Divided Georgia congregation illustrates heartbreak of United Methodist split

Shelia Poole, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Religious News

ATLANTA — Kelly Garrett Glanton was christened at Carrollton First United Methodist Church in 1963.

Sixty years later, she watched her 3-month-old granddaughter get baptized in the family church.

Her granddaughter will probably be one of the last family members to be baptized at Carrollton First UMC, which voted to leave the denomination. Glanton and other members who want to stay United Methodist will meet elsewhere.

Carrollton First UMC is among 265 — or 38% — of churches in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church that have voted to leave the denomination.

On Saturday, the North Georgia Conference will hold a special called session in Athens to ratify the disaffiliation requests, allowing those churches who want to leave the ability to go.

The congregations that are leaving want to retain more-traditional tenets of the denomination. They take issue with the ordination of “practicing, self-avowed” gay clergy and performing same-sex marriage. Others are concerned that the denomination is becoming too progressive or they fear changes over biblical interpretation.


"It makes me sad," said Glanton, 60. "It's been the biggest heartbreak. Fear about what might happen becomes more important than relationships. That's hard to get over."

Many of the churches that have already disaffiliated have become independent or joined other Methodist denominations, including the more conservative Global Methodist Church.

The North Georgia Conference "is in a season of pruning," said Bishop Robin Dease in a statement. "No matter how painful the pruning might be, it is a way to make room for new life, new growth. It reminds us how God continues to work in and through us just like God works in all creation."

Sybil Davidson, a spokeswoman for the North Georgia Conference, said, "Our hope is to move through this graciously and thoughtfully, treating each church equally. Our mission stays the same, who we are stays the same."


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