(RNS) —Traditionalists committed to leaving The United Methodist Church have chosen “Global Methodist Church” as the name for the denomination they plan to launch.
The group also unveiled on March 1 a logo and website. The work toward a new denomination is guided by a transitional leadership council, which includes some retired United Methodist bishops.
“The primary mission of the Global Methodist Church will be to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly and witness boldly,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, chair of the transitional leadership council.
But the official start and legal organization of the Global Methodist Church may well be more than a year and a half away.
Boyette and other leaders are counting on passage of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation, a plan negotiated by centrist, progressive and traditionalist United Methodist leaders to end the denomination’s longstanding conflict over how accepting to be of homosexuality.
The protocol would let traditionalist churches and even annual conferences vote to leave and form another denomination, with $25 million to start.
However, the protocol requires approval by General Conference, The United Methodist Church’s global lawmaking assembly.
The 2020 General Conference was delayed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been postponed again—until Aug. 29-Sept. 6, 2022—because the public health emergency continues.
A special one-day, online General Conference has been called by the Council of Bishops for May 8, but it’s only to deal with 12 legislative items whose passage will help the denomination carry on administratively until a full General Conference can happen.
The protocol is not on the limited agenda for May 8.
“We’re proceeding according to plan, which is we would legally form and operationalize the Global Methodist Church upon adoption of the implementation legislation for the protocol,” Boyette said by phone.
He added that if, in the meantime, there’s erosion of support for the protocol among those who negotiated it, the Global Methodist Church will consider going ahead with an official launch.
Boyette said he has seen no such wavering. He noted that the Reconciling Ministries Network — which advocates for full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in The United Methodist Church, and whose executive director, Jan Lawrence, was on the protocol negotiating team — reiterated support for the protocol in a recent statement.
Global Methodist Church
The RMN statement also expressed support for the Christmas Covenant, a restructuring plan for The United Methodist Church that allows for more regional policymaking.
For decades, The United Methodist Church has faced conflict over same-sex weddings and the ordination of “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy. Church law bans both those practices, but there has been widespread defiance in churches and conferences in the U.S. and western Europe.
The 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis saw a major effort to pass legislation allowing more local church control on LGBTQ inclusion, but delegates reinforced the current bans in a meeting whose levels of conflict, protest and emotion drew national media coverage.