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-‘United’ Methodists No Longer When It Comes to Homosexuality?

by Dr. D ~ June 19th, 2014


(UMC logo: Wikipedia)

For years members of the United Methodist Church have been battling over homosexuality at their annual denominational conference. Now there is a serious proposal being considered by the Methodists to allow their area conferences and local congregations to choose for themselves their own individual stances on homosexuality.

Many believe that it would be the end of the denomination if it should go that direction. Nevertheless they are at the crossroads on this issue one way or another.

Here’s the story from OneNewsNow:

The idea of allowing United Methodist congregations to choose their individual stance on homosexuality continues to draw both support and opposition. 

The proposal to let churches decide on homosexuality comes from Revs. Adam Hamilton, Michael Slaughter and other United Methodists. It also calls for letting annual conferences decide to depart from the Book of Discipline by ordaining open and practicing homosexual pastors. …

A group of clergy, theologians and laity wrote a letter to Hamilton and Slaughter stating their opposition. Hamilton has since responded, saying the proposal would not end Methodism, as some have warned. Hamilton adds that he wants to hold the denomination together.

<Read the whole article>

Response: The United Methodist Church is an interesting case when it comes to the issue of homosexuality and the Bible. The UMC congregations in New England and on the West Coast are far more liberal than those in the South and Midwest and have been pushing for the acceptance of gay clergy and lately same-sex marriage. However,their efforts to change the denominational stance has been frustrated by the more conservative and evangelical oriented congregations in the South where the denomination is still the strongest in numbers.

Lately there have been several controversies surrounding ministers who have officiated at same-sex ceremonies regardless of the denominational rules. When those in question received little more than a hand slapping if that from their Bishops it caused quite a stir among the more conservative leaders in the church.

The denomination is in real danger of fracturing over the issue and this is a last ditch effort to allow the more liberal members to do what they want without leaving the church. However, if the local congregations and conferences were allowed to decide for themselves on this issue then there would be a major division in the church and clergy from one conference in the denomination might not be recognized by another particularly if the minister in question was gay.

Recently we wrote that every church in America would soon be forced to openly declare their stance when it comes to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.  Can a whole denomination dodge this issue by letting the local church declare their own stand and remain a viable organization? I really don’t think so.

It would be particularly problematic with the traditional Methodist polity that invests a great deal of power and authority in the area Bishops.  What if a local Methodist congregation decides on a stance which is different than their own Bishop’s declared position? How would that play out? I suspect that the ‘United’ Methodists will not be so united in the future.            *Top

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