United Methodist Church (UMC) delegates meeting Tuesday in St. Louis voted to strengthen the church's bans on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT clergy.

On the third and final day of the UMC's meeting, delegates voted down a proposal that sought to allow local and regional church bodies to decide on such issues.

A proposal put forth by conservatives, called the Traditional Plan, was approved by a vote of 438-384, the AP reported. The Traditional Plan beefs up enforcement of the church's bans.

The plan had overwhelming support from delegates from abroad, mostly Africa.

The Rev. Jerry Kulah of Liberia told the AP that easing the bans would devastate the church in Africa.

“We can't do anything but to support the Traditional Plan,” Kulah said. “It is the biblical plan.”

Passage of the Traditional Plan is expected to lead to a surge in defections from the church in the United States, where more than half of the faith's 12.6 million members live.