United Methodist Church upholds plan to restrict LGBTI inclusion

Methodists at Captial Pride

The United Methodist Church’s (UMC) judicial council upheld a new plan which strengthens bans on LGBTI inclusion on Friday (26 April).

This includes banning same-sex weddings and the ordination of LGBTI pastors.

The move comes amid ongoing speculation that the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America could break up because of disputes surrounding LGBTI rights.

The policy, called the Traditional Plan, could go into effect by 1 January next year.

While conservative elements of the UMC welcomed the council’s ruling, opponents to the Traditional Plan expressed dismay.

Liberal and centrist elements of the UMC have vowed to increase their resistance to the policy, the Washington Post reports.

Set to go into effect at the start of 2020

The nine-person council ruled in favor of the Traditional Plan following a four-day meeting in Illinois.

While they found some aspects of the policy to be unconstitutional, the council upheld the bulk of the plan.

It is now set to go into effect at the start of 2020.

The Traditional Plan was first voted in by 438-384 votes from Methodist delegates at a special UMC conference in St. Louis in February.

Most of the US-based delegates opposed the plan and supported LGBTI-inclusive options.

However, US conservatives rallied Methodist delegates from Africa and the Philippines to vote through the policy. Africa and the Philippines are two Methodist strongholds with fierce anti-LGBTI beliefs.

While opponents of the Traditional Plan will have the chance to overturn the policy at the UMC’s next general conference in May next year, this seems unlikely to happen.

Analysts have predicted that the UMC’s conservative base will have become even stronger by the time of the conference.

Long-running dispute 

The dispute over LGBTI inclusion in the UMC has been brewing for decades.

The UMC has 12.6 million members around the world, with almost seven million living in the US.

While official UMC policy has largely been anti-LGBTI, LGBTI bans have been inconsistently enforced.

Several UMC churches have performed same-sex ceremonies, sometimes while flying rainbow flags in support of LGBTI rights. A number of pastors have also come out while at the pulpit.

With the Traditional Plan set to go into effect, there will be increased speculation that the church will split.

It seems likely that the conservatives base will remain in the UMC, while the liberal and centrist factions break off from the main church.

Author: Calum Stuart

The post United Methodist Church upholds plan to restrict LGBTI inclusion appeared first on Gay Star News.

Tampa Bay United Methodist clergy to defy the Church’s LGBTI ban

The sign outside Allendale's UMC, apologizing to the LGBTI community on behalf of the Church

On 26 February, international delegates from the United Methodist Church voted to uphold bans on the LGBTI community. This included rejecting a proposal which would allow regional church bodies to decide whether or not to ordain members of the LGBTI community and perform same-sex weddings. Additionally, they upheld a ‘Traditional Plan’ which would penalize clergy people who break these rules.

However, the Church’s Tampa Bay clergy have vowed to defy this LGBTI ban.

Tell Me More

According to Tampa Bay Times, following the conference, clergymen in Florida had their own ideas for how the Tampa Bay congregation will respond.

‘This outcome is a profound disappointment to many of us who were pushing for greater justice and equality,’ Rev. Magrey deVega, senior pastor at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, wrote in a 27 February letter to his congregation.

‘A lot of tears have been falling. We weep together, among the LGBTQ persons who are stunned, saddened, and harmed by this news,’ he continued. ‘We weep among the thousands of young clergy and laity in our denomination who are angered and disillusioned.’

History of defying the Church

Rev. Andy Oliver of Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida told Tampa Bay Times that churches in the United States have long defied the Church’s LGBTI policies and this will not change.

‘Clergy like myself have been openly officiating same-sex marriages,’ he said. ‘The church calls us, when we see laws that are unjust, to dissent. So I have been practicing that at the risk of losing my orders.’

He added that the majority of American delegates at the conference supported the change. Additionally, he says, the Traditional Plan may soon be deemed unconstitutional by the Church’s judicial body.

‘The entire Western region of the church declared at the end of the conference they will continue to ignore the church’s discriminatory laws.’

‘We are not leaving,’ he stated. ‘The conservative faction of the church, even before the conference, said they did want to leave. So what did pass was an exit plan which may open the door for some churches to leave and form their own denomination.’

Still, Oliver worries about the implications of the vote to uphold the Traditional Plan.

‘The immediate effect is the harm done to the LGBTQ community and specifically children and youth,’ he said. ‘These are the kids that are at the highest risk for suicide and when a young person is sent the message that they are not loved by God that has life and death implications.’

Anything else?

Oliver’s Allendale United Methodist Church took out a full-page ad in the Tampa Bay Times. In the ad, they apologize to the LGBTI community on behalf of the Church.

See Also:

United Methodist Church appoints first transgender deacon

The Methodist Church fires pastor for officiating a lesbian wedding

Methodist church’s highest court rejects first openly lesbian bishop

Author: Rafaella Gunz

The post Tampa Bay United Methodist clergy to defy the Church’s LGBTI ban appeared first on Gay Star News.