Over one hundred United Methodist Church leaders and laymen have called on their denomination to strictly enforce its rules against homosexuality and gay marriage.
Methodist Crossroads, a theologically conservative online group, posted a statement on Thursday that garnered over 100 signatures so far, including clergy from large UMC congregations.
The statement argues that unity for the Protestant denomination can be found by having church officials strictly enforce the Book of Discipline's rules on homosexuality.
"We believe that faithful leadership and teaching from our bishops is desperately needed at this time, particularly in matters related to same-sex practices," read the statement, titled "Integrity and Unity."
"We believe that the issue is not ultimately one of sexuality alone, but of covenant and governance. Therefore, we call upon our bishops at the close of their 2014 fall meeting to issue a public statement to restore the unity of the church and the integrity of our life together."
The "Integrity and Unity" statement also reads that Methodist Crossroads and its supporters "respect our Council of Bishops' desire to be signs of unity for the church."
"We have arrived at the moment when the future of our denomination is being determined," continued the statement.
"Our prayer is that the Council of Bishops will act to restore our covenant and make true unity possible."
Homosexuality is considered "incompatible with Christian teaching," according to the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline.
Furthermore, non-celibate homosexuals are barred from ordination and UMC clergy cannot bless same-sex unions even in states where gay marriage is legal. Despite the clear opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage, many UMC clergy in the United States have called upon the denomination to change its positions.
"Conflict over those positions goes back many years and has intensified as opinion polls document growing acceptance of homosexuality in the United States," reported Sam Hodges of United Methodist News Service. "The case of the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked for officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son, and then reinstated after an appeal, resulted in national news coverage that emphasized tensions within the denomination."
This is not the first time a group of Methodists have come together for a call to resolve the controversy over the UMC's position on homosexuality. Earlier this year a petition titled "A Way Forward" called for the UMC to allow each congregation to determine their stance on homosexuality.
"By moving the decision-making regarding homosexuality to the local church, we hope to end the rancor, animosity and endless debate that divide our denomination every four years at General Conference," stated the petition.
"What we propose would allow conservative, centrist and progressive churches to come to their own conclusions regarding this important issue and to focus on how best to minister in their own communities."
The website for Methodist Crossroads does not list any contact information, neither does it note an offline address or a stated group of leaders.