United Methodist Church Proposes Historic Split Over Divisions On Gay Marriage

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Leaders of the United Methodist Church announced a plan Friday for the church to split over divisions on gay marriage.

The leaders announced a plan Friday that will establish a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination that will continue to ban same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay or lesbian clergy members. The move comes after 53% of Methodist church leaders and lay members said at a February conference that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and voted to tighten the denomination’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The United Methodist Church is the third-largest denomination in the United States, boasting 13 million members worldwide, and is one of the only remaining denominations that does not perform same-sex marriages, the Washington Post reports. (RELATED: Jesuit Priest’s Comment On Homosexuality Unveils The ‘Most Insidious Problems Facing All Christians Today,’ Theologian Says)

The division is “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding,” according to the committee of bishops and other church representatives who put the plan together.

Writers of the plan say it is “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”

But the plan must still be approved at the denomination’s May conference – and initial responses from conservatives and liberals indicate that the plan may not pass, according to the New York Times. (RELATED: Democratic Candidates Speak Out On Christian Faith’s Compatibility With LGBTQ Issues)

“Some leaders in the United Methodist Church believe the church needs to be able to offer same-sex marriages in order to do its mission, and they wish to be able to ordain duly called persons fulfilling the requirements for ordination without regard to their sexual orientation,” Bishop Christian Alsted told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Alsted leads Methodists in the Nordic and Baltic area.  “Other leaders disagree with this understanding and hold a traditional view on these matters.”

Alsted said that it is common for these leaders to think that have different understandings of human sexuality can exist in the same denomination.

“Some who hold a traditional view on human sexuality and some who hold a progressive view on human sexuality believe that different views cannot co-exist in the same denomination, and they may choose to separate from the United Methodist Church,” Alsted added.

“The solution that we received is a welcome relief to the conflict we have been experiencing,” Rev. Thomas Berlin told the Times. Berlin represented Methodist groups opposing discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q. persons. “I am very encouraged that the United Methodist Church found a way to offer a resolution to a long conflict.”

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