Three openly gay candidates have been nominated as bishops in the United Methodist Church.
Rev Dr Karen Oliveto, Rev Frank Wulf and Rev David Meredith have been nominated for the office of bishop in two jurisdictions – Western and North Central – in the US, according to the Reconciling Ministries Network.
The United Methodist denomination, a world communion that has seen tensions between its liberal US branch and conservatives elsewhere, particularly in Africa, has a Book of Discipline which currently states that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching".
At the denomination's quadrennial General Conference last month, the issue of homosexuality was intentionally not discussed. It has instead created a commission to discuss the conflict within the Church and prepare for a potential special session on the subject in 2018 or 2019.
In the meantime, "many, many annual (jurisdictional) conferences are refusing to comply with the Book of Discipline, openly ordaining LGBT people, passing resolutions that affirm the image of God in transgender people and really building on the pivot that was implemented at General Conference," wrote executive director of Reconciling Ministries, Matt Berryman.
In the US, United Methodist bishops are elected in the jurisdictional conferences and any elder in "full connection" is eligible.
The United Methodist Church comprises some regions where moves have been made to ensure that the book of discipline is upheld, while others have taken active steps to include of the LGBT community.
"It would be hard to imagine how anybody could avoid drawing the conclusion that the ball is rolling quite rapidly now," said Berryman.
Christian Today has approached the United Methodist Church for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publishing.