Written by David Mekeel
WEST LAWN — Bishop Peggy Johnson stressed unity on Saturday morning as she addressed more than 100 people seated on the wooden pews at West Lawn United Methodist Church.
“We are still the United Methodist Church and there is no schism,” she said. “We love each other too much.”
That’s a poignant message right now for the denomination, which is in the midst of a heated internal battle over LGBTQ issues.
At the denomination’s general conference last month, delegates voted to reinforce the bans on gay marriage and LGBTQ clergy, passing what is known as the Traditional Plan. It passed by a slim margin, with 53 percent of the 832 delegates supporting the plan.
As a result, there has been friction between traditionalists and more progressive portions of the denomination, which preferred a plan that would have allowed individual churches to make their own decisions on LGBTQ issues.
Some inside and outside of the denomination have speculated the differences will split the Methodists.
With the results of the general conference such a hot topic among members of the denomination, Johnson, who leads the the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, which includes Berks County, decided it was best to speak directly to congregants and clergy. So she traveled to West Lawn on Saturday.
“We do love our church, and love to get our facts straight,” she said with a laugh. Continue reading…