United Methodist Church members decided to continue to not allow LGBT clergy or same-sex marriage during a special denomination-wide conference in St. Louis on Tuesday.
The decision has been heralded as something that will split the second largest protestant congregation, with 12.5 million members globally, and cause congregations and individuals to leave.
Some supporters of greater LGBT inclusion were in tears, while others vented their anger.
"Devastation," was how former Methodist pastor Rebecca Wilson of Detroit described her feelings. "As someone who left because I’m gay, I’m waiting for the church I love to stop bringing more hate."
The Traditional Plan’s success was due to an alliance of conservatives from the U.S. and overseas. About 43 percent of the delegates are from abroad, mostly from Africa, and overwhelmingly support the LGBT bans.
Since 1972, the Christian denomination, which has around 7 million members in the United States, has barred "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from becoming clergy members and prohibited same-sex marriages in the church, saying that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."
A group of 864 appointed delegates, clergy members and laypeople, met Saturday through Tuesday in a special session of the General Conference and voted on several plans for how the church can move forward and other issues involved in ways congregations can leave, if they desire.
Earlier Tuesday, the One Church plan, supported by the denomination’s leadership and which would allow LGBT clergy and same-sex weddings but not require acceptance of it by churches, was voted down. So were other plans that in some way accepted LGBT clergy and same-sex marriages, leaving only the Traditional Plan to be decided on.
The Traditional Plan would keep the passages about homosexuals in the denomination’s book of discipline and includes mandatory penalties for those who don’t obey the church rules.
Now, members of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a group with about 300 local members and 125,000 worldwide that advocates that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that single people should be celibate, said they will likely stay, but that this is a "win" for no one.
"It’s been a painful general conference for everyone," said Brian Straub, president of the West Ohio Wesleyan Covenant Association. "This is not a time of rejoicing for anyone."
Straub said he’s sympathetic to people who don’t support the Traditional Plan, which the association has consistently been supportive of, and hopes the decision will set a path forward for the denomination.
"I would hope this puts the issue behind us. I fear it may not," Straub said. "I hope we can start to progress forward to put more time and effort on the mission of Jesus Christ."
Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.