MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The United Methodist Church is going forward with plans to split the denomination over fundamental differences regarding same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy.
“All of us agree that a separation needs to happen,” said Lester Spencer, lead pastor of Saint James United Methodist Church. “It’s all come to the point where we’re all in agreement on that, so now it’s just a matter of how do we do it, and that’s what we’re trying to do is find a peaceful way forward for that to happen.”
In 2019, United Methodist leaders from traditional, centrist, and progressive caucuses met at a General Conference to find a way to resolve the debate over issues related to human sexuality. The team eventually came up a piece of legislation called “The Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation and Restructuring.” The proposed legislation will be voted on at a General Conference on Aug. 29-Sept. 6, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The legislation allows for the formation of a new orthodox or “traditional” Methodist Church called the “Global Methodist Church.” The Global Methodist Church will have a traditional or conservative viewpoint on theology and human sexuality, and will continue to practice the ban on same sex-marriage and LGBTQ Clergy.
The second expression of Methodism that will be formed is the “Post Separation UMC,” and it will have a progressive viewpoint on theology and human sexuality. If passed, the legislation would allow for the Post Separation UMC to repeal the traditional plan adopted in 2019 and remove all language related to LGBTQ persons in the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
“The big difference is the Global Methodist Church adheres to the current book of discipline, the problem is a lot of other United Methodists are not adhering to it, including bishops, so that’s why we want the separation,” Spencer said.
The Global Methodist Church is organized by the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA), a global connection of local churches, laity, clergy and regional chapters that seeks to partner with like-minded orthodox Christians to build the new Global Methodist Church.
This weekend, 300 delegates of the WCA from across the globe met in Montgomery at Frazer United Methodist Church to discuss the launch of the new Global Methodist Church.
“This body comes together to help plan and to think about a future for global theologically orthodox Methodist,” said WCA leader Walter Fenton.
But the Global Methodist Church cannot officially come into existence without the passing of “The Protocol.”
“It can’t become official until the ‘Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation’ is officially approved by the United Methodist Church,” Fenton said.
If “The Protocol” passes then every UMC Clergy and local church will have a chance to decide which church they want to affiliate with. Central or Annual Conferences will make the decision whether to separate the UMC and join the new orthodox denomination.
Proponents of the new Global Methodist Church are hopeful “The Protocol” passes to allow for a graceful separation.
If “The Protocol” does not pass, local UMC churches will have to pay to disaffiliate.
“Without the protocol you have to pay to get out, and its quite a large sum of money based on a formula,” Spencer said.
“It (”The Protocol”) allows churches like Saint James or Frazer, any United Methodist Church to disaffiliate and join the new Methodist church, Global Methodist Church, free and clear and take all of their assets and all of their buildings,” Spencer went on to say.
Again, the proposed legislation will be voted on at a General Conference on Aug. 29-Sept. 6, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.