Churches Continue to Split on Subject of Same-sex Marriage
Over seven years ago, January 14, 2016, to be exact, the Anglican Communion suspended its American branch, the Episcopal Church, from voting and decision making in the global Anglican Church for the next three years. Why? The Episcopal Church was performing same-sex marriages within the church. Years earlier, in 2004, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, ninth Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire (2004-13) was voted the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.
Later, African Anglican leaders threatened a split from the Church of England (Episcopal) over same-sex blessing. You can always count on the Anglican leaders in Africa to oppose same-sex marriage. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church now is Michael Bruce Curry, the first African American bishop to serve in that position. If you watched the wedding of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, you will have seen him.
Religion Has a Way of Separating Families, too.
In my immediate family, we were raised Episcopalian, my Mother’s religion. My father’s Mother was a Christian Scientist. My father, John Wesley (a Methodist name, founder of Methodism, and hymn lyricist with his brother Charles) and his brother Edward, didn’t practice Christian Science. Their two sisters did and tried to convert their brothers, much to no avail!
I know the Episcopal service by heart or rote. It’s a little different than Methodism where the hymnals may have the same tune, but have different words. In the Methodist Church where my husband was raised, I sometimes mistakenly call the minister “Reverend,” an Episcopalian title, whereas a Methodist minister is referred to as “Pastor.” With the Methodists, you only have communion the first Sunday of each month and you sign a ledger recording your attendance on that particular Sunday. It’s a tad different.
Wouldn’t You Know, The Methodist Church is Splitting Too!
During the week before Christmas, more than 7,600+ congregations have voted to leave; that’s almost a quarter of U.S. Methodist Churches because of issues of LGBTQ nature. The deadline for the departures was December 31, 2023. The United Methodist Church has a large following, second only to the Southern Baptists.
An outgrowth of the Anglican church, the UMC has female pastors and is considered more tolerant than the Southern Baptists. The more progressive factions within the church are in favor of allowing online ordination of gay clergy and permit same-sex marriages. The more traditional groups want to keep the church’s teachings as they are, especially in Africa, where there are more conservative supporters.
How Are They Going to Split Up?
The divided church had a mediator Kenneth Feinberg who helped create the Global Methodist Church to which the UMC has to pay. The schism allows churches to break away “for reasons of conscience” regarding sexuality issues.
The more progressive churches are conducting two votes: the first on whether to leave the UMC and the second on whether to join the more traditional Global Methodist Church, reflecting the denomination’s growing African contingent.
The splintering parishioners who have opted to remain independent will have to downsize denominationally, with a reduced budget because close to 8,000 congregations have voted to leave. Isn’t it easier to accept gender identity in the modern world to unify 30,000 congregations?
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.