United Methodist Church votes to allow openly gay clergy

The worldwide United Methodist Church (UMC) has voted to allow practising homosexual men and women to become ministers.

During the denomination’s international General Conference, delegates voted by 692 to 51 to remove the prohibition against “self-avowed practicing” homosexual clergy as part of wider proposals approved without debate. In a separate vote of 523 to 161, the denomination ditched its declaration that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”.

Since 2019, over 7,600 congregations have left the UMC over biblical sexual ethics. Despite church law, the denomination appointed its first bishop in a same-sex marriage in 2016 followed by another in 2022.

Same-sex weddings

The General Conference has now redefined marriage as a covenant between an “adult man and adult woman of consenting age or two adult persons of consenting age”, and district church leaders can no longer forbid a church in their area from hosting same-sex weddings.

Where previously UMC churches were prohibited from using funds to “promote the acceptance of homosexuality”, they will now be banned from funding initiatives deemed to “reject any LGBTQIA+ person or openly discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people”.

Revd Jerry Kulah, a delegate from Liberia, warned that the conference’s decisions represent “a serious drift away from the truth”.

He emphasised: “The church is now buying into culture. The Bible has not changed, but the church has changed.”

Great Britain

The governing body of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, which is separate to the UMC, voted in 2021 to redefine marriage, conduct same-sex weddings and affirm cohabitation.

Representatives at the church’s annual Conference consented “in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples” by 254 votes to 46. The Conference also endorsed “informal cohabitation”, equating it to marriage.

But Sam McBratney, Chairman of the pro-LGBT lobby group Dignity and Worth, confirmed that ministers in the denomination would still be able to preach faithfully on biblical sexual ethics.

Also see:

Methodist Church brands terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ offensive

CofE allows same-sex partners to be blessed in Sunday services

Jayne Ozanne: ‘Repentance unnecessary for salvation’

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