In a huge move, the United Methodist Church leadership has come to the agreement that the Church will split, based on continued conflict within their ranks over same-sex marriage, as well as the ordination of LGBT clergy.
This is a big deal. The United Methodist Church is the third-largest Christian denomination in the US, behind the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptists.
Leaders of the United Methodist Church said today (Friday, January 3, 2020) that they will begin to allow same-sex marriage as well as LGBT clergy, while Traditionalist Methodists will be allowed to split from the church if they are not in agreement with this.
This comes after years of conflict in the Methodist Church on these issues. Prior to the announcement of the split, sanctions were about to be put in place against clergy who performed same-sex marriages. The leadership of the church met with a mediator who hammered out this agreement and the new denomination will get a $25 million payout from the United Methodist Church while releasing any further claims on assets.
The United Methodist Church was the only remaining denomination of the “seven sisters of American Protestantism” and mainline protestant denomination to not allow same-sex marriages or blessings of some kind. Therefore, this shift is very important, since the United Methodist Church is the by far the largest mainline Protestant denomination.
“Mainline” is a term to distinguish more pragmatic and progressive Protestant churches from the Evangelical and fundamentalist denominations. Mainline Christians tend to be more open on social issues, as we can see here with this debate. On the other side of the divide are more conservative churches, but it’s still significant that the last stalwart against social progress on the mainline side has made this move, even at the cost of losing a chunk of their members.
Congregations will need to affirmatively vote and request to leave the denomination and join the new one, and the Church itself will formally vote to allow same-sex unions and LGBT clergy at an upcoming conference.
The slow acceptance of LGBT rights, humanity, and relationships by Christian denominations is both frustrating and inspiring. Frustrating because the persistent homophobia and hate that fuels the anti-LGBT agenda of so many churches still exists, but it is oh-s0-slowly eroding and that’s a blessing.
(via: The Hill, image: Flickr)
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