The United Methodist Church is expected to split into more than one denomination in an attempt to bring to a close a years-long and contentious fight over same-sex marriage.

The historic schism would divide the third-largest religious denomination in the United States.

Leaders of the church announced Friday they had agreed to spin off a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination, which would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and to refuse ordination to LGBT clergy, while allowing the remaining portion of the United Methodist Church to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.

The plan would need to be approved in May at the denomination’s worldwide conference.

The writers of the plan called the division “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”

The United Methodist Church is the United States’ largest mainline Protestant denomination and among the only remaining such churches that still does not perform same-sex marriages. The church has fought bitterly about LGBT inclusion for years, and leaders often feared the fight would lead to a schism.

SOURCE : The Washington Post.