Alabama Pastor Sues Methodist Church Over Fear of Church Building Takeover; Retracts Fake News Claim

A pastor in Dothan, Ala., has field a lawsuit against The United Methodist Church over fears of getting their church building sequestered by the denomination.

The case was filed before the Houston County Circuit Court with Judge Larry Anderson handling the lawsuit.

Details of the Lawsuit

Accoridng to a report by WTVY News4, Pastor Ralph Sigler of Harvest Church Dothan has sued the UMC on Nov. 10 over fears that the UMC leadership could take the building away from his congregation unless a trial court judge orders otherwise. Sigler also worries that UMC could order his congregation members evicted and their 1,200-seat sanctuary taken from them.

“There is accordingly a significant risk that the UMC will improperly confiscate or interfere with Harvest Church’s property. With nowhere to go, Harvest’s congregation and the heart of its ministry could be scattered for months,” WTVY News4 quoted the lawsuit saying.

The senior pastor and church founder told his congregants that their church’s Fortner Street property is in the middle of a legal contention with the UMC. The church claimed that the dnomination could sequester their facilities and land and possibly even put them up for sale.

Also Read: Almost 60 Churches in Louisiana Disaffiliate with United Methodist Church Denomination

‘Fake News, or Not?’

WTVY News 4 initially reported on the said story, but Pastor Sigler quickly blasted the news channel for its alleged dramatic reporting. The pastor also claimed that the news outlet fabricated details of the report.

Sigler reportedly posted in his Facebook account and said that the report had “zero reality” in it. 

“(The reporter) apparently made most of it up. It’s almost comical, so don’t be concerned,” Sigler initially claimed in his social media post.

However, the pastor did a slight turnaround the following day, in which he now claimed that the news outlet’s report was “generally misleading.” Sigler then called the news report “dramatic” but did not sustain his allegation that it was fake news.

The pastor likewise alleged that News4 failed to get Harvest Church’s side of the story but the latter said they sent various requests for comments to the church’s lawyer but the requests went unanswered.

Meanwhile, the UMC leadership refused to issue a statement about the report at first but later claimed the report had included details that are inaccurate.

Harvest Church and UMC

The same report disclosed that Sigler said he believed his congregation members did not know about the connection between their church and the UMC. He explained that it isbecause the two have not been known to have a publicly acknowledged relationship.

Sigler added that his church (which has 3,000 congregants) and other similar congregations often clash with the doctrines that the Methodist denomination enforces. 

The report noted that Harvest Chruch’s lawsuit was out on hold pending their vote on whether to disaffiliate from the Methodist Church.

The news outlet said UMC has a stake at Harvest Church’s properties based on a trust, in which UMC acts as a caretaker of church properties under the denomination.

UMC said that they are working with leaders of Harvest Church to resolve the matter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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