BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Methodist Bishops and representatives are writing a proposal to separate from the United Methodist Church after differing views on same-sex marriage.
"This is actually the culmination of a long argument that started in 1972," says Trinity United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Brian Erickson.
An argument that came to a head last February during the UMC’s general conference. It led to a theologically diverse group of church representatives coming together to hammer out a compromise, released today as the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation”.
The nine-page document proposes the restructuring of the United Methodist Church by separation as a means of resolving differences over interpretation of the scriptures as it relates to same-sex marriage.
"It’s heartbreaking that we can’t see a way forward where we all do it together. But I think we’ve come to a realization, even those of us that are painfully optimistic, that the best thing for all of us at this point is to figure out a graceful way to separate,” says Erickson.
He says though same-sex marriage is the main conflict on the surface, there are other deeper issues the church is dealing with.
“In the same ways in which I think our political conversation in our own country has lost some civility and some ability to appreciate the power of crossing the aisle, I think that’s showing up in our churches as well.”
The church splintered back in the 1860′s over slavery but came back together in later years. Erickson hopes the church will come together again, but in the meantime, will continue its service to the community.
“We want to be a place where everyone is welcome, period.”
Final details will be decided at the general conference coming up in May in Minnesota. It will be attended by 800 delegates from around the world.