The United Methodist Church (UMC) has voted to keep its ban on same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy.
The Church’s General Conference, which included delegates from around the world, reinforced the Church’s stance that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching”.
An estimated 12 million people worldwide belong to the UMC. It is America’s second-largest Protestant denomination.
The Church’s policy was established in 1972, and its reaffirmation is intended to offer a consistent strategy for dealing with issues such as homosexuality.
The UMC states that all people are of “worth” but that homosexual behaviour is wrong, and clergy can be removed from their positions if they affirm same-sex marriage.
The conference voted to defeat a proposal to allow local congregations to contradict the Church’s official position.
Speaking for the UMC, Bishop Scott Jones said: “This decision resolves a long-standing debate about how we can best accomplish our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
“Our views on same-sex marriage have not changed.”
Several members from African nations spoke out in support of the decision.
Revd Jerry Kulah, from Liberia, said: “Today the church in Africa is growing in leaps and bounds because we are committed to biblical Christianity”.