Harvest Church makes first public statement during Methodist dispute

Harvest filed a lawsuit against the UMC in November, expressing fears that denominational leaders will seize their sprawling campus if it attempts to defect from the denomination.
Harvest filed a lawsuit against the UMC in November, expressing fears that denominational leaders will seize their sprawling campus if it attempts to defect.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:10 AM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Harvest Church of Dothan voted this week whether to secede from the United Methodist Church and results should be shared with its membership soon.

“If our congregation votes to leave the United Methodist Church denomination, then we intend to honor the congregation’s will,” Harvest Executive Pastor Keith Frith said in a statement.

It seems logical that the church—as others have done---will vote to disassociate from the UMC that conservative Christians believe has become too liberal on social issues, including same sex marriage.

Frith did not mention those differences in his statement to News 4.

“Regardless of what our congregation decides, we look forward to continuing to represent Christ and serving our local community, just as we have done since our founding (in 1996),” he said.

Harvest filed a lawsuit against the UMC in November, expressing fears that denominational leaders will seize their sprawling campus if it defects.

“Unless restrained by an (court) injunction, there is accordingly a significant risk that UMC will improperly confiscate or interfere with Harvest Church’s property,” the lawsuit claims.

Harvest’s request for a temporary restraining order, filed on November 10, was put on hold until after this week’s vote.

Harvest did not mention the potential costs of severing ties with the United Methodist Church, but those familiar with the matter say they could be significant.

In his statement, Pastor Frith said the church looks forward to making additional statements at the appropriate time.

Covenant, another Dothan church, is also discussing severing ties with the UMC as hundreds of congregations have done.

Here is Pastor Frith’s full statement:

“This week Harvest Church will be holding a vote to determine whether or not to maintain its affiliation and membership in the United Methodist Church. If our congregation votes to leave the United Methodist Church denomination, then we intend to honor the congregation’s will. We will, of course, only make this decision after seeking appropriate input, dutifully praying, and answering questions from our members. Regardless of what our congregation decides, we look forward to continuing to represent Christ and serving our local community, just as we have done since our founding.”

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