By Will Hall, Message Executive Editor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (LBM) –After years of struggle within the United Methodist Church regarding the ordination of LGBT clergy and performing same-sex marriages, world leaders of the denomination have proposed a split that would allow conservative congregations to form a separate body.
The Book of Discipline that guides UMC churches regarding such matters now states that “the practice of homosexuality is in compatible with Christian teaching” and declares that “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”
Once the conservatives separate from the present denomination, it will open the door for the existing United Methodist Church to repeal these bans. The proposed separation will be voted on at the UMC General Conference in May.
The United Methodist Church has about 6.8 million members in the United States and 12.7 million members worldwide. Although overseas congregations are considered more conservative than those in the United States, surveys indicate that 55 percent of U.S. congregants are conservative in their beliefs.
The United Methodist Church is the second-largest evangelical body in the United States, behind the Southern Baptist Convention.