ST. LOUIS — The United Methodist conference meeting in St. Louis this week has formally voted against a plan that would have eased restrictions oh LGBTQ people getting married in the denomination and LGBTQ clergy.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the vote was 449-374 against the One Church proposal that would have let regional and local church bodies decide for themselves on gay-friendly policies. The Traditional Plan, which would tighten enforcement of the denomination’s ban on marriage equality and clergy, passed easily.
Going into the conference, there were concerns that there could be a split in the second-largest Protestant denomination in the country no matter which plan won.
From the Post-Dispatch:
The deep split within the church was evident in several fiery speeches opposing the Traditional Plan.
“If we bring this virus into our church, it will bring illness to us all,” said the Rev. Thomas Berlin of Herndon, Virginia. He predicted many Methodist churchgoers and some regional bodies would leave the church, while others would “stay and fight,” performing same-sex weddings even if it meant punishment.
Many supporters of the more liberal plan stood in support as Berlin spoke. Some wore rainbow-motif garments or sat behind rainbow banners.
The Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, a pastor from Portland, Maine, pledged defiance of the Traditional Plan, tweeting: “I will not participate in your bigotry, sin & violence.”
The newspaper reported that much of the support for the Traditional Plan came from overseas members.
NPR reported that the conference came as more members of the clergy are coming out of the closet.