At the United Methodist General Conference, leaders from both sides spoke candidly about "amicable" division.

• "Idealistically, we would like to see the whole denomination renewed and transformed, not divided. But realistically, especially given the recent example of the Episcopal Church, an amicable separation might be worth discussing. Many on both sides of the spectrum are simply exhausted from decades of battle." Mark Tooley, director of UM Action.

• "It is totally premature to talk about a split. We need to honestly face those [divisive] issues and talk about what to do to seek a solution about how to remain together in the church." Kathryn Johnson, executive director, Methodist Federation for Social Action, representing pro-gay Methodists.

• "I think the whole idea [of separation] breaks everybody's hearts—it is certainly not what anybody wants, but we can't continue the way we are going. We need some kind of resolution. Right now the division within the church is causing everyone pain. It prevents us from doing the work of the church." Patricia Miller, executive director, Confessing Movement.

• "To speak about separation is not the United Methodist way. We believe as we conference together truth emerges and these are people who do not want to conference." Methodist Bishop Joseph Pennell of Virginia.

• "I have no interest in calling for a separation. If we are going to remain together, we need to be able to create space … for persons to live out what they think is authentic to the gospel." Bruce Robbins, former general secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity.

• "It's obvious that the legislation that we've had in place thus far has not worked. When you have a total community so committed to ideology that they are willing together to violate the church, then we've got to seek other ways to respond to that." —Maxie Dunnam, chancellor, Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.

Related Elsewhere:

Also posted today is No-Fault Division? a Christianity Today editorial on amicable denominational splits and Pondering a Divorce a report on the United Methodist General Conference.

Other Christianity Today articles about the United Methodist General Convention include:

Methodists Back Away from Breakup | Evangelicals shelve call for 'amicable separation.' (May 07, 2004)
United Methodist Conservatives Seek 'Amicable' Split | Despite gains, evangelicals say Methodist divisions over homosexuality are 'irreconcilable.' (May 06, 2004)
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Methodists Strengthen Stand Against Homosexual Practice | Lesbian pastor may not be reappointed. (May 05, 2004)

Christianity Today articles about United Methodist church trials include:

Lesbian Is Eligible for Reappointment, Bishop Says | Differing interpretations of Methodist court ruling prolong denomination's fight. (May 06, 2004)
Weblog: Methodist Council Says Homosexuality Is 'Incompatible' with Christian Teaching (May 03, 2004)
Flouting Church Law | Two gay controversies likely to dominate United Methodist General Conference this week. (May 2004)
A Methodist Mob Mugging | There are real victims in the farce that was the Methodist church trial of a lesbian minister. (March 25, 2004)
Weblog: Methodist Court Acquits Homosexual Minister (March 22, 2004)
Weblog: Methodist Trial Opens With Arrests, Comparison to Crucifixion (March 18, 2004)
Weblog: In the United Methodist Church, a Trial Comes After the Court's Decision (Dec. 18, 2001)
Christian History Corner: Heresy, Salvation, and Jack the Ripper | Why heresy trials will have to do, until something better comes along. (Feb. 28, 2003)

Other Christianity Today articles about mainline churches and evangelicalism includes:

Turning the Mainline Around | New sociological studies show that evangelicals may well succeed at renewing wayward Protestantism. (July 25, 2003)
'Confessing' Christians Stick It Out | Some conservatives, however, give up on reforming their denominations. (November 27, 2001)
Will Presbyterians Embrace 'Confessing Movement'? | Conservatives threaten to withhold money if national leadership doesn't agree with affirmations. (May 9, 2001)
Mainstreaming the Mainline | Methodist evangelicals pull a once 'incurably liberal' denomination back toward the orthodox center. (August 18, 2000)

The United Methodist Church web site has more information about the denomination, as well as a section on the General Conference 2004.

For articles on related denominational disputes, see Christianity Today's church life, and sexuality and gender archives.

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