United Methodist Church (UMC) is still in need of prayer when it
comes to full inclusion of its LGBTQ parishioners.
the hopes of avoiding a schism, the Council of Bishops has just
recently recommended the One Church Plan that would grant individual
ministers and regional church bodies the decision to ordain LGBTQs as
clergy and to perform LGBTQ weddings. It is believed that such a
decision on a church-by-church and regional basis would reflect the
diversity as well as affirm the different churches and cultures
throughout the global body of UMC.
One Church Plan, however, is one of three proposed plans by the UMC’s
Commission on a Way Forward. The others include the Traditionalist
Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan, both exclusionary to LGBTQ
One Church Plan would excise the offensive and controversial language
targeted at LGBTQs from the Book of Discipline and replace it with a
more compassion, accurate, up-to-date, and contextualized language
about human sexuality in support of the mission and all its
UMC continues to be contradictory in its policies concerning LGBTQ
worshippers, and the church's contentious views reared its ugly head
at the 2016 meeting of global delegates.
example, while UMC states that we have and are of the same sacred
worth as heterosexuals, and that the church is committed to the
ministry of all people regardless of gender identities and sexual
orientations. However, the church also views queer sexualities as
sinful. The Book of Discipline states that sexuality is “God’s
good gift to all persons” and that people are “fully
human only when their sexuality is acknowledged and affirmed by
themselves, the church and society.”
this rule is not applicable to LGBTQs.
the church’s conservative and liberal wings merged in 1968 to
become the UMC, it has implemented stricter positions against us. In
1972, for example, UMC delegates inserted in The Book of Discipline
that as a church body, “We do not condone the practice of
homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian
1984, the delegates barred from its general conference clerics who
were “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” And in 1996,
the UMC gave the ecclesiastical order that prohibited “ceremonies
that celebrate homosexual unions,” which was affirmed by the
Methodists’ high court in 1998. The church also maintains its
policy requiring heterosexual clerics to remain faithful in their
marriages, and for both unmarried heterosexual and LGBTQ clerics to
the One Church Plan would uphold the religious freedom and thereby
safeguard those clerics and conferences unwilling to ordain or marry
us because of their theological convictions. (This is an ongoing
contentious battle among religious conservatives that many LGBTQs
contests codify discrimination against us. The “Masterpiece
Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission," is one such case.
In fall 2018, The Supreme Court will argue the parameters of one’s
right to practice their religion and their right to express
themselves freely that’s enshrined in the First Amendment.)
General Conference in 2016 in Portland the struggle to move the
church’s moral compass against its anti-LGBTQ policies was
courageously demonstrated when over 100 United Methodist Church(UMC)
ministers and faith leaders came out to their churches - with then
Rev. Jay Williams of Union United Methodist Church in Boston’s
South End as one of them.
UMC’s history of struggle on this issue clearly illustrates the
defiant will for LGBTQ inclusion.
example, in 2013, the Reverend Frank Schaefer, pastor at Zion United
Methodist Church of Iona in Pennsylvania, was forced to stand trial
for officiating his son’s 2007 same-sex nuptials.
love him so much and didn't want to deny him that joy. I had to
follow my heart,” Schaefer told the New York Daily News.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Church, however,
wanted to drill home to Schaefer and his allies that he —
irrespective of familial love or Christian belief — blatantly
and willfully violated the church’s law book, the Book of
Discipline, prohibiting same-sex marriages.
June 2011 more than 100 Methodist ministers in New England have
pledged to marry LGBTQ couples in defiance of the denomination’s
ban on same-sex unions. Approximately one out of nine Methodist
clerics signed a statement pledging to open their churches to LGBTQ
couples that stated, “We repent that it has taken us so long to
act… We realize that our church’s discriminatory
policies tarnish the witness of the church to the world, and we are
where Methodist clerics in New England stand on same-sex marriages,
Schaefer officiated his son’s nuptials here in Massachusetts.
it is clear that the UMC is not in lockstep with the changing
societal tide toward LGBTQ acceptance, it is also not in lockstep
with its own more progressive arm of "reconciling and inclusive"
congregations. Union United Methodist Church (UUMC), a predominately
African American congregation located in Boston’s South End —
once the epicenter of the city's LGBTQ community — is one of
them. And it is the one institution least expected to be lauded among
LGBTQ people of African descent because of the Black Church's
notorious history of homophobia. But UUMC is a movement, and when its
pastor came out, it was an example of full inclusion as a welcoming
hope the One Church Plan be the solution to a roiling church body. In
2018 to still be fighting for LGBTQ full inclusion puts the UMC in
question rather than its LGBTQ parishioners.