The United Methodist Church is about to suffer a major split because a large portion of the church wants to sanction gay marriage and ordinate gay clergy.
Church officials have announced a plan to split the UMC into two separate branches, one that continues to oppose gay marriage and gay clergy, and a second that allows gay wedding ceremonies and gay, bisexual, and transgender ministers.
The split would affect the church globally including its 13 million members in the U.S. and 80 million internationally.
Churches are not required to officiate at gay weddings, despite the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 that legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Several other denominations already allow for gay weddings and some even approve of gay clergy. Sects including the Episcopal Church and some branches of Judaism fall into that category.
But many other churches still oppose gay marriage including Catholicism and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Announcing the decision to split, the Methodist church insisted that the plan was the “best means to resolve our differences.”
New York Conference Bishop Thomas Bickerton added, “The 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.”
The plan will next go before the full organization during its upcoming convention in May.
The United Methodist Church was founded in 1968 by John Wesley as a result of a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church.
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