An Update on the Local Church Disaffiliation Lawsuit

November 13, 2023

As previously announced, a lawsuit was filed against the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church (AWF) on October 31, 2023, by a group of local churches within the conference requesting the court intervene in the disaffiliation process. 

A hearing was held on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in the Montgomery County Circuit Court. In their Complaint, the Plaintiffs asked the Montgomery County Circuit Court to decide matters that would have required it to interpret the United Methodist Book of Discipline and church doctrine. Relying upon principles enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and long standing rulings of law by the United States Supreme Court and Supreme Court of Alabama, the Court held that it lacked jurisdiction to interpret church doctrine, and it dismissed the case. 

A ruling was received November 10, 2023, stating that, “The Court is without jurisdiction to rule on such issues because the relief sought by Plaintiffs would require the Court to interpret a provision of the Book of Discipline intertwined with church doctrine.”

This ruling did not affect the special-called annual conference session which was held Sunday, November 12, 2023. Eight churches went before the lay and clergy members of annual conference for a disaffiliation vote. These churches completed the necessary steps outlined by the AWF Board of Trustees and were ratified at this special session.

We continue to pray for all involved and look forward to continuing our missional work of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

-The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church

Media contact:
Mary Catherine Phillips
Director of Communications