United Methodists plan a split over LGBTQ differences

A diverse 16-member group of United Methodist bishops and other leaders has offered a proposal that would preserve the United Methodist Church while allowing traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. The separating group would get $25 million in United Methodist funds and would keep its local church properties. Details are in a nine-page “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation,” re­leased January 3.

The proposal—reached with the help of famed mediator Kenneth Fein­berg, who worked on the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund—would have to be approved by the 2020 General Conference, which meets in May in Minneapolis. Drafting of legislation is still under way for that assembly, which is the only body that speaks for the 13-million-member global denomination.

But given the broad, influential coalition involved—including bishops from around the global church and leaders from advocacy groups often sharply at odds—the protocol may offer a road map for resolving the denomination’s decades-long struggle over accepting same-sex marriage and ordaining gay pastors.