Thursday, April 2, 2020

Louisville Methodist Churches Reach Settlement In Dispute

(Louisville, MS) . . . . . . An agreement has been reached that settles a 2018 lawsuit filed in the Winston County (Mississippi) Chancery Court involving two churches sharing the same building. The terms of the settlement will not be released due to a non-disclosure clause contained in the agreement.

In March 2018, over 97% of the members of Louisville’s First United Methodist Church voted to leave the Mississippi Annual Conference of the parent denomination and to resume its programs and ministries as a non-affiliated church under the name of First Methodist Church of Louisville, Inc. The church's attorney, Hugh Hathorn, noted that the church was incorporated by the Mississippi Secretary of State in 1961 and that the church has remained chartered and in good standing with the State ever since. At the time of the decision to leave, First Methodist cited disagreement with the denomination's interpretation of church law. The lawsuit was filed to determine rightful ownership of all the property and assets of the church.

Hathorn, who is a member of First Methodist Church, said, "We are grateful the matter is finally resolved and behind us. Our church members have been resilient and faithful during this entire time. However, we believe our time is far better spent spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and ministering to the needs of our members and our community than being in a courtroom. First Methodist Church of Louisville will continue to worship and engage in ministries from our church building on the corner of North Church and Main Street where the church has met for more than 184 years." Senior Pastor Mike Childs added, “The prayers and concern of so many across the United States and several foreign countries have been felt and have certainly been instrumental in this positive outcome. With over 300 members, and continuing to grow, we are excited to anticipate what God has planned for this faithful fellowship of believers. We sincerely wish the local United Methodist Church congregation our very best in their new location. The time has come for our church, which has played such a pivotal role in the spiritual life of our community the better part of two centuries, to continue the heritage of Methodism in our historic building and direct its entire attention to doing God’s work.”