North Alabama United Methodist Conference
The North Alabama Conference is the connection of the approximately 408 United Methodist churches within the geographical area from the middle of Alabama north to the Tennessee state line. The United Methodist Center is located at 898 Arkadelphia Road on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College.
An annual conference is the basic organizational body in The United Methodist Church. A bishop presides over an annual conference. The annual conference is organized in smaller groups of churches called districts. The North Alabama Conference is made up of eight districts.
United Methodist pastors are itinerate within an annual conference area, which means they are either reappointed to the same church or to a different church every year. As a result they move from church to church during their ministry career.
History of Formation
The North Alabama Conference was created in 1870 when the congregations of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) in Alabama were reorganized into two annual conferences: Alabama and North Alabama.
When three Methodist denominations reunited to form the Methodist Church in 1939, the North Alabama Conference continued. Birmingham-area congregations in the Methodist Protestant Church and the Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church were incorporated into the North Alabama Conference. These congregations were all white-majority. The African American congregations of the MEC had been segregated into the Central Alabama Conference and remained a separate conference until after the formation of the United Methodist Church in 1968.
When the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united to form the United Methodist Church in 1968, the segregation of African Americans into central conferences ended. These African American congregations in Birmingham became part of the North Alabama Conference.
Disaffiliation of Congregations
Debates over human sexuality have threatened to divide the United Methodist Church for many years. The 2019 Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church created a means by which congregations disaffiliate with the denomination under more favorable than usual conditions. On December 10, 2022, the annual conference met at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex and approved the disaffiliation of 198 congregations. Most congregations are expected to join more conservative Wesleyan denominations such as the Global Methodist Church or the Free Methodist Church. Some will remain independent.
On May 11, 2023, the conference approved the disaffiliation of an additional 132 congregations. This brought the number of churches remaining in the conference to 308.
- Kenneth Goodson, 1964-1972
- Robert Fanin -2004
- Will Willimon, 2004-2012
- Debra Wallace-Padgett, 2012 - present
- North Alabama Conference website
- Godhold, Albert and John H. Ness Jr. (2021) Table of United Methodist Annual Conferences, 1796-2021 Madison, NJ: General Conference on Archives and History The United Methodist Church
- Garrison, Greg (November 22, 2022) "United Methodist split update: Clearbranch votes to go; Trinity Homewood stays" The Birmingham News
- Garrison, Greg (December 10, 2022) "United Methodist split: 198 churches leave North Alabama Conference" The Birmingham News
- Garrison, Greg (April 28, 2023) "United Methodists ‘crushed’ after being left behind by disaffiliating churches." AL.com
- Garrison, Greg (April 11, 2023) "Another 132 North Alabama United Methodist churches disaffiliate: Trussville, Helena, Gardendale." AL.com