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United Methodists push back against LGBT clergy

United Methodists push back against LGBT clergy

Religion News Service reports that 1,500 United Methodists have formed the Wesleyan Covenant Association in response to the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, who is openly lesbian, and ordination of LGBT ministers. The association meets this week in Chicago and asserts that its intent is not to leave the United Methodist Church, but try to reverse its “acts of covenant-breaking.” The association intends to express their views to a denominational commission that will be appointed to develop a plan that addresses issues of sexuality in the UMC.

“‘A plan that requires traditionalists to compromise their principles and their understandings of Scripture, or that allows for varieties of beliefs and practices within the global communion of the church, isn’t acceptable to most evangelicals,’ said Jeff Greenway, lead pastor of Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio and a member of the WCA’s board of directors.”

The commission’s work is timely:

Oliveto’s election has touched off a crisis in the 12.4 million-member United Methodist Church worldwide, where defiant clergy are refusing to abide by what they regard as unjust prohibitions.

More than 140 LGBT clergy came out in May, according to the Reconciling Ministries Network, a Methodist advocacy group. In addition, 820 Methodist clergy have pledged to officiate same-sex weddings even though church rules prohibit them.

Last May, the General Conference of the UMC declined to vote on proposals to revamp policies, deferring instead to the new commission to find a solution that can pass muster with progressives and conservatives alike. Among the possibilities: repeal policies regarding homosexuality, restructure the church to allow for varying practices or separate into different denominations.

On Wednesday, the Executive Committee of the UMC’s Council of Bishops said it had invited 29 individuals (eight bishops, 13 clergy and eight laity) to join the commission. Invitees were asked to respond within a couple of days. The commission is expected to begin its work later this fall.

Photos: At left, Bishop Oliveto; at right, pastor Jeff Greenway.

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JC Fisher

Schism (and undoubtedly, this is what this is leading to) is always a tragedy---always grieves the heart of Christ.

But 1500 out of 7.2 million US United Methodists (the membership figure the critics cite) really isn't, demographically, too big of a deal.

It's living the GOSPEL---as the UMC is, fitfully, trying to do---which bears fruit. Alleluia!

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John-Julian, OJN

I am reminded of a time in the mid 1970's when liturgy issues were boiling over and inclusion issues arising, and I visited Holy Cross monastery. I asked the superior, "How are all the changes being accepted in OHC?" "Well," he replied, "we'll be fine with a couple more trips to the North Garden." "The North Garden?" I asked. "Yes," he answered, "the North Garden is the monastery's cemetery."

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William Stewart

How true Br.John! Sometimes the needed paradigm shift can only come about as an older generation dies off. I'm a Holy Cross Associate and I smiled reading your comment about my beloved brothers in Prayer and Fellowship.
Bill Stewart (ahc)

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Paul Woodrum

I too was reared a Methodist (a high church Methodist!) and appreciated that denomination's organizational skills and social justice concerns, in my day, strong drink, though I later came to question the side they took.

First semester at a Methodist related college, I found the local Episcopal Church combined a sense of the Holy with social justice and I was hooked. By spring I was confirmed. John and Charles Wesley, priests, never left the Church of England so I rationalized my switch to my parents as a homecoming, something I highly recommend to today's progressive Methodists.

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William Stewart

I feel so blessed to have found a welcome and a home in TEC. I am waiting to be confirmed. These issues are a serious struggle for many Methodist church members. Now is the time to walk alongside your Methodist friends and talk with them about how this bitter struggle is touching their faith. Do them a favor and say;"Come and See". My prayer is that they will find the roots of their Methodist faith in the Episcopal tradition, worship and liturgy . I sure did.

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Michael W. Murphy

I see that our United Methodist sisters and brothers have also failed to prepare the people in the pews for these issues. Our (Episcopal) church failed miserably. We need to return to our Bibles and study them.

The only laws in the Bible given to all of humanity are those laws derived from the Noahide covenant which appears at Gen 9: 3-17. Unfortunately, because this covenant makes human life of infinite value, infinitely remote causation of someone's death (as the confession of sin says: "by what we have done and by what we have left undone") is punishable by death. We have a duty to prevent death.

"Sexual sins" are only punishable when they result in someone's death.

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