Beyers suspended by United Methodist Church

Published 9:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

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Senior pastor at LaGrange First United Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. John Beyers, has been suspended by higher-ups within the United Methodist Church with little explanation.

Church members were informed of the suspension in a surprise announcement on Sunday by District Superintendent Rev. Susan Landry, who was at the service. Landry supervises the Southwest District of the UMC North Georgia Conference.

No explanation was given for the suspension, but the move comes just two weeks after a vote to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church failed. FUMC LaGrange will remain affiliated with the United Methodist Church despite a majority of voters choosing to disaffiliate.

A majority of professing members present, 64.3%, voted on Aug. 13 to leave the United Methodist Church, but the vote did not reach the required two-thirds threshold to disaffiliate, only 13 votes short. A total of 535 votes were cast on the decision.

In a letter sent to church membership after worship on Sunday, Landry informed that Beyers had been suspended but did not elaborate as to why.

“Out of concern for privacy and due process, I, nor your Staff Parish Relations Committee, can discuss the details of the matter. Bishop Robin Dease and I know this comes as a surprise to you, and I know you may have concerns. Please be in prayer for Dr. Beyers and for LaGrange First United Methodist Church during this process,” Landry said.

“Suspension means that [Beyers] will not be active with the church nor have contact with members during this period of due process according to The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. Dr. Beyers will continue to receive his full salary and benefits throughout this time,” she said.

During the worship service on Sunday, the congregation was told the suspension had nothing to do with Beyers’ recent hospitalization.

Rev. Dr. Stuart Gulley has been appointed to step in as interim pastor. Gulley is a former President of LaGrange College and United Methodist Pastor. He currently serves as the President of Woodward Academy in College Park.

Gulley led worship service at the First United on Sunday after the surprise announcement. Landry said the local church staff will report directly to Gulley as senior pastor in charge for the duration of his service.

The finances at LaGrange FUMC will be frozen for any expenditures beyond strictly necessary budgeted items and salaries approved by the 2022 Charge Conference, said Landry in the letter sent to church members.