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News 9 KWTV - Oklahoma City

Historic Downtown Church Files Lawsuit To Split From Denomination


A local church has filed a lawsuit to separate from United Methodist Church. This comes after First Church claims UMC has resisted requests to separate.

In May, more than 55 Oklahoma churches requested to end their affiliation with United Methodist Church, citing different beliefs on gay marriage and openly-gay clergy.

“We did seek a temporary restraining order, and that was granted by the courts so they can’t close us in the interim,” Hardy Patton, a member of First Church, said.

In total, 84 Oklahoma churches have separated from the United Methodist Church , and its state affiliate; the Oklahoma Conference.

In a statement, Bishop James Nunn disputed claims made in the lawsuit:

“This issue is not about property,” Nunn said. “It is about ensuring we are responsible to the conference and following the processes that are in place. In short, this lawsuit is a distraction. It is not our choice. We wish this was not going to a court."

First Church, known for its inclusivity, is located near the site of the Oklahoma City Bombing.

It's asking that they retain ownership of the building, should the separation be granted.

A hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for July 7.

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