LGBT group proposes dissolving UMC into 4 new denominations

View of the stage during the United Methodist Church's special session General Conference inside the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019.
View of the stage during the United Methodist Church's special session General Conference inside the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. | United Methodist News Service/Kathleen Barry

An LGBT advocacy group has introduced a proposal for the United Methodist Church's General Conference aimed at splitting the UMC into a four new denominations.

UM-Forward submitted their proposal called the New Expressions Worldwide Plan that, if approved by General Conference next year, will create four different Methodist denominations.

The new plan is being introduced as a way to resolve the years-long divisive debate within the UMC over the mainline Protestant denomination’s stance on LGBT issues.

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“These new expressions will share a common heritage, grounded in the Wesleyan view of grace and holiness, commitment to mission, and connectionalism. However, each denomination will have a different understanding of how this heritage faithfully ‘serves the present age,’” the plan says.

“True to the covenant prayer of the Wesleys, we yield our allegiance to a single denomination for the sake of faithful employment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and reimagine our future ministries and missions.”

The four denominations laid out by the plan would include a “Traditionalist Methodist Church,” a “Moderate Methodist Church,” a “Progressive Methodist Church,” and a “Liberation Methodist Church.”

“These denominations may be in full communion with each other and part of a global convention or worldwide Wesleyan Communion,” explained the plan.

The Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, a UM-Forward leader and General Conference reserve delegate, told United Methodist News Service that the plan recognizes that the differences within the UMC cannot be resolved by other means.

“Remodeling the house or replacing the roof and adding a fresh coat of paint are not going to address the detrimental cracks on the foundation,” explained da Silva Souto.

UM-Forward was created last year to support a failed proposal for the special session of General Conference that was called “The Simple Plan,” which would have removed all language in the Book of Discipline against homosexuality and gay marriage.

However, the special session, which was held in February in St. Louis, Missouri, voted to approve “The Traditional Plan,” which maintained the UMC’s current position on LGBT issues plus added more enforcement measures.

The other major plan considered at the special session was “The One Church Plan,” which called for regional bodies and congregations to determine their own stance on homosexuality.

Both “The One Church Plan” and “The Simple Plan” failed to make it to a plenary vote at the special session, while “The Traditional Plan” succeeded and eventually was approved by a vote of 438-384.

Despite the defeat, progressive UMC leaders have vowed resistance to the current rules and plan to support legislation similar to the One Church Plan at the next General Conference, scheduled for May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  

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