A split in faith: United Methodist Church Split

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Julia Knoll

Local churches have discussed the topic of the split in different ways.

As members of the United Methodist Church walked into their church these past few weeks, they have been met with confusion and discussions over a possible split of their denomination. 

In January of 2020, 16 signatures from high ranking clergy members were collected in support of the United Methodist Church to split over differences regarding the LGBTQ+ community. In May, the separation proposal will be voted on at the general conference in Minneapolis. According to NBC News, if this proposal passes in May, every congregation will have the opportunity to vote to either stay with the original United Methodist Church or to join any new branch that might come out of the split. 

Local churches have discussed the topic of the split in different ways. According to Ethan Murray, senior and Kirkwood United Methodist Church member, some members are confused about the split itself, as there hasn’t been much clarification on what the split actually means. 

“Our church has brought [the split] up, along with a discussion we had about it in our youth group,” Murray said. “A lot of us were very worried and concerned about what was actually going on with the church and the possible split after they went to the big conference.”

If the proposal passes, the new branch would not be inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community. According to NBC News, the other side of the church would be kept the same as most Methodist churches are now and continue to allow LGBTQ+ marriage and clergy members. 

“The whole denomination was concerned about the rules against if two gay people could get married in the church [and] if a gay person could be ordained.” Murray said. “The head of the board of the United Methodist Church said no. Since [half] of my church is more liberal people and half is more [conservative]; a lot of times those two sides clashed even before talks of a split.”

The Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church released a statement Friday,  Jan. 3 regarding the recent call for separation of the church. Robert Farr, resident bishop of Missouri, said only the general body can set official policy regarding the split. If the split occurs, the church would reorganize between 2021-2024.

“The entire controversy over the possible split of the church all goes back to scripture six,” Amy Gearhart, pastor at Denver United Methodist, said. “For years now, many pastors and church members have been debating about whether [the church] should take the scripture into direct context or not. That scripture has to do with LGTBQ+ rights.”

Some local churches are already starting to express opinions on the split, and some members of the church have been vocal about it to their church leaders. 

“I know with my particular church we have spoken about it quite a few times,” Dawn Quello, junior, said. “My pastor is pretty open about his opinion on the possible split, however, I am pretty sure that a few of the younger members of our church are still really confused on what is actually happening.”

Within KHS, 38/119  students were raised and are still currently Methodists of that  39/97 are actually aware of the split. With 49/67 in support of including LGTBQ+ people.

“I was raised Methodist and have stayed Methodist,” Quello said. “The whole split definitely still confuses me. I just don’t want what is happening with

I just don’t want what is happening with the possible split to affect how I feel about my faith or how people view me because of my faith.”

— Dawn Quello

According to NPR, discussions will most likely continue in individual churches until the general committee meeting in May, when the final decision will be made on whether to split or not. The steps taken after that will be up to the general committee. 

“The possibility of the split makes me very sad,” Gearhart said. “I always thought that we could stay together as a church despite our differences, but there were other members who obviously thought we couldn’t. At the end of the day, I just want to keep teaching what we believe and try our best to overcome these obstacles and just keep being a great church.”