Big changes could be coming for the United Methodist Church after ongoing debates over LGBTQ clergy and gay marriage.
"The 2016 General Conference again decided for many decades that self-avowed practicing homosexuality is not compatible with United Methodist ministry," explained Jon Tellifero, pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church in Lafayette.
Tellifero says after that decision was made, a faction of the church elected an openly gay bishop, who was also in a same-sex marriage.
He says the move prompted the governing body of the church to create stricter rules that would remove clergy who did not adhere to traditional guidelines.
"When that was decided, it created quite a stir among Methodists," Tellifero said, "Like it is with the general public, it is a polarizing conversation."
Unable to find common ground on the issue, a group of 16 church leaders is proposing a split, allowing those to support the LBGTQ community to break away from the church's more traditional body. Tellifero feels the move could tear the church apart.
"We're being forced to make a decision that we're not ready to make, and that is who is clergy members based upon human sexuality and it is very divisive and it is offending many people across the spectrum," he added.
The plan will go before the 2020 General Conference for approval.