State Supreme Court will review Harvest lawsuit against Methodist Church

The lawsuit stems from fears the United Methodist Church would evict congregation, shut down services.
Harvest Church in Dothan in this November 17, 2022, photo
Harvest Church in Dothan in this November 17, 2022, photo(WTVY)
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 9:28 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY Ala. (WTVY) -The Alabama Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider an ongoing legal dispute involving one of Dothan’s largest churches.

In November 2022, Harvest filed a lawsuit seeking a restraining order against the United Methodist Church and its Alabama-West Florida District, expressing fears that the UMC would attempt to shut down its sprawling Fortner Street campus and evict members.

Denomination leaders, who claim Harvest isn’t following agreed-upon guidelines, hoped Houston County Circuit Judge Christopher Richardson would dismiss that suit, claiming this is an ecclesiastical issue and not a court matter.

After a hearing last spring, Richardson ruled against the UMC, which prompted denomination leaders to appeal in a Writ of Mandamus to the state’s highest court.

In that appeal, the UMC renewed its claims that a circuit court judge lacks jurisdiction.

Hundreds of churches have bolted from the UMC because of the denomination’s stand on social issues, including same-sex marriage.

Some paid millions to leave, and sources said the Harvest dispute also involves a possible buyout.

Justices decided Friday to review what could become a landmark case and set oral arguments on February 7 in Montgomery.

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