The United Methodist Church is expected to split over gay marriage and allowing LGBTQ people to become clergy members. The church is the third-largest religious denomination in America and has more than 13 million members worldwide.
The Religious News Service reported that a proposal known as the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation would produce a new “traditionalist” within the Methodist denomination.
“This Protocol is unanimously agreed to by each of the undersigned laity, pastors, and bishops of The United Methodist Church. The undersigned further covenant to fully support this Protocol and each other in our joint effort to seek its implementation. Each of the undersigned also agree to recommend the Protocol’s implementing legislation to be voted upon and adopted by the 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church,” the recommendation reads.
Currently, ordained pastors are not authorized to perform same-sex marriages. People in the LGBTQ also can’t be ordained.
“We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the church’s Book of Discipline reads.
The church in a statement says given the “broad, influential coalition involved… the potential seems strong that the separation proposal can end or at least greatly reduce the denomination’s decades-long struggle over how accepting to be homosexuality.”
Bishop Thomas Bickerton is part of the group who wrote the proposal. He says the hostile 2019 General Conference in St. Louis underscored growing tensions.
“It became clear that the line in the sand had turned into a canyon,” Bickerton says. “The impasse is such that we have come to the realization that we just can’t stay that way any longer.”
He adds the 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.”
Sixteen church leaders from around the world will vote on the proposal during the General Conference in May.