The Reconciling Ministries Network is a major backer of LGBT advocacy within Methodism. It said 18 new churches and communities and more than 3,000 people have joined its ranks since the February general conference.
One member congregation in Columbus, Ohio, King Avenue United Methodist Church, put its denominational payments into escrow as a protest of the vote to uphold traditional Christian teachings on marriage and sexuality. Similar financial action came from another member congregation, Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, which has also covered the words "United Methodist" on its church sign.
LGBT advocacy within Christian denominations and churches has external support, such as the New York-based Arcus Foundation. Since 2011 the foundation has given $1.9 million in grants to the Reconciling Ministries Network, the foundation's website says. It has also "backed pro-LGBT" church policy advocacy from the Methodist group Church Properties Reimagined, Inc.
Arcus-backed groups helped foster a split within the global Anglican Communion over homosexuality. The foundation is also a patron for dissenting Catholic groups like Catholics for Choice, Dignity USA and the Equally Blessed Coalition. The foundation has funded LGBT advocacy groups in Africa and has been a partner to the U.S. State Department's Global Equality Fund, established under President Obama, which acts to defend what it considers to be "the human rights and fundamental freedoms" of LGBT people.
United Methodist supporters of LGBT advocacy are not the only ones reporting more interest and reactions.
Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a traditionalist offshoot from mainline Methodism, told United Methodist News Service that his organization has also seen an "uptick" in membership and inquiries.
"The responses that have been on the traditional side have not been of the dramatic public expression - newspaper ads and those sorts of things," Boyette said. Rather, the focus is on questions like "How can we continue to be invested in a church that is this broken?"
Hamilton said the American Methodists who disagree with the decision could split from the global domination, or work to resist it.
Resistance would probably be financial with large American churches halting their donations to the denomination, Hamilton told the Washington Post. This would be done out of hope it would result in an agreement to hold another LGBT vote at the 2020 global meeting. Delegates from Africa and Russia would have to agree to the new vote, and the American faction hopes they would acquiesce in order to preserve funding for mission projects.
An alternative could be that all American Methodists of various beliefs, including backers of Methodist teaching who would prefer a separation, vote in favor of a split into two denominations.
The denomination's judicial council must reconsider the constitutionality of a disaffiliation plan approved at the recent global gathering – a plan it previously ruled unconstitutional.
United Methodists in Norway and Denmark are considering responses that might include leaving the denomination as a last resort. The executive committee of Germany's United Methodists unanimously approved a statement calling the traditional plan's stipulations "not acceptable for our church."
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David Reed, a traditionalist lay leader with the Methodists' Memphis Conference who chaired its delegation to the general conference's special session, said leaders on both sides are saying "we've got to find a way not to continue to work in conflict with each other."
Some clergy have pledged to disobey church teaching despite increased penalties, while others advise only following the letter of the law.
Bishop Kenneth Carter of Florida, who had backed the proposed One Church Plan to allow local changes to church practice on ordination and marriage, is discouraging pastors from witnessing vows or signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the Washington Post said. At the same time, he is encouraging pastors to give premarital counseling or take part in those ceremonies by reading Scripture, giving communion or delivering the sermon.