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Prominent Georgia church leaves United Methodist Church over pastor’s reassignment

By Dr Chet Harris

April 27, 2021

The recent events surrounding Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson decision to appoint the Mt. Bethel senior minister (see Link below) to the conference staff in North Georgia Conference has caused a cascading of misinformation and speculations. The attached article is helpful in understanding the unfolding drama. We all sense there are missing pieces to the puzzle. What do we know?

First, Mt Bethel's connection to the WCA has not been identified as a reason for the new appointment.

Second, the senoir minister in question has surrounded his credentials. This removes him from possible charges of refusing to accept the appointment. Please be reminded every UMC minister moves at the discretion of the Bishop. Ministers are expected to accept the will of the Bishop without question.

Third, there appears to be a breakdown in the way the Staff Parish Relations committee was informed of the move.

Fourth, the church has decided to petition the Bishop for disaffiliation. The Discipline of the UMC gives the Bishop full authority in setting the requirement for separation from the denomination. One of the requirements is a financial payment. We should expect this amount to be announced in the near future.

Although I understand the reasons for the separation I would have counseled them to stay the course and remain part of the UMC. We need their voice and influence. Their action is not a precedent I support at this time. I encourage every minister and church to remain in the denomination until the 2022 General Conference. We need to continue to pray for our Bishops as they navigate through the next year. We need to especially lift before God the churches and ministers desiring to connect with the WCA. God has our future. I counsel every reader to practice grace, patience, and trust as we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Do not paint the denomination with a broad brush of negativism and speculations. Stay centered in truth and focused on serving the Kingdom.

Dr Chet Harris


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