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United Methodist Church Keeps Ban On Same-Sex Weddings, LGBTQ Clergy

Ed Rowe, left, Rebecca Wilson, Robin Hager and Jill Zundel, react to the defeat of a proposal that would allow LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage within the United Methodist Church. (Sid Hastings/AP)
Ed Rowe, left, Rebecca Wilson, Robin Hager and Jill Zundel, react to the defeat of a proposal that would allow LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage within the United Methodist Church. (Sid Hastings/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

The United Methodist Church votes to maintain a ban on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage. Is a schism inevitable? We put that to a roundtable of Methodist voices.


Rev. Rachel Cornwell, ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. Part of the extended clergy team at Foundry United Methodist. ( @rachcornwell)

Rev. Tom Lambrecht, ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. He submitted the legislation maintaining the denomination’s rules against LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriages. Vice president and general manager of the Methodist magazine “Good News.” ( @revtlambrecht)

Brett Krutzsch, religion professor at Haverford College focusing on sexuality, race and LGBTQ history. ( @BrettKrutzsch)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “ Reeling from contentious LGBT vote, some Methodists pledge to fight while others mull leaving” — “Dumbarton United Methodist Church is the oldest United Methodist congregation in Washington, D.C., dating almost 200 years before the United Methodist denomination was created — even before the United States was created.

“On Wednesday, when the church’s minister, the Rev. Mary Kay Totty, traveled back to Washington from a groundbreaking meeting in St. Louis, where the denomination decided to uphold its opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy, she said she thought that centuries-old history might be at a breaking point.

“‘To think of not being Methodist,’ she said, then stopped, unable to complete the sentence. Dumbarton voted to affirm gay worshipers more than 30 years ago, and the church has performed 20 same-sex marriages since 2010, breaking the rules of the denomination every time. Now such actions will be met with much harsher penalties.

“‘I will not comply with unjust rules,’ Totty said. ‘At this point, all possibilities are on the table for consideration, whether that’s affiliating with another denomination, starting a new Methodist denomination, or remaining in this denomination and continuing to work for justice.’

“The meeting in St. Louis, which concluded Tuesday evening with 53 percent of the clergy and lay leaders from around the world voting in favor of the ‘traditional plan’ to keep banning same-sex marriages and noncelibate gay clergy, was meant to settle this question that has divided Methodists for years.”

The Atlantic: “ Conservative Christians Just Retook the United Methodist Church” — “The United Methodist Church has fractured over the role of LGBTQ people in the denomination. At a special conference in St. Louis this week, convened specifically to address divisions over LGBTQ issues, members voted to toughen prohibitions on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy. This was a surprise: The denomination’s bishops, its top clergy, pushed hard for a resolution that would have allowed local congregations, conferences, and clergy to make their own choices about conducting same-sex marriages and ordaining LGBTQ pastors. This proposal, called the “One Church Plan,” was designed to keep the denomination together. Methodist delegates rejected its recommendations, instead choosing the so-called Traditional Plan, which affirmed the denomination’s teachings against homosexuality.

“This is a consequential vote for the future of the United Methodist Church: Many progressive churches will now almost certainly consider leaving the denomination. It’s also a reminder that many Christian denominations, including mainline groups such as the UMC, are still deeply divided over questions of sexuality and gender identity. While the UMC in the United States is roughly evenly divided between those who identify as traditionalists and those who identify as moderates and liberals, it is also a global organization. Many of the growing communities in the Philippines or countries in Africa are committed to theological teachings against same-sex relationships and marriages.”

Wall Street Journal: “ Methodists Reject Plan to Open Door to Gay Marriage” — “The United Methodist Church shot down a plan that would have opened the door to gay marriage in the church on Tuesday, a blow to theological liberals that exposes the rift within the third-largest Christian denomination in the U.S.

“At the Methodists’ General Conference in St. Louis, conservative delegates soundly defeated the One Church Plan, which would have allowed some churches to celebrate same-sex weddings and ordain lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clergy while permitting other churches not to do so. Church officials had pushed the plan as the best way to keep the denomination together.

“Instead, delegates at the convention approved the Traditional Plan, which keeps in place rules that prohibit same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT clergy. In addition, it adds measures to crack down on clergy members who disobey those rules.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.