United Methodists Makes A suprise Move, Embraces Gay Clergy

United Methodists have overwhelmingly reversed an initiative forbidding gay clergy from ordination in the religion, marking a watershed moment for the country’s second-largest Protestant body. Delegates to the General Conference revoked the ban on the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” without debate, indicating a major move toward inclusion. The international organization, which has around 11 million members, joins liberal Protestant groups such as the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (United States of America), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ, which also ordains LGBTQ pastors.

The motion was part of a wider sequence of calendar items voted on in bulk, including a motion preventing superintendents from disciplining clergy for conducting a same-sex wedding or prohibiting a church from holding a same-sex marriage. The calendar items passed by a vote of 692-51, or almost 93%.

united, u.m.c
delegates and LGBTQ Advocates during the conference on wednesday

The votes overturned discriminatory measures against LGBTQ persons adopted at the denomination’s 2019 General Convention when delegates backed up and reinforced bans on homosexual clergy and same-sex marriage. Most of the 2019 initiatives have now been revoked. Following the 2019 General Convention, around 7,600 orthodox congregations in the United States—roughly 25% of the total number of U.S. churches—left the denomination, concerned that the tightening of the bans would not hold. However, the absence of delegates from congregations that had left the denomination was responsible for the swift reversal of the policy.

In addition, Several other bills were adopted on Tuesday, including one that eliminates required minimum penalties for clergy who conduct same-sex marriages and forbids financing for LGBTQ charities that “promote acceptance of homosexuality.” The Rev. Tom Lambrecht, vice president and general manager of Good News Magazine, a theologically conservative advocacy group, said the votes were expected. “It indicates a consensus in the United Methodist Church that it wants to go down a much more liberal pathway,” said Lambrecht, who formerly served as a United Methodist pastor.

Furthermore, on Wednesday, the General Conference voted to eliminate the pathway to disaffiliation that was created in 2019. It also directed annual conferences to develop policies inviting disaffiliated churches to return to the fold if they wished. A bigger decision to remove from the rule book, known as the Book of Discipline, a 1972 addendum that states homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” is still up for vote.

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The main group opposing the changes in policy toward LGBTQ people were some African delegates, many of whom live in countries where homosexuality is illegal. “We see homosexuality as a sin,” said Forbes Matonga, the pastor of a church in West Zimbabwe. “So to us, this is a fundamental theological difference where we think others no longer regard the authority of Scripture.”

U.S. Methodists hope that a radical realignment of the worldwide church would give different regions greater equity to tailor church life to their customs and traditions, including on issues related to sexuality.

Bishop Ken Carter of the Western North Carolina Conference said he wanted to acknowledge the church’s historic step toward inclusion.

“We’ve singled out one group for discrimination for 52 years,” he remarked. “And we’ve done that on an understanding of homosexuality whose origins came when it was understood to be a disease and a disorder.”

He stated that this has now changed.


Content Credit/  Ajibola Emmanuel Adebayo

Picture Credit/ https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/19/us/united-methodist-church-to-reassess-rules-on-gays-and-marriage.html


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