Methodist Church to vote on split


photo by Hannah Reichert

The United Methodist Church in Blue Mound has members with both progressive and traditional views on the issue of homosexuality.

On March 5-15, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will meet and vote on legislation which will decide on the fate of the church.

The United Methodist Church has struggled with the issue of homosexuality since the 1970s and the legislation that passed then was that a homosexual could be equal and full members of the church but can not be ordained.

Last year, the United Methodist Church had a Special General Conference in St. Louis, MO., for the one issue of homosexuality.

“The plan that passed was horrid, in that fact that the traditionalists maintained the language but got it to go farther,” Anita Munden said, a retired reverend.

In the Methodist Church, for example, clergy can not commit adultery or have three divorces because then they will have certain supervising and counseling that has to happen in these situations to keep their credentials. 

“What the traditionalists got passed was that if you determine that you are a homosexual or you officiated a wedding, then they are going to take your credentials, absolutely no counseling or working for it,” Munden said. “That was pretty bad because we were basically saying one sin was much much worse than another sin which is not in Methodist theology.”

The United Methodist Church has proposed a plan to split the church in two–progressive and traditional. This is the legislation that will be voted on at the General Conference.

“My real feeling is we need to vote and make a decision and we’ll pick up the pieces and do what we have to,” Dean Bottrell said, a member of the Blue Mound United Methodist Church. 

“We have a body that comes together every four years called the General Conference, it’s made up of representatives who are voted on throughout the world really,” Kevin Kriesel said, pastor at the Blue Mound United Church.

This proposed split would not be the first split that the United Methodist Church has gone through. In the 1800s, the United Methodist Church split in the Southern Methodist Church and the Northern Methodist Church over slavery. The northerners agreed with the abolitionists and the southerners agreed with the slave owners. It took until the 1960s before the two sides were able to reconcile back into one church.

“So we will split, but I believe that eventually we will come back together,” Munden said.