Leaders of the United Methodist Church announced on Friday plans to divide America’s third-largest Christian denomination into two separate ones over the issues of same-sex marriage and gay clergy.
Church leaders have devised a plan to divide into a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination that would maintain its ban on gay marriage and a more liberal wing that would permit it.
Though tragic, this is inevitable and necessary. Faithfulness and unfaithfulness cannot coexist.— Andrew T. Walker (@andrewtwalk) January 3, 2020
It is not the "traditionalists" who are being schismatics. Those abandoning Scripture, reason, nature, and history are the ones being divisive.https://t.co/UmeOaKp8RN
The measure, brokered by a mediation expert, will need to be approved during the denomination’s worldwide conference in May.
“This protocol provides a pathway that acknowledges our differences, respects everyone in the process and graciously allows us to continue to live out the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, albeit in different expressions,” said New York Conference Bishop Thomas Bickerton, one of the plan’s authors.
The UMC, with 7 million members in the United States, is America’s largest mainline Protestant denomination. Globally, it has 12.5 million members, mostly in Africa, the Philippines, and Europe, and the United States. It is one of the few remaining mainline denominations that doesn’t allow same-sex marriage.
Under the terms of the agreement, the traditionalist wing of the church — expected to include most of the congregations in Africa and a handful in the United States — will receive $25 million in funding in exchange for dropping any claims to the church’s real estate and other properties.
I was raised United Methodist, and while this was expected, my heart is broken. 💔— Rev. Rob Lee (@roblee4) January 3, 2020
My prayers go with those directly affected by this reality.https://t.co/WbDCJgJDyN
The plan also calls for $39 million to ensure there is no disruption in supporting ministries for communities historically marginalized by racism.
Also part of the agreement is a plan to postpone sanctions that were set to go into effect that would have punished pastors who performed same-sex marriage ceremonies with suspensions and possible removal from the clergy.