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Despite clear gains for evangelicals this week during the United Methodist global conference in Pittsburgh, some conservative leaders are now calling for the "amicable separation" of the 10-million-member denomination.

"We feel that the time has come to end this cycle of pain and conflict," said Bill Hinson, president of the Confessing Movement, a renewal group representing 675,000 conservative Methodists. "We feel that the gulf is too wide, the differences are irreconcilable—and we cannot bridge these."

Hinson and other leaders of conservative groups are now proposing that the opposing camps go their separate ways. Hinson said, "It would be a new denomination, complete with our Methodist heritage and doctrines. "But they wouldn't want us to have the United Methodist name and we wouldn't want them to have the United Methodist name.

"So rather than having a winner or a loser here—as you would in a split—this is to be an amicable separation, so I'm sure both would continue to carry the best of Wesley's tradition."

Delegate representatives of the General Conference, the top legislative body in global Methodism, which meets every four years, are expected to propose a resolution to appoint a task force that would plan for the division of United Methodist Church. For the resolution to be considered by the Conference, delegates would have to suspend the rules because the resolution is not currently on the agenda. The resolution would then face a vote for approval to go into effect.

Written by Hinson, the anticipated resolution states: "Be it resolved that the General Conference create a special task group to prepare a recommended process by which United Methodism will amicably separate, with the report of the task group to be presented ...

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May 2004

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