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Arts & Culture

Where Do North Carolina Methodists Fall In Church’s Growing Schism?

A young woman stands in front of a lake holding two small rainbow pride flags.
Lilly Knoepp
Robin Tate Uhl hopes to become a Methodist minister one day. Based on the current United Methodist Book of Discipline, she would not be allowed to be ordained as an intersex lesbian woman.

Every year, members of the United Methodist Church gather for their annual Western North Carolina conference at Lake Junaluska in Haywood County. Top of mind at this year’s meeting was the Traditional Plan, a ruling enacted at the general conference in late February that enshrines punitive measures to reinforce the church’s ban on gay clergy and prohibition against gay weddings. The Traditional Plan has emphasized a growing divide between conservative and progressive camps within the United Methodist Church.

At the annual conference in June, Western North Carolina Methodists made a statement by electing 40 delegates to head to the general conference – all progressive. The vote stemmed from a local movement to recruit progressives to run as potential delegates. The 40 representatives will join next year’s general conference where the debate over the Traditional Plan will continue. Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Western North Carolina reporter Lilly Knoepp attended the annual conference in Haywood County. She joins guest host Anita Rao to talk about the state of the United Methodist Church and the growing schism between progressive and traditional Methodists.
Plus, the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes have declared a state of emergency for their language. Last week they agreed to work together to preserve the language with at this time is only fluently spoken by 2500 people worldwide. Knoepp gives an update on this declaration and plans to save their native language.

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