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United Methodist Church bringing 2024 General Conference to Charlotte amidst schism

Delegates are likely to discuss a proposal to splinter one of the world's largest Christian denominations.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Queen City is set to be the stage for a possibly consequential decision within the United Methodist Church, one of the largest mainline Protestant Christian denominations.

This month, Methodist denomination leaders announced that Charlotte would host its General Conference from April 23, 2024, through May 4, 2024, at the Charlotte Convention Center. The conference that was originally supposed to take place in Minneapolis in 2020 was delayed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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At the heart of the conference is the divide between how some congregations view issues tied to the inclusion of LGBTQ members and allowing same-sex marriages in the church. The UMC proposed a separation that would see more theologically conservative churches form a new denomination while still retaining their assets, like property. Additionally, the UMC would give $25 million to the new denomination.

But because the conference was delayed three times by UMC leaders, some churches opted to exit already, either becoming independent congregations or joining the newly-formed Global Methodist Church. Emily McFarlan Miller with the Religion News Service also reports some organizational uncertainties still remain, including if delegates and clergy elected to the 2020 General Conference will still serve in 2024, or if regional UMC conferences will elect new ones to serve.

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Still, amidst the uncertainty, UMC leaders believe Charlotte will be a proper host for the conference.

“We are honored to host the 2024 General Conference of The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. of the Western North Carolina Conference. “Our people are hospitable and welcoming, and we trust that the delegates who gather for what promises to be an historic gathering will be blessed by the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina and its warmth and beauty.” 

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In May 2022, WCNC Charlotte spoke to two Methodist pastors in the Charlotte area about the emergence of the Global Methodist Church. John Woods, senior pastor of Conover First United Methodist Church, said his congregation had not yet made a decision on whether or not to stay with with UMC, join the GMC, or become an independent congregation. 

Meanwhile, Rev. Dr. Valerie Rosenquist - senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Uptown Charlotte - said they plan to remain with the UMC as the split would mean the denomination would be fully welcoming of LGBTQ members.

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