WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- The United Methodist Church could make some major decisions in 2020. The denomination is divided over whether to strengthen a ban on same-sex marriage and gay clergy members. One local Methodist pastor said this potential split has been a long time coming.
"We have arrived at a point where a line was drawn in the sand and at this point, that line has become a chasm and we really can't find a way across that chasm which retains our current structure," said Reverend Stephen Bibb the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in West Lafayette.
Open hearts, open minds, and open doors, for many years this has been the motto of the United Methodist Church. However, the discussion surrounding gay marriage and gay clergy members has been a divisive topic for years as well.
"We've kind of found ourselves at an impasse regarding the way we feel about gay clergy and the performance of gay weddings,” said Chassity Neckers a content specialist for the United Methodist Churches of Indiana. “Right now, we are in the discussion of how we move forward best as a denomination."
One major way the church is discussing moving forward is by splitting up. A proposal was made that would allow traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. Which Reverend Bibb says, is likely the best option.
"It's a growing understanding that the best way to go to allow everybody the integrity of their own faith is to divide," said Reverend Bibb.
Reverend Stephen Bibb is the senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in West Lafayette. The church is known for being LGBTQ friendly.
"All people are welcome here,” added Bibb. “We include people regardless of their financial situation, regardless of where they live the clothes they wear and regardless of their sexual orientation it doesn’t matter. They are invited to participate and will be safe.”
Bibb says they pride themselves on being inclusive and if a split were to happen they would most likely choose a more progressive stance.
"Jesus was the one who said anyone who believes in me and wants to is welcome,” added Reverend Bibb. “We are all created by the same God. As the saying goes, God don't make no junk.”
WLFI reached out to several Methodist churches in the area but only First United Methodist in West Lafayette agreed to an interview. A decision on whether the church will split is expected to be made at the church's general conference in May of this year. To read the press release sent out by the church, click here.
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