One of Oklahoma’s largest Christian denominations is moving toward a split over how it treats LGBTQ persons.
The United Methodist Church will likely vote on a plan later this year that would give more conservative members $25 million to establish their own traditionalist denomination. Remaining members would then be free to change policies regarding LGBTQ persons.
Patricia Miller leads the Confessing Movement, which is against LGBTQ marriage and ordination in the church. She said the divide has been around since the early 1970s.
"And I, for one, have been part of numerous groups to try to see if we could figure out a way to move forward as the United Methodist Church, and all of those groups have failed. We could never get consensus. It’s time," Miller said Monday during a panel discussion hosted by UM News.
David Meredith is a minister from Cincinnati who’s faced disciplinary hearings since marrying his partner of then-29 years in 2016.
"I don’t trust the protocol, and I don’t trust the people here. But I trust that we’ve stepped toward the possibility of ending the harm to LGBTQ persons," Meredith said.
The United Methodist Church enlisted the help of mediator Kenneth Feinberg to come up with the separation protocol. Feinberg helped establish the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. He said this is the church's first proposal in almost 50 years to have unanimous support from those involved.
"What is now essential, it seems to me, is to gather together that greater group of churchgoers who will appreciate that the perfect is the enemy of the good, that the alternative to this protocol is not something that should be welcomed," Feinberg said.
Church leaders are still drafting the separation protocol, which could go to a vote in May. Actual separation would still be months away if the plan is approved then.