(NBC News) – A group of United Methodist leaders from around the world is proposing a plan to split the denomination over disagreements about gay marriage.
The agreement would create a new “Traditionalist Methodist” denomination that will continue to practice the ban on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy.
In the past, Methodist clergy faced discipline for performing same-sex marriages or identifying as LGBTQ, but many progressive churches have defied such prohibitions.
Karen Oliveto became the first openly lesbian bishop to be elected in the United Methodist Church in 2016, and she says she has mixed feelings about the decision.
“At one level, I think this is a very graceful way we can go our separate ways and go do the ministries to which we’re called,” Oliveto said. “At the same time, there’s a sadness. I think there’s power in showing the world there’s a way to stay united, even in the midst of difference.”
The proposal would allow conservative churches forming the new denomination to keep their buildings.
The split will be voted on in May.