The United Methodist Church voted this week to tighten restrictions on the church’s stance on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy.
While the church’s bishops asked for a resolution, the “One Church Plan,” that would have allowed local congregations, conferences and clergy to make their own choices about same-sex marriages and LGBTQ clergy roles, UMC delegates at the church’s General Conference rejected the proposal this week.
According to The Atlantic.com, delegates voted instead for the “Traditional Plan,” which affirmed the church’s teachings against homosexuality.
Religious experts and other church leaders are speculating that the vote will cause a divide in the United Methodist Church, and many progressive churches may consider separating from the official church.
“This is not a political or social kind of difference,” said Keith Boyette, the head of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and a main proponent of the Traditional Plan.
“It is primarily, for us, a theological difference, and the truth that the Church has been raised up to share. “When a Church begins to fracture around its compliance with its doctrine and ethics and discipline, it becomes a house divided. It becomes dysfunctional.”
LGBTQ supporters, however, say the move is a missed opportunity for the church.
“As someone who has grown up in our Church, as someone who is gay and goes to one of the least religious colleges in the U.S., my evangelism on campus has grown,” said J. J. Warren, a senior at Sarah Lawrence College who wants to work as a Methodist pastor.
“We have brought people to Jesus… They did not know God could love them, because their churches said God didn’t… If we could be a Church that brings Jesus to people who are told can’t be loved, that’s what I want our Church to be.”
The UMC’s Book of Disciple does not allow pastors to conduct same-sex marriages and “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be ordained.
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