From the Pastor's Desk
What’s Up with the LGBTQ Stuff in the UMC?
When we held our special session of the Church Conference last week, a comment was made regarding legislation about the participation of LGBTQ persons in the United Methodist Church. And
while this conversation is on-going, there will not be any legislation, anything to vote on at this
session of Annual Conference.
A bit of history around the questions of human sexuality and the church:
For four decades, the United Methodist Church has struggled with the question of human sexuality, and the place in the church of people who are in what we now call the LGBTQ community.
For three decades, questions that have come to the floor of the Annual Conference include whether or not LGBTQ folks should be allowed to marry, should our clergy be allowed to do those services,
should they be allowed on our church properties, should LGBTQ persons be accepted for ordination and sent to serve in our congregations.
For one decade, the UMC has openly wrestled, as a denomination, with these questions. At General Conference 2008, there was an UNOFFICIAL document circulated, suggesting a split in the
denomination; CNN caught wind of that document and reported (in error) that the UMC had split.
As the United States has moved more and more to the point of legalizing same-gender marriage, equal rights to same-gender families, the discussion has heated to the point of scorching.
Keeping in mind that we are GLOBAL CHURCH (nearly half of all United Methodists do not live in the United States), and the laws and cultures and contexts of other countries are also a part of this
conversation, any thinking person can see that it is an onerous process to find a way forward that will bring resolution that will enable ministry and mission to flourish in the years to come.
At General Conference 2016, the delegates voted to table (not vote on) all the legislation surrounding the topic of participation of LGBTQ persons in the UMC, and instead charged the Council of
Bishops to come up with a way forward. In response, the Council of Bishops appointed a Commission on the Way Forward. This diverse body of United Methodists, representing the vast diversity of
our church, have been working toward, well, a way forward.
The Commission on the Way Forward has been diligent in doing their work and have presented thei findings in a final report to the Council of Bishops. The Council of Bishops will be bringing items before
the Special Session of General Conference, schedule for late February in 2019 in St. Louis, MO.
General Conference will entertain legislation and conversation around this issue, and this issue alone. Once decisions have been made, any legislation that is passed must then be ratified by the Annual Conferences (within the US) and the Central Conferences (outside the US). If you would like to see more about the work of the Commission on the Way forward, click here: http://s3.amazonaws.com/Website_Properties/news-media/press-center/documents/COWF_July_2017_Report_Final.pdf