supreme Court to look at the case and decide what issues the courts truly have jurisdiction over. Judge Richardson ordered that any further proceedings in the case be halted until the Alabama Supreme Court can take a look at the case.
Justices on Friday in Montgomery ordered that they would hear oral arguments in the case on February 7 at 10:00 a.m.