Alabama-West Florida Conference Ratifies Local Church Disaffiliations

May 07, 2023
The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church ratified 193 local church disaffiliations at its special-called session held on Sunday, May 7, 2023. This special session was called by Bishop David Graves, resident bishop, on August 18, 2022, in accordance with ¶603.5 of the 2016 Book of Discipline. Another special-called session was previously held on November 12, 2022. Click here to see complete list from the May 7 session.
These 193 churches properly fulfilled the obligations outlined in paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline and met the guidelines set forth by the Alabama-West Florida Conference Trustees. Those obligations included unfunded pension liability, post-retirement medical liability and two years of apportionment.
As of May 7, 2023, the majority of churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference have chosen to remain United Methodist. 318 churches continue to faithfully operate in the United Methodist connectional system and remain a part of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and the United Methodist Church. Prior today’s special sessions and other spring sessions, only 8% of United States congregations have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church.
“Today is a somber day in the life of the Alabama-West Florida Conference,” stated Bishop David Graves. “We grieve in saying farewell to the 193 churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church and wish them the best in ministry. Many of these churches have dedicated clergy and laity who truly desire to serve God and their communities. We pray for these churches as they navigate ministry in a new season. I especially want to thank those churches who have decided to remain United Methodist and those who heard my call to refrain from holding discussions around leaving the denomination until we have more information. I appreciate your faithfulness to your call and covenant all while leading your churches in a most difficult season.”
The following statistics represent the 193 churches disaffiliating from the Alabama-West Florida Conference and the United Methodist Church.
-38% of the churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
-39% of the membership of the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
-35% of the reported in-person worship attendance of the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
-Nine out of 193 Alabama-West Florida Conference churches with membership over 1,000.
-While an average of 42% of church members regularly attend worship, on average only 29% of membership was represented at the vote to decide the future of their church.
In June of 2022 at the regularly scheduled annual conference, five churches disaffiliated and at the November special session 35 disaffiliated; bringing the total to 233. No local church disaffiliations will be considered at the upcoming regularly scheduled June annual conference session in Mobile.
The conference recently announced that eleven new church starts/faith communities were being formed under the direction of Rev. Jean Tippit. “I am honored to serve in this new role in addition to my current appointment,” stated Rev. Jean Tippit, new director. “This new ministry will be life giving to so many in our conference and I look forward to seeing the fruit of this labor. We will be a stronger conference with the ability to make more disciples by making this work a priority. I am excited to see God work through this team.” An additional five new ministry strategy cultivators were announced. This team will collectively help cultivate new churches, revitalize existing churches and assist with starting the healing process.
Those new churches/faith communities are as follows.
-ARK New Church Start
-DeFuniak Springs New Church Start
-Destin/Niceville New Church Start
-Grand Ridge New Church Start
-Island New Church Start, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, AL area
-Opelika New Church Start
-Open Door United Methodist Church, Pace, FL
-Pike Road New Church Start
-Prattville New Church Start
-Restoration United Methodist Church, Cottondale, FL
-Troy New Church Start
If you are a member of a disaffiliating church and wish to remain United Methodist, please complete this online form to move your membership to the general church role or visit a nearby United Methodist Church.
“This has been a labor-intensive and emotional process for our cabinet and staff,” continued Bishop Graves. “In the most difficult of times I see so many signs of hope and renewal. Today we are turning a page in the Alabama-West Florida and will be focusing on life-giving and life-changing ministry. I’m excited to see the Kingdom work this conference and connection will accomplish with God’s guidance.”