Depending on the outcome of the meeting, the break-up of the church could begin in 2020.
“It’s time for some kind of separation, some kind of amicable divorce,” James Howell, a UMC pastor from North Carolina, told AP.
At the meeting, members are set to discuss the legal challenges of the “Traditional Plan,” the plan the church voted for which affirmed an anti-LGBTQ stance. If this plan is decided to be upheld, it will go into effect at the beginning of the new year. If it’s struck down in any way, it will be debated at the next UMC general conference in May 2020.
Adam Hamilton, the lead pastor of the UMC’s biggest church, told AP that the church is considering two options: pro-LGBTQ churches leave to form a new denomination or opponents of the Traditional Plan would stay in the denomination to resist the anti-LGBTQ policies from within and eventually convince the traditional churches that they should be the ones to leave the denomination.
The UMC has about 12.6 million members worldwide and 7 million in the U.S., making it one of the largest mainline Protestant denominations in the country.