A negotiating team within the United Methodist Church has formed a plan for officially dividing the denomination, whose members had reached an deadlock over whether to allow same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.
The plan, announced Friday through the church’s news service, would empower congregations that incline toward the church’s “traditionalist” stance to form a new denomination, taking $25 million from the denomination and keeping their local church properties.
The church stated the proposal was drafted by a 16-member group of bishops and other church leaders with the help of Kenneth Feinberg, who led negotiations with the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The proposal would have to be adopted at the annual meeting of the church’s governing body, called the General Conference, scheduled for May in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The United Methodist Church professes 13 million members worldwide, including nearly 7 million in the U.S.
In North Carolina, the denomination is split into two conferences, with more than 650,000 members as of 2010.
The church has debated for decades over whether to allow marriages of same-sex couples and the ordination of gay clergy. The denomination has obstructed both, and at a special General Conference last year voted to increase sanctions against churches that went against the rules.
Those rules were to go into effect this year, but will be delayed by Friday’s announcement.