On Saturday, the 12.7-million-strong United Methodist Church held a vote to decide its stance toward homosexuality in leadership.
‘Til present time, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have been disallowed from being ordained as ministers, given that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
But now’s the chance to redefine Christian teaching, it seems, and that was granted by a Special Session of the General Conference in St. Louis.
It wasn’t the organization’s first move on considerations of homosexuality: In 2016, the church’s General Conference created the Commission on a Way Forward, the purpose of which was to perform a “complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the (UMC governing document) Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.”
As reported by UM News, the CWF proposed three possible paths. These, along with two others, are broken down (courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign) below. These are the five plans upon which the Special Session was set to vote:
- One Church Plan: Recommended by the Council of Bishops, it would affirm that unity and mission are more important than disagreements, and allow individual churches and conferences within the UMC to choose their own path of LGBTQ inclusion while remaining in the church.
- Connectional Conferences Model: This plan, considered by the Council of Bishops, would keep a unified core institution and one Council while creating separate branches of the UMC, which would define accountability, context and justice regarding LGBTQ inclusion for themselves.
- Traditionalist Model: This is not recommended by the Council of Bishops, and would keep current Book of Discipline language that states the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” and maintain — and, potentially, make more strict — punishment for those who stray from following the language of the Book of Discipline that limits inclusion of the LGBTQ faithful.
- The Simple Plan: This plan follows the UMC tradition of “do no harm,” removing harmful anti-LGBTQ language and allowing all to be full participants in the Church.
- The Gracious Exit Proposal: This plan asks for a vote on an exit plan to be taken before all other votes, and would allow conferences and churches to leave the UMC.
The result of the vote isn’t expected to come until Monday. Obviously, it may very well result in many churches splitting from the UMC.
This, of course, is by no means the only appearance of Christianity and homosexuality in the news recently. For other stories, see issues of liberty here, here, and here, as well as the Episcopal Church’s eyeing of a sex change for God here.
What do you think of this vote? Are you Methodist? Will you leave the church if the Simple Plan is followed? Please share your thoughts and feelings in the Comments section below.
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