SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — America’s third-largest Christian denomination could be splitting soon over same-sex marriage.
Last February, the United Methodist Church voted against performing same-sex weddings and allowing LGBT clergy members.
Mandatory penalties for those acts went into effect on Jan. 1.
Now, a plan was proposed last Friday to split the church into two denominations.
“It’s called the separation protocol, it’s been in the news,” said Daniel Hilty, senior pastor at United Methodist Church. “And that is a recommendation from one group of how the methodist churches can move forward. It would involve some churches having the option of splitting away.”
Hilty says the general conference made a decision last year.
“The penalties that are in place for performing same-sex weddings or issues related to the LGBTQ plus community, became more mandatory, more difficult to ignore,” Hilty said.
Hilty, however, does not agree with the decision.
“I believe that God’s call to the church is to be open and inclusive, of people of all backgrounds and diversity and sexual orientation, including people who are LGBTQ plus,” Hilty said.
The plan would keep the main United Methodist Church, recognizing the rights of the LGBTQ community, while another traditionalist branch would form, banning same-sex marriage and prohibit LGBTQ people from the clergy.
“People on all sides feel like this issue has really come to a head, and we’re all waiting to see what happens,” Hilty said.
This plan will be discussed in the upcoming Methodist General Conference.
The conference usually only happens every four years, but because of this debate, it is happening this May in Minnesota.