Methodists reject a proposal to allow openly gay clergy and same-sex marriage

(CNN) — The United Methodist Church has voted to reject a proposal to allow local churches to perform same-sex weddings and hire openly LGBT clergy, a move that church leaders said will almost surely lead more liberal members to leave the mainline denomination.

The move was pitched by proponents as a way to keep the increasingly fractious denomination together amid widespread disagreements about scripture and the morality of same-sex relationships.

“Many of us have members who are saying they will leave,” said the Rev. Tom Berlin of Virginia, a member of the church’s legislative committee. “A virus of conflict will spread.”

The home church of both Hillary Clinton and Jeff Sessions, as well as an increasingly large number of Africans and Asians, the United Methodist Church has about 12.5 million members worldwide, including almost 7 million in the United States.

While United Methodists will continue to meet for a special session of the General Conference in St. Louis on Tuesday, measures to permit more leniency on LGBT issues do not appear to have enough support to pass. About 800 delegates have been attending the 3-day conference.

Tuesday morning’s vote to reject the “One Church” plan, which had support among United Methodist bishops in the United States, was 449 to 374.

Instead, United Methodists in St. Louis voted to push forward the “Traditional” plan, which would discipline clergy and churches who defied the church’s stance on same-sex relationships.

Under the “Traditional” plan, as currently constituted, churches and clergy would have to affirm the church’s stance against gay marriage and non-celibate LGBT clergy by 2021 or face removal from the denomination.

The United Methodist delegates are expected to vote on that plan later on Tuesday.

Several members from African nations stood on Tuesday to support the “Traditional” plan, saying it accords with scripture’s teachings on sexuality.

“Today the church in Africa is growing in leaps and bounds because we are committed to biblical Christianity,” said the Rev. Jerry Kulah, who is from Liberia. “You cannot be performing Christianity differently in America and Africa and suggest that we are one church.”

Several young Americans, on the other plan, pleaded to have their voices heard.

Shayla Jordan, a 21-year-old delegate from the church’s Kansas-based Great Plains Conference, said 15,000 young United Methodists had signed a petition opposing the “Traditional” plan.

“We need a church that is still alive. This is our church, too, and I have thousands of people with me urging you to hear this call,” Jordan said.

Cara Nicklas, a delegate from Oklahoma, said that she’s received numerous messages from people calling her support for the church’s current stance on LGBT relationships “mean-spirited and unloving.”

“Surely you don’t want to be united with me if I am as mean and unloving as you say,” she said. “You will not stop trying to make me fit your idea of a loving person.”

The United Methodists’ Book of Discipline states that all people are of “sacred worth” but denounces the “practice of homosexuality” as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Openly gay and lesbian clergy members can be removed from ministry, but church trials on the matter are rare.

In 2016, dozens of United Methodist clergy members came out as lesbian, gay or bisexual defying their church’s ban on “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” serving in ministry and essentially daring their supervisors to discipline them.

In a public letter posted online, 111 pastors, deacons, elders and candidates for ministry said church rules require “that we not bring our full selves to ministry, that we hide from view our sexual orientations and gender identities.”

That campaign came after a similar letter issued by 15 Methodist ministers in New York, who also openly acknowledged that they are gay or lesbian.

In some parts of the United States, openly gay clergy serve with few if any restrictions. Conservatives argue that such policies threaten to break up the church into small, self-governing branches.

For more than a decade, liberal United Methodists have sought to push the church to adopt more lenient provisions, without success.

The General Conference on Tuesday could continue into the evening, as the 800 delegates continue to debate proposals.

After the vote to reject the more liberal proposal, Reconciling Ministries, a pro-LGBT church group, tweeted, “God weeps. The Spirit rages. The children of God are undefeated.”

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5 comments

  • Common cents

    A church that follows the teachings of the bible. One can not be a Christian and approve of homosexuality, same sex marriage or abortion.

  • Bud

    When a church/religion abandons their original tenants to allow what’s currently “trending” – they were never a church/religion to begin with.

  • JVP

    When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. Does anyone have any advice on how to explain to rest of the heathens how these other passages work?
    1. Levels I 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, brothers male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense. Also I’m a woman how can I distance myself as to not contaminate anyone else?
    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
    I know some of you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
    Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

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