Editor’s Note: The following essay appears in the Spring 2020 issue of Eikon.
After fifty years of fractious debate over sexuality, The United Methodist Church is about to divide into two or more denominations. This division would have occurred at the scheduled May 2020 quadrennial General Conference, now postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19.
If ratified next year, this schism will be the first organized division of a major national US denomination since before the Civil War, when Methodists, Baptists, and others divided over slavery.
United Methodist traditionalists and liberals have fought ever since the denomination in 1972 declared homosexual practice “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The church subsequently banned same-sex rites and reaffirmed that clergy must be celibate if single and monogamous in male/female marriage, otherwise risking defrocking.
This traditionalist stance has been upheld at every governing General Conference since 1972. These…