Charlottesville faith leaders speak out on proposed Methodist split

Charlottesville faith leaders speak out on proposed Methodist split

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Methodist Church may be headed towards a split over LGBTQ rights inclusion. Delegates from around the world could vote on the proposal in May during the church’s general conference.

A Virginia pastor, Drew Ensz, is caught up in the debate, facing criticism from his church after officiating a same-sex marriage.

"He {Ensz} chose to perform that wedding, but it was a same-sex marriage so which our book of discipline or denomination rulebooks says we may not do,” said Rev. Robert Lewis of the Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church.

Churches around the country are grappling with the issue of how to include people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

“One that ordains gays and lesbians and performs same sex marriages, insofar as people are able to do that according to their conscience, but one that would blatantly prohibit those things," Lewis said.

Some faith leaders, including Rev. Chip Giessler of Aldersgate United Methodist, said the issue impacts the way people see and apply scriptural teachings.

A lot of churches are experiencing a decline in attendance as America becomes more secular, but some parishioners this is not what's driving the church to consider more tolerant policies regarding the LGBTQ community.

“I think it's driven by people becoming more aware of the sociological issues today and how they are affected by the church and how the church is affected by them,” said Sue Woodson, a parishioner at Hinton Avenue United Methodist.

If the United Methodist church does divide into separate denominations, then ultimately each church would have to take a stance on the issue.

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