(RNS) — The United Methodist Church’s deadline for petitions for its next global meeting passed Wednesday (Sept. 18), setting the terms for a final reckoning with LGBTQ issues that have divided the denomination for more than 40 years. 

The UMC’s General Conference 2020, to be held in May in Minneapolis, will consider the structure of what church leaders hope can be an amicable, and orderly, breakup of a worldwide church that is the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States. The various plans come in response to a vote earlier this year by the church’s decision-making body to strengthen language barring LGBTQ United Methodists from ordination and marriage.

That decision came in February at a special session of the General Conference that approved the conservative

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