On Tuesday, February 26, after three days of intense debate at a conference in St. Louis, 53% to 47 % voted that The United Methodist Church strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages. After years of working to build the bridge between the church and the LGBT community, this was a slap in the face community. Church officials from around the world doubled down on current church policy that states, “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Now, some pastors and bishops in the United States are leaving the denomination and possibly creating a new alliance for gay-friendly churches.
“Marriage and ordination of homosexual persons is not a church-dividing issue,” Rev. Tom Berlin, lead pastor of Floris United Methodist Church said, “It’s a difficult conversation, but we’ve had those in the past with other issues, such as divorce and alcohol use. I believe we have the muscle strength to show the world we can have unity with diverse opinions.”
“This decision that the Methodist Church took on the LGBTQ community take us into a place of rejection, to a place of that we are welcomed to a point.” Pastor Robert Arrington of the Unity Fellowship Church Charleston said. “What the Methodist Church is saying, “We are really not open and affirming and we only tolerate you. Not totally ACCEPT as you are”. In my denomination, we are a MOVEMENT. We believe that love is unconditional cannot be define by gender. Again this is rejection.”
The Methodist Church is taking the LGBTQ community back to a place of loneliness and enforcing that God did make you that LGBTQ and God the Creator in no one can use YOU , Because you are LGBTQ.”
In fact,6 in 10 United Methodists in the United States believe homosexuality should be accepted, however, what has happened on Tuesday is an effort to weaken the Church, NOT strengthen it. “Despite the unjust plan, members of the church remain committed to justice, inclusion, and the full love of Christ for LGBTQIA+ people in The UMC. This has been the charge of reconciliation since the language, so harmful to so many lives, was added labeling a part of God’s good creation”, The Reconciling Ministries Network states.
“The news yesterday about the United Methodist Church and it’s vote to not be inclusive and affirming has got me thinking about my childhood in that church. That church let me down when I needed them the most, and 25 years later they are still letting us down.” Bret Shuford shares. “However, God is not the church and the Church does not speak for God. You and all my Queer brothers and sisters we are Children of God. You are perfect the way God made you, I love you, God loves you. Thank you to all the queer and queer friendly clergy who defended an open church. This is not a church abandoning us, this is a church abandoning God.”
Now, at a local point of view, many congerations are opening their arms to those being turned away such as The Unitarian church in Charleston and Unity Fellowship Church Charleston.
As Tom Berlin said, remember, “God is love”