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United Methodist Church faces a major challenge to stay united

No break-up plan has been advanced as conference opens but the split runs very deep

Demonstrators wear rainbow gags on May 14, 2016, to protest what they believe is an attempt to silence LGBTQ voices during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. The silent protest took place at the edge of a plenary session of the conference.

The United Methodist Church is struggling to maintain unity amid deep divisions over Scripture and sexuality, the presiding bishop of America’s second-largest Protestant denomination acknowledged. 

Responding to rumors of a potential breakup at the quadrennial United Methodist General Conference, Bishop Bruce Ough said Tuesday (May 17) that the leadership is “not advancing or advocating any plan of separation or reorganization of the denomination.”

The church faces increasing pressure in the United States to ordain LGBT clergy and allow same-sex weddings, both strongly opposed by conservatives in this country and among the growing congregations in Africa where homosexuality is banned in many countries.  There are 12 million Methodists worldwide, including 7.2 million in the U.S.

Ough, who is president of the Methodist Council of Bishops, acknowledged that its 152 members are divided. He cited a “brokenness” that “surrounds or emanates from matters of human sexuality, interpretation of Scripture, how we include our LGBT brothers and sisters.”

“At the same time, we remain open to new and innovative ways to be in unity. We will remain in dialogue with one another and others about how God may be leading us to explore new beginnings, new expressions, perhaps even new structures for our United Methodist mission and witness.”

This article continues at [Religion News] Methodist leader acknowledges struggle to maintain unity

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