United Methodist Church Split Possible Due To Division Over Gay Marriage

Sunday, January 5th 2020, 5:06 pm
By: Erick Payne

One of Oklahoma's largest Christian denominations could soon see a split.

The United Methodist Church has been unable to agree on issues like gay marriage and LGBTQ clergy.

Now, a group of church leaders are offering a plan to allow those who support the church's traditional teaching to form a new denomination.

We're hearing from both sides within the denomination about how it could impact some of Tulsa's largest congregations.

They say this latest news of a proposal isn't surprising because it's been an international debate for decades.

Members of several Tulsa churches met Sunday for a service called "Resist Harm."

It was originally meant to be a protest of the anti-LGBTQ rules passed by the United Methodist Church. Those rules went into effect January 1.

But, the senior pastor of Tulsa's Boston Avenue United Methodist Church said the service holds more weight because of news this week on the proposed split in the church.

"Rather than being one global denomination and making universal decisions for the whole globe and all the churches, we would be divided into different regions," Senior Pastor David Wiggs said.

He said that would allow them to operate more locally.

If this proposal passes during the church's general conference this May, churches that disapprove of gay marriage could break off. Some of the largest Methodist churches in Tulsa could end up as part of different denominations.

"Give those of us who believe in inclusion the ability to continue to make decisions and use our judgment in terms of how we do ministry," Wiggs said.

It's an issue that many on both sides have seen coming for decades.

"Every church will have to make a decision on where we stand and which way are we going to go," Asbury United Methodist Church Executive Pastor Daniel Dennison said.

Dennison said there are four or five other significant plans laid out to be debated this May. It's the result of an impasse that he said at this point just makes sense.

"Wish each other well, we see things differently, we do ministry differently, we think you're doing good things, we think we're doing good things, we have a different ethos, so bless you as you go on your way," Dennison said. "It's unfortunate but I think it's the most kind and gracious thing we can do."  

Dennison said they'll just have to see which plan passes, if any of them do, in May.