The United Methodist Church entered a new era in its long history when in late-February, after three days of fierce debate, the church voted to uphold its prohibition on both same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. The controversial measure, which passed by a narrow margin, also preserves the UMC policy stating that ?the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching? and adds additional teeth to the penalties facing clergy who attempt to violate these bans.
According to some within the church, the decision, which marked the culmination of the General Conference in St. Louis, risks deepening the schism between the church?s conservative and progressive factions and threatens to permanently break the perhaps already brittle unity in a church, which ? like other mainline Protestant denominations before it ? has grown increasingly divided over questions of LGBTQ rights.
?The wound may one day be healed by the grace of God,? said a top executive in the Church, Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, in the days following the General Conference, ?but the scar left behind will be visible forever.?