Plans for the United Methodist Church to split into two denominations — one that supports LGBTQ people, and one that does not — have finally been revealed.
Conservative leaders within the church announced Monday that they will seek approval to form the Global Methodist Church, more than a year after the church started to divide itself over the issue of same-sex marriage.
The specifics of the proposal, as set forth by 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders, include the creation of the aforementioned “traditionalist” Global Methodist Church, support payments from the UMC totaling $25 million over the first four years of its operation, and Global Methodist retaining ownership of UMC properties, NBC News reports.
The plans are on hold until the United Methodist Church’s General Conference, the annual meeting of the church’s global decision making council, which will take place from August 29 to September 6, 2022. The 2021 conference was canceled due to COVID-19.
The divide over same-sex marriage has been growing for years, and reached boiling point after a 2019 conference in St. Louis where delegates rejected a plan to allow LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage, affirming the church’s stance that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
A majority of U.S.-based delegates condemned the move and more progressive clergy stated they would not be following the bans.
According to the Global Methodist Church’s recently launched website, the new denomination will be a “church rooted in Scripture and the historic and life giving teachings of the Christian faith.”
It also makes clear the church’s commitment to “the traditional understanding of Christian marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman and as God’s intended setting for human sexual expression.”
In an email to NBC News, the UMC’s first openly lesbian bishop expressed her sorrow over the planned split. Bishop Karen Oliveto called it “heartbreaking when the Body of Christ fragments itself.”
“I pray that those who are called into the Global Methodist Church will find themselves free to be the people whom God calls them to be,” she added.
Last year, Methodist leaders said that dividing the church over support for LGBTQ people was 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.”
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