16 church leaders from around the world have signed a proposal that would split the United Methodist Church over differences on same-sex marriage and the inclusion of gay clergy, and would consequently create a new denomination for “traditionalist Methodist.”
The proposal will be voted on at a general conference in May.
Israel Alvaran, a San Francisco Bay Area-based reverend of the United Methodist Church remains optimistic over the proposal, which was signed when the fundamental differences within the church became irreconcilable.
“I am sad that it has come to this; however, it also provides an opportunity for healing, for the church to move forward. A lot of other denominations have gone through this and they have to go through a lot of litigation. But this is an amicable separation.”
Alvaran added that the decades-long struggle of acceptance of LGBTQ church members is concerning.
According to a press release of the church’s website, Bishop Thomas Bickerton said: “This protocol provides a pathway that acknowledges our differences, respects everyone in the process and graciously allows us to continue to live out the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, albeit in different expressions.”
Alvaran sent this message to fellow methodists who oppose gay marriage and the inclusion of gay clergy.
“There will be LGBTQ babies that will be born in your churches even if we separate. There will be LGBT persons that will be called to serve as ordained clergy. That doesn’t stop and then we go through another cycle. I think we are on a journey. Together, we might be taking different paths, but I believe that this journey ends with grace, affirmation, and acceptance of everyone.”
The United Methodist Church is the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., with 12 million members worldwide.