Lawsuit by 36 Churches Against WNC Conference, Bishop Carter Dismissed

March 21, 2023

By: WNCC Office of Communications

Contact: Aimee Yeager, Director of Communications, 704-992-7974

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE HUNTERSVILLE, NC (March 20, 2023) - On Monday, March 20, 2023, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Richard L. Doughton issued an oral ruling from the bench granting the Western North Carolina Conference’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit brought against the conference, its board of trustees, and Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. by 36 United Methodist local churches represented by the National Center for Life and Liberty.

We are grateful for this ruling, which further sustains the separation of church and state jurisprudence, especially for matters already resolved by The United Methodist Church’s internal church government’s adjudicative process.

United Methodists throughout the world are compelled through a connectional covenant to support and uphold one another for faithful discipleship and the mission of Jesus Christ. United Methodist congregations are not autonomous. As the apostle Paul reminds us, the body, though it is made of many members, is one, each member belonging to all the others. (Romans 12:5) So, too, are we as United Methodists. As United Methodists, we hold our churches and properties in common for the benefit of the denomination, each church, and the ministry and mission of The United Methodist Church locally and throughout the world. In the Western North Carolina Conference alone, we are a connection of over one thousand local churches, fresh expressions, and campus ministries; we are in ministry with camps, retirement communities, persons with disabilities, food ministries, and children’s homes across the western half of North Carolina.

As affirmed by The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council, churches wishing to disaffiliate from the Western NC Conference and The United Methodist Church may do so through the established and affirmed processes as laid out in paragraph 2553 of The Book of Discipline. The Western NC Conference is committed to working with each church moving through the approved processes with fairness and grace.

In all this, the overarching goal of the Western NC Conference is to move through this process in a spirit where we can support, bless, and love each other. A tenet of our faith is that we embrace a Church built through loving relationships rather than uniformity in thought and action. As John Wesley is quoted, “though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?”

We continue to give thanks for the good works and ministries of faithful United Methodists in Western North Carolina and abroad.


The Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church (WNCC-UMC) is a connection of more than 1,000 congregations, fresh expressions of church, campus ministries, and outreach initiatives across the 44 westernmost counties of North Carolina. The WNCC-UMC exists to serve & equip United Methodist ministries, congregations, and clergypersons as we work together to fulfill the mission of The United Methodist Church, which is to follow Jesus, make disciples, and transform the world. Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. serves the resident bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Read the filed lawsuit HERE.
Motions to Dismiss HERE.
Memorandum in Support of the 12[b][1] motions HERE.
Memorandum in Support of the 12[b][6] motions and Venue HERE.
Read Bishop Carter's initial response to the lawsuit filed by 38 churches in the WNCC HERE.

For more information contact:
Aimee Yeager
Director of Communications
Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church


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