HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Should the United Methodist Church allow same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy?
That question has caused a rift between members of the church in some parts of the country, and it was highlighted Friday when the United Methodist’s news service posted an article detailing a new proposal suggesting the church should split in two over the gay marriage issue.
“We’ve been here before, we were at the same place with African American people 150 years ago,” said Pastor Michael Minnix of Harrisburg’s Grace United Methodist Church.
He believes Grace United is “radically inclusive.” That’s because as he sees it, everyone deserves respect and acceptance.
“We have taken a very intentional stand on the side of inclusion,” Minnix said. “We work hard to understand where other folks are coming from, the dialogue is incredibly important”
Pastor Minnix clarifies the idea proposed Friday by a “diverse” group of 16 church leaders, won’t be the only one up for discussion and possible adoption at their General Conference in May.
“There will be many other proposals considered along with that one before we determine the course we’ll take into the future,” Minnix said.
The proposal comes amid decades of disagreement over whether the denomination should lift its ban on same-sex marriage.
“There have been times in the past where we have divided over such issues,” Minnix said, saying the church was in a similar predicament 150 years ago over African Americans and slavery. “The key is in a commitment to dialogue and understanding even when we disagree.”
Traditionalists could, under the proposal, continue what they see as Bible-supported restrictions on same-sex marriage; they’d also receive $25 million over four years to start anew but also be able to retain their respective church properties.
Pastor Minnix hopes the greater Church can remain tolerant, and for dialogue to continue.
“I’m hoping that we’re able to stay together, to stay united, that’s in our name, united,” Minnix said.
This proposal requires approval at the church’s 2020 General Conference in May, which will be held in Minneapolis, and so will any other proposal that comes up before it becomes official.
The United Methodist Church has more than 13 million members worldwide.