I suppose it's possible that one wouldn't know what has been brewing in the United Methodist Church for the last 40 years, but it's hard to imagine those folks wouldn't be members of The UMC.
For the last 40 years our denomination has been at odds with itself as to how to "handle" the issue of homosexuality as it relates to marriage and ordination in the church.
It all reached a boiling point in 2019 when a special General Conference was called to once and for all" decide the issue. Well, it was decided, but a large contingent of North American UM's didn't like the outcome and made it very clear they would not abide by the enhanced rules relating to the practice of ministry among and with the LGBTQ community.
Then in December of d2019, a group led by UMC Bishop of Sierra Leone agreed upon and crafted a "Separation Protocol" which was to be voted upon by the 2020 General Conference which would put in place mechanisms for the 'traditionalist' churches to form a new denomination while 'progressive' and 'centrist' churches would remain as UMC churches and then be free to alter the Book of Discipline as they see fit. Remaining churches could also form a new denomination more fitting with their theological perspective.
The problem is that the 2020 General Conference didn't happen because of COVID-19. This conference is now scheduled for August of 2021.
As it stands, each church will need to figure out "where they stand" with regards to this issue.
That seems far off, so you may ask, why are we doing this now?
Well we have been in conversations as a charge to merge our ministries in some way. The Merger team has decided that this "Separation Protocol" is a big piece for our churches to address, so we need to talk about this before we move forward.
Over the next several weeks, I am planning to post videos addressing 7 questions that each of our churches will need to address. Where we stand on this issue will help us understand how our merger might or might not move forward.
The 7 Questions are:
Where do we stand regarding the deep scriptural, theological, and practical issues at the heart of the impasse within the UMC?
Where does our local congregation stand regarding denominational connection with a post-separation UMC that is moving toward ordaining qualified LGBTQ persons and marrying same-sex couples?
What does our local congregation have to gain from the passage of the Protocol?
What does our congregation have to lose from the passage of the Protocol?
What kind of discipleship culture do we want to have in the future?
Where is our clergy leaning?
Is our local congregation in favor of the Protocol?