On Saturday (23 February), international delegates from the United Methodist Church gathered for a conference in St. Louis, Missouri. One of the topics discussed over the four-day event was LGBTI rights, including banning same-sex marriage and ordaining gay clergy members.
The delegates voted on this matter today (26 February), the final day of the conference.
In the vote, a majority (56%) of the more than 800 delegates present supported the Traditional Plan. This maintains the aforementioned bans and also strictly enforces them.
It was formally approved by a vote of 438-384.
Others supported the opposition plan, called the One Church Plan. It called to leave such matters up to regional church bodies and remove languge from the church’s law book reading that ‘the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching’.
One such person advocating for the church to embrace LGBTI rights is Jeffrey ‘J.J.’ Warren.
Following the preliminary vote on Monday (25 February), the gay, aspiring pastor gave an impassioned speech to his fellow delegates.
Pain of a crucifixion
‘We desire a church that seeks the justice of God,’ Warren said of himself and other young church members. ‘A church that doesn’t waste its money on a conference and come out with no decision because it was unconstitutional.
‘The pain that would happen from this crucifixion of putting the nails in our Methodist Church, the pain of this death might be worth a resurrection, but I’d like to see first if that can happen together without being called unconstitutional with whatever we decide.’
With a rising voice, Warren talks of his time at university and spreading his evangelism.
‘We have brought people to Jesus because they said they have not heard this message before.
‘They didn’t know God could love them because their churches said God didn’t.’
Warren goes on to say he one day wants to be a pastor and preach for a church that says God loves everyone. He is met with loud applause and cheers from the audience gathered.
Many who were not there took to Twitter to praise Warren.
People also commended his bravery and supported his desire to become a pastor.
What happened with the vote
According to AP News, a majority of the support for the Traditional Plan came from overseas delegates, specifically from Africa.
Rev. Jerry Kulah of Liberia said if the bans were lessened or lifted, the ‘church in Africa would cease to exist’.
He continued: ‘We can’t do anything but to support the Traditional Plan — it is the biblical plan.
Many are predicting a schism in the church. They said they expect some progressive members to leave the church and clergy members defying the vote and continuing to perform same-sex marriages.
As for Warren, he tweeted the plans to ‘drag this cross (in heels if it comes to it) as far as we must’.
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