A Georgia congregation has officially left the United Methodist Church in support of LGBTQ rights, deciding instead to be an independent nondenominational church.
The move by Asbury Memorial Church in Savannah comes a year and a half after the UMC, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., voted to strengthen its bans on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex weddings.
"Our LGBTQ community is vital to the thriving congregation we have today," the Rev. Billy Hester said. "We have always tried to be an all-inclusive environment, and we're excited about our future."
Asbury Memorial voted to part ways with its national organization last September by a vote of 309 to 7. It then had to wait nearly a year for official approval from the UMC's South Georgia Conference, which it received in a virtual meeting last month. The disaffiliation became final on Thursday.
RON: Savannah has a large arts college, not to mention a sizeable gay community that has a long history of social acceptance. The Rev. Mr. Billy Hester opened his church to the theater arts and wooed many of the LGBTQ community into active church membership. For more on this gay friendly and successful Methodist Church, Chick Here.