United Methodist Church leader calls historic plan to split over same-sex marriage 'a welcome relief'

United Methodist Church.
(Image credit: Charlie Riedel/AP)

The United Methodist Church is now literally divided over the matter of same-sex marriage. Leaders of the Church announced a plan to formally split into two denominations in a nine-page document released Friday.

The proposal, hoping to achieve "reconciliation and grace through separation," creates a new "Traditionalist Methodist" denomination that would uphold the ban on same-sex marriages and the ordination of LGBT clergy.

This fracture within the church will restructure the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination. This news is not entirely shocking, since a heated global conference took place last February, and leaders voted to reinforce the ban on gay marriage, CNN noted. The continued internal debate since then made a separation seem almost inevitable.

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A representative of the group in opposition to same-sex discrimination, Rev. Thomas Berlin said of the schism: "the solution that we received is a welcome relief to the conflict we have been experiencing," reports The New York Times. "I am very encouraged that the United Methodist Church found a way to offer a resolution to a long conflict," said Berlin, who was part of the 16-member group who signed the proposal.

New York Conference Bishop Thomas Bickerton, also a member of the group, told The United Methodist News Service, "It became clear that the line in the sand had turned into a canyon. The impasse is such that we have come to the realization that we just can't stay that way any longer."

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