The United Methodist Church announced on Friday that a rift over same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy members has caused “traditionalist” Methodists to create a separate denomination, The Washington Post reports.
The United Methodist Church is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States, including Episcopal, Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations, and is the only one that refuses to perform same-sex marriages.
Last year, a Methodist conference voted to penalize clergymen that officiate a same-sex marriage with a one-year suspension without pay for an initial offense, and expulsion for any same-sex wedding after that. This vote revealed a deep divide between traditionalist members and more liberal members, eventually leading the two sides to reach an agreement to create a new denomination.
The plan would grant $25 million to the “traditional” denomination, which includes some U.S. churches and most of the churches in Africa. The agreement also includes $39 million “to ensure there is no disruption in supporting ministries for communities historically marginalized by racism.”
The church leaders behind the plan said that it is “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”
The division won’t be finalized until the plan is officially approved at the church’s worldwide conference this May in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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