Friday, January 03, 2020

The United Methodist Church announces a plan to divide

Earlier in 2019, there was a controversial vote within the United Methodist Church ["UMC"], wherein conservative US members combined with members outside the U.S. to "outvote" more liberal UMC members.

Of numbers

The United Methodist Church has more than 12.5 million members worldwide. About 58 percent of the delegates to the General Conference were from the U.S., where the United Methodist Church claims nearly 7 million members. Nearly 41 percent were from central conferences outside the U.S., including growing churches in African countries and in the Philippines.


On February 26, 2019, the General Conference of the UMC passed "The Traditional Plan (as amended)" by a vote of 53% to 47% [a 438-384 vote]. The Traditional Plan reinforced the church's prohibitions on same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy.

An unusual resolution of the divide has been proposed, wherein the United Methodist church will split up. The New York Times covered this plan in an article titled United Methodist Church Announces Plan to Split Over Same-Sex Marriage . Curiously, the "minority" of February 26, 2019 will carry on as United Methodists, and the "majority" will take a new name. Yes, lawyers were involved. The Times reported that Church leaders from Africa, Europe, the Philippines and the U.S. drew up the separation plan during three two-day mediation sessions held at law offices in Washington.

The [reformulated] United Methodist Church will remove language and policies “that treat LGBTQ persons as second-class Christians in the church,” Church of the Resurrection Pastor Adam Hamilton said in a statement posted on the church’s website.

LBE had contemplated several analogies of the Methodist split to those of the American Civil War, but this particular outcome was not one of them. As a point of history, the antecedents of the UMC had split up into southern and northern contingents long before the start of the Civil War, so splitting up has some precedents within the Methodist religion.

See also:

UPDATE on 5 Jan 2020. An article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that the (perceived) unwillingness of some of the progressives to leave the UMC caused the traditionalists to be willing to leave (even though they were in the "majority" in the vote of February 2019):

Some opponents of same-sex marriage and gay clergy have been openly considering a split for years. Their agreement to form their own denomination as part of the proposed deal comes after supporters of LGBT rights said following last year's conference that they wouldn't leave the church.

"Quite frankly, there's no way to force anybody to leave absent a very expensive trial, person by person," Mr. Boyette said.


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