Bucking their own rhetoric calling for "unity," some United Methodist churches are vowing to resist the denomination's efforts to keep to a biblical view of sexuality.
The United Methodist Church is anything but "united" these days on that hot-button issue. There's a storm brewing over a decision made in February at the national level that the denomination adopt the "Traditional Plan" on sexuality. Those who favored that plan chose not to bow to pressure from liberal leaders and congregations anxious to embrace the "One Church Plan" touted by pro-LGBT forces within the denomination.
But a liberal caucus in the UMC that calls itself "Mainstream UMC" has made it clear that it "cannot affiliate with those who espouse the mean-spirited views … that are embodied in the Traditional Plan." In fact, last weekend the UMC's Great Plains Conference met in Topeka and pushed back, saying it was going to "reject the Traditional Plan … as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation."
John Lomperis of The Institute on Religion & Democracy says the Great Plains Conference is only one of many taking such a stand – and he predicts the denomination is likely to have a strong response.
"If the bishop and other officials … don't follow the church law, then they themselves can be brought up on charges," he informs OneNewsNow.
There are roughly seven million United Methodists in the U.S. and another five million in other countries. It's the second largest U.S. denomination after the Southern Baptist Convention. While a majority of United Methodists are conservative, Lomperis warns that the liberal, pro-homosexual faction isn't going away quietly.
"Most people across the spectrum are coming to a realization that this level of disunity and infighting is really not sustainable," he says – adding that a "divorce" is coming, and with it a battle over church property, naming rights and, of course, the seven million members.
"In any divorce, there's the question of who gets to keep the kids," he concludes, noting sadly that in every divorce it's the kids who get hurt most.