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story.lead_photo.caption Premier Sound consists of the trio of Jim Neal, Gary Bullock and Levan Hubbard. - Submitted photo

Church leaves UMC after divisive vote

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A Georgia congregation said Thursday that it has finalized its split from the United Methodist Church after the denomination's divisive vote last year to strengthen bans on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT pastors.

Members of Asbury Memorial Church in Savannah supported leaving the Methodist church in September 2019 by a 309-7 vote after a February 2019 conference rejected more LGBT-inclusive practices. The congregation's pastor, the Rev. Billy Hester, said Asbury Memorial is now officially independent after the United Methodists' South Georgia Conference approved the separation Aug. 15.

"Our LGBT ... members have helped us become a growing, vital congregation in the Savannah community," Hester said in a news release. "Asbury Memorial has always been a welcoming, all-inclusive congregation and we are excited about our future as an independent nondenominational church."

A deeper breakup within America's largest mainline Protestant denomination was expected at the United Methodists 2020 conference before the May gathering was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It could be another year before that meeting takes place to consider plans for United Methodists along theological divisions over LGBT inclusion.

Formed in 1968, the United Methodist Church claims about 12.6 million members worldwide, including nearly 7 million in the United States.

-- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Dallas minister to speak at series

The Rev. Amos Disasa, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, will be the featured speaker for the 2020 Cotham Lecture Series online Sept. 20-21.

Disasa's talks will draws from the book "The Cross and the Lynching Tree" by Arkansas native and Philander Smith College graduate James Cone.

The series kicks off with the sermon "Nothing to Deserve Death" at 10:25 a.m. Sept. 20, at Register for Disasa's 7 p.m. lecture that day, "When the Wood Is Green," at, and for "The Body as Sacrament," his lecture set for 7 p.m. Sept. 21, at

-- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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