Division in The United Methodist Church
- What has caused the decline and division of the United Methodist denomination? A great number of factors have led to the decline and division of the denomination. Factors include mergers with other denominations in 1939 and 1968, the great diversity in theological teachings of the denominational seminaries, changes in culture, a large institutional bureaucracy, geographic and cultural differences between different areas of the denomination, structural limitations that prevent accountability across the denomination, and fundamental disagreements around the authority of Scripture and the person and work of Jesus.
- What has been the impact of this decline and division? The denomination has lost members every year since 1964. The United Methodist Church in America has lost 5 million members since 1964. A growing diversity in belief and practice has led some churches and pastors to leave the denomination and led others to disobedience to the doctrine and discipline of the denomination.
The Way forwarD
- What is the Way Forward? In the past several years, the question of homosexuality in regards to marriage and to having leadership roles in the church has caused additional division. Some churches have left the United Methodist denomination. Some churches have conducted same-sex marriages and in some cases, pastors who are participating in same-sex relationships have been ordained. The Way Forward is the name for the commission who was appointed to arrive at a solution.
- What is the official stance of the United Methodist Church in regards to homosexuality? Paragraph 304.3 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline states the following: “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” Paragraph 341.6 states, “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”
- Why is the issue of homosexuality being addressed now with the United Methodist church?. In February of 2019, a General Conference will occur specifically to propose solutions for a unified stance on homosexuality.
- Who was in charge of providing solutions? A 32-member commission, made up of different individuals with diverse perspectives, was appointed in 2016.
- What are the proposed solutions? To see more details on the solutions, click here.
- The One Church Plan – approves same-sex marriage and homosexual leaders in the church.
- The Traditional Plan – maintains current stance which does not condone homosexual practice but will allow conferences who have irreconcilable differences with the stance to be self-governing.
- The Connectional Conference Plan – creates three conferences (Traditional, Progressive, and Unity) that are based upon these theological perspectives.
- Does the commission have a preference among the three proposals? The commission prefers the One Church solution.
- What impact does Way Forward have on Grace? None of this hampers the ministry at Grace. The denomination is not responsible for the daily life of Grace. Grace will continue to follow the lead of Jesus and the Bible as our authority.
- What are the timelines for implementation? The timelines depend upon the type of plan that General Conference votes to implement. Click here for more details.
- What if none of the plans are approved? The Book of Discipline stands as it is today, stating that marriage is between a man and a woman as well as the fact that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings.