The United Methodist Church has 13 million members in the United States - it’s the second-largest Protestant denomination in the country - and 80 million worldwide. But the difference of opinion on LGBTQ+ rights and clergy that has already existed for several years will have had the upper hand.
Through various meetings that have taken place over the past year, it was decided that the best solution for the church was to split into two groups.
They simply decided to go their separate ways instead of continuing to fight each other or have one side give up its position on these issues.
Separation is “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the church to remain true to its theological understanding,” Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of Louisiana said.
The beginnings of this separation were particularly felt at a general conference in St. Louis in February 2019 where 53 percent of leaders reiterated their opposition to marriage equality and LGBTQ+ clergy by voting to strengthen the same-sex marriage ban.
They said, “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
“We tried to look for ways that we could gracefully live together with all our differences,” Bishop Harvey said at the end of the conference. “It just didn’t look like that was even possible anymore.”
All the leaders of the different factions of the United Methodist Church from Europe, Africa, the Philippines, and the United States are working on a plan to see how to allocate the financial assets and other details. This plan will be put to the vote at a global conference in Minneapolis in May.
This is not the first time church members have clashed on LGBTQ issues. The Presbyterian and Episcopal churches have also been divided on these issues in recent years.