The United Methodist Church is divided on one issue, and it’s starting to result in the church’s break up.
The third largest Christian denomination proposed a split over whether LGBT individuals should be allowed to marry and be clergy, according to the New York Times. The denomination would split into two new sects — one being “traditionalist Methodist,” the church that bans same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy members. The church will vote on the proposal at the May general conference.
“It’s a great day for inclusion for the United Methodist Church," Rev. Andy Oliver of Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, FL told the Tampa Bay Times. "This agreement will only be fully realized if it is voted in at the general conference. However, in the meantime, it tables all LGBTQ complaints allowing clergy to offer the ministry of marriage to all people, and gay and lesbian clergy to continue serving.”
Oliver said overall, the split is good as it would allow the full inclusion of LGBT individuals in the church, but said the church “suffered a loss.” Some Florida church members opposing LGBT inclusion said they appreciated the church’s ability to come to a decision, considering everyone’s different view points.
“That is a good sign of something that is fair and gracious. And nobody is going to get everything they want and that’s the dilemma," Jamie Westlake, a recent New Hope United Methodist Church pastor told the Tampa Bay Times. "To me, a denomination is a voluntary organization of like-minded folks and we’re not like-minded anymore and it can’t be held together.”
The United Methodist Church is relatively older, less racially diverse, and more conservative than other churches, according to Pew Research. But the rift surrounding LGBT inclusion became bigger in 2014 — 60 percent of United Methodists agreed that homosexuality should be accepted, Pew reported.