COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina Conference leaders are calling the Local Church Discernment Process a “faithful step forward.”

They are allowing congregations to decide if local United Methodist Churches want to separate from the denomination.

The process is a response to years of debate with LQBTQ policies and same-sex marriage.

According to the conference leaders, there are several steps to decide if a local church can separate from the denomination.

That includes church leaders meeting with the congregation. Churches must also make sure all financial obligations are paid to the church. The separation would also have to be voted on by the congregation before the conference would take a final vote.

Leaders said that the vote within the congregation would have to be made before March 1 each year in order to be considered by conference members during their June session.

The Local Church Discernment process can be viewed here. There you can find all steps that must be taken if a local church decides to separate from the denomination.

Conference leaders created a “disaffiliation pathway” in 2019, separate from the Local Church Discernment Process, allowing churches to disaffiliate from the denomination due to the “conflict within The United Methodist Church around issues of human sexuality.”