Americans are more polarized than ever. We United Methodists don’t want to be.

In an ever-more-polarized society, the United Methodist Church this week has tried to model an approach to disagreement that the U.S. political system would do well to emulate.

Despite deep differences over gay marriage and whether gay men and lesbians can be ordained as clergy, we are working hard at our once-every-four-years meeting to stay united as we search for solutions. Like Americans, we United Methodists have a common history to draw upon as we persevere together.

Members’ intense drive to remain together in the face of difference seems to stand out as many other once-dependable American institutions — such as our political parties — seem ready to fracture.

For the past 10 days, our global denomination has been at our General Conference, United Methodism’s top policy-making session. Unity in our “united” church has been sorely tested by the topic of sexuality, which has threatened to boil over at every quadrennial gathering of the Methodists since 1972.

This time, when 864 delegates from around the world gathered in Portland, Ore., discussion of “schism” and “separation” hovered in the air.

Read the entire article at The Washington Post website.

Rev. Tom Berlin is senior pastor of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon and a delegate to the 2016 United Methodist Church General Conference. Mike McCurry, a White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, was a General Conference delegate in 2004 and 2008 and teaches at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.

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General Conference
On Jan. 3, a 16-member group of United Methodist leaders offered a proposal that would preserve The United Methodist Church while allowing traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. UM News will host a panel discussion on the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation proposal at 9:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 13. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Video archive: UM News interviews protocol developers

Leaders who helped develop a separation plan for The United Methodist Church answered questions about their proposal during a live event Jan. 13.
General Church
Delegates pause for prayer at the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. A group of 2020 General Conference delegates and other church leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines is proposing a new form of unity. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

Delegates offer proposal for church unity

United Methodist leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines are offering a “Christmas Covenant” and inviting others to sign on.
General Conference

Church future under negotiation before GC2020

United Methodist leaders of varied perspectives on LGBTQ status struck an optimistic note about conversations that aim to find consensus before the next General Conference.