The United Methodist Church (UMC), the third-largest Christian denomination in the United States, is set to split up soon over the topic of homosexual clergy and homosexual marriage in the church, according to news reports on Friday.
The (UMC) Council of Bishops announced a separation agreement among the church’s diverse factions, saying they were unable to keep the denomination together after years of discord over the Biblical definition of marriage and leadership.
Signaling a historic shift for an American church as the first Protestant denomination to allow same-sex marriages and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy, Methodists will vote on the proposal at a Global conference in May.
According to the nine-page document, Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, “The proposal [to split was] reached with the help of famed mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who worked on the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and requires approval by the 2020 General Conference.”
The membership of the UMC is 13 Million people worldwide.
“It became clear that the line in the sand had turned into a canyon,” New York Conference Bishop Thomas Bickerton said.
“The impasse is such that we have come to the realization that we just can’t stay that way any longer. 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,” Bickerton said.
The announcement was met with concern and sadness by many members, yet others see it as an opportunity to stand for the Bible.
I was raised United Methodist, and while this was expected, my heart is broken. 💔
My prayers go with those directly affected by this reality.https://t.co/WbDCJgJDyN
— Rev. Rob Lee (@roblee4) January 3, 2020
“Though [the split] is tragic, this is inevitable and necessary. Faithfulness and unfaithfulness cannot coexist. It is not the traditionalists who are being schismatics. Those abandoning Scripture, reason, nature, and history are the ones being divisive.” said Andrew Walker, a professor at Southern Seminary, a University to train pastors.
“When evil is eliminated, Christian pacifists go noticeably silent. As a former pacifist, I can tell you why: it’s because they know their alternative cannot meet the demands of a world racked with sin and evil. Pacifism is the opposite of neighbor love,” Walker said.
The report splits the denomination into two parts. One called “traditional”, who the progressive Bishops claim are members who are intolerant of new interpretations of Biblical standards.
“Traditionalists forming a new denomination could continue what they see as Bible-supported restrictions on same-sex marriage and ordination of gay persons as clergy,” the statement said.
The Hill reported, “The agreement reportedly gives $25 million to the “traditional” denomination that will be formed. That group will include churches in the U.S. as well as most of the churches in Africa, the Post reported. In return, the new denomination will drop all claims to any assets of the United Methodist Church, but they will reportedly be able to bring certain assets with them.”