NASHVILLE, Tn. – A group of United Methodist bishops and other leaders have come up with a proposal that would split the church. The split allows for more traditional-believing members to form a new denomination and but still preserve The United Methodist Church. The split is the result of some members wanting to adapt church policies to allow LGBTQ inclusion.
The separating group would receive $25 million from United Methodist funds and be allowed to keep its local church properties. The details of the split are laid out in a nine-page document called “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation.” The proposal still needs approval from members at the group’s annual conference. The bishops and other leaders from around the world worked with a mediator. It is believed the separation will end or reduce the denominations struggle over how accepting it should be of homosexuality.
New York Conference Bishop Thomas Bickerton is a member of the group working on the proposal said, “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.”
Traditionalists forming a new denomination would follow what they believe to be Bible-supported restrictions on same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay members as clergy.
According to UM News, the traditionalist Wesleyan Covenant Association is already taking steps to form a new group. It has drafted policies and doctrines and Bickerong and the Reverend Keith Boyette, WCA president believe the new church would form out of WCA. Boyette said, “I believe this is a fair and equitable solution that puts decades of conflict behind us and gives us a hopeful future.”
Jan Lawrence, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, is also a member of the negotiating team and has worked for a while to remove restrictions against LGBTQ participation in the church.
“As a United Methodist who is LGBTQ, my priority at the table was to make sure we addressed the full participation of LGBTQ people in the life of the church, making sure the answer was not `ask us again in 2024,’” she said. “The language needs to be removed now. I am pleased that there is opportunity here for that to happen in 2020.”