United Methodist Leaders Try to Brand Likely Same-Sex Marriage Church Split as ‘Reconciliation’
Written by KSCE Christian TV on January 3, 2020
The United Methodist Church is expected to split into two denominations over same-sex marriage, church officials announced Friday.
Church watchers were not surprised by the news of the proposed division of the nation's third-largest denomination. Church members have been at odds for years over the issue, with some members in the United States leading the call for full inclusion for LGBTQ people. The church membership totals around 13 million in the US.
As CBN News reported, at a specially called meeting last February in St. Louis, Mo. delegates voted 438-384 for a proposal called the Traditional Plan, which affirmed bans on LGBTQ-inclusive practices. A majority of US-based delegates opposed the plan, but they were outvoted by US conservatives teamed with most of the delegates from Methodist strongholds in Africa and the Philippines.
Methodists in favor of allowing gay clergy and gay marriage vowed to continue the fight. Meanwhile, the Wesleyan Covenant Association, representing traditional Methodist practice, had already been preparing for a possible separation.
The Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and one of 16 people on the mediation team that developed and signed the separation proposal, said he is "very hopeful" the plan will be approved at the denomination's General Conference this year.
Boyette stressed that while the churches remaining in the United Methodist Church would keep the denomination's name, both the new church and the post-separation Methodist Church would be different from the current Methodist Church.
"This is not a leaving, but a restructuring of the United Methodist Church through separation," he said.
The proposal, called "A Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation," envisions an amicable separation in which conservative churches forming a new denomination would retain their assets. The new denomination also would receive $25 million.
"The undersigned, in recognition of the regional contexts and divergent points of view within the global United Methodist Church, propose separation as a faithful step with the possibility of continued cooperation around matters of shared interest, enabling each of us to authentically live out our faith," the proposal states.
The proposal is expected to come before the United Methodist General Conference for a vote at their legislative meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., this May.