Methodist church in Roanoke keeps the faith amid talks of possible denominational split

United Methodist Church may splinter in two due to debate concerning LGBTQ rights

ROANOKE, Va. – Greene Memorial United Methodist Church Pastor Philip Waltz says his message has always been that anyone can hear the word of God.

“It’s about relationships: relationships in the pew and relationships with God,” Waltz said.

While Waltz maintains his stance, the worldwide Methodist debate about whether same-sex marriages and LGBTQ clergy members should be allowed may cause the United Methodist Church itself to split in two.

“Just speaking as an individual, not as a representative of the church, I think it was inevitable," Waltz said. “We live in a time that’s very polarized, and the church is no exception.”

The United Methodist Church recently sent out a plan detailing a possible separation of the church’s more traditionalist branch from the denomination. Methodists will likely vote on the proposal during their general conference this year.

The developments come after Methodists narrowly voted to uphold its ban on same-sex marriages and LGBTQ clergy members during last year’s general conference. Waltz and Greene Memorial organized a special, LGBTQ-inclusive church service shortly after the Methodists’ vote.

“We’ve become what’s called a reconciling congregation," Waltz said. "We are not only welcoming of LGBTQ members, but affirming of who they are.”

Waltz says Greene Memorial will continue to be inclusive, no matter what happens to the United Methodist Church.

“This congregation believes in that, and that’s the spirit regardless of what the denomination does," Waltz said.

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