KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Members of the Cassidy United Methodist Church are at peace after Saturday’s vote went through for them to disaffiliate from the Holston Conference.

“There’s a peace that has come over our congregation about that decision,” said Cassidy United Methodist Church’s pastor, Tom Hancock.

Tom Hancock represented the church during yesterday’s vote in Nashville.

He said he had mixed emotions about leaving the conference, remembering that he was ordained in the church where the vote took place.

“And just sitting there and remembering that in contrast to the day of leaving, just very bittersweet,” said Hancock.

Pastor, Tom Hancock, is confident with his church’s decision to disaffiliate from the Holston Conference. (Photo: WJHL).

Yesterday finalized what was a two-year process for Cassidy United Methodist Church.

The main reason behind churches choosing to disaffiliate from the conference is over the issue of LGBTQ+ representation in the church. However, Hancock said Cassidy is welcome to all people, no matter their sexual orientation.

“There is none of us beyond the needs of God’s love and grace in our lives,” said Hancock. “So, all are welcome here regardless.”

The congregation meets with the district superintendent during the decision process to disaffiliate. Hancock said 90% of the congregation wanted to leave the conference, and those that wanted to stay did because they had grown up in the conference.

The administrative assistant at Cassidy, Susan Gamble, said it was an easy decision for her to make when casting her vote.

“What I asked myself was, ‘first of all, so I believe in God?’ And yes, I do,” said Gamble. “And secondly, ‘do I believe in the Bible?’ And yes I definitely do.”

Cassidy’s Sunday school leader, Joan Faulk, was keeping one thing in mind.

“I was keeping God in mind,” said Faulk. “Everything this church has stood for for many, many years is God first.”

But now, it was time to choose a different congregation to be a part of. Hancock said they had a total of 30 different Methodist congregations to choose from.

The church created five criteria for their new congregation:

  1. Wanted to remain in a strong Wesleyan tradition
  2. Retain biblical or scriptural authority
  3. How the structure of these denominations was organized
  4. Ensure they could retain their rights to their property
  5. What were the financial obligations?

These criteria lead them to choose the Congregational Methodist Church (CMC). Ultimately, they felt this one fit their needs the best.

“It’s more of a local context rather than a greater, expanded context that fit us in a personal way, so that we can most effectively meet the needs of our community,” said Hancock.

90% of Cassidy’s congregation wanted to leave the Holston Conference. (Photo: WJHL).

He said the main difference in Cassidy’s procedures after joining CMC is how pastors are appointed to a church.

He said the United Methodist Church in the Holston Conference runs under an “episcopal system” where the Bishop appoints pastors.

Under CMC, localities have more control over this process, with what is called a “call system”. Churches and pastors can choose whether they want to stay or leave a congregation.

Cassidy United Methodist Church is now applying to enter the Congregational Methodist Church.