BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The United Methodist Church is one of several mainline Protestant denominations to begin to fracture amid debates over should same-sex marriages be allowed within the church.
The fight is over the book of discipline which is a book detailing the beliefs, standards, doctrines, canon law, and polity of a particular Christian denomination.
“There are those who are advocating that we change our policy which we utilize the book of discipline to set some of those policies,” said Pastor Karl Kroger, at McCabe United Methodist Church. “For other folks that is going against their convictions and it is too big of a compromise.”
For a number of years, the denomination has been discussing the role of the LGBTQ community in the life of the church.
“The United Methodist Church is dividing because of two primary things, the first is our source of authority,” said Pastor John Wesley Leek. “How do we know what God wants us to do? Progressive Christians see the Bible as one of many sources to balance and consider. Where most Christians like myself see the Bible as the first and final word.”
There are three sides one can take on this topic.
Progressive: those wanting to change the Book of Discipline to make the denomination fully inclusive. They emphasize radical welcome.
Traditionalists: those who do not want to change the book of discipline.
“Come as you are and you are welcome to stay as you are,” said Leek. “Traditional Methodists like myself emphasize the power of God to transform all people into new and holy people.”
The third side is moderate which are those who advocate for unity and not separation.
According to Leek, 13 United Methodist Bishops are already ordaining clergy who are openly LGBTQ+ which is causing friction in the denomination across the nation.
“In our system, a Bishop can appoint any pastor to any church whether the church wants it or not,” said Leek.
If the vote passes to change the Book of Discipline at the 2024 UMC Conference, conservatives will leave the United Methodist Church (UMC) to form the Global Methodist Church.