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Church conflicts over homosexuality


The United Methodist Church
(UMC) and Homosexuality:

horizontal rule


bullet " “... the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Statement in the United Methodist Church's (UMC) Book of Discipline. 1972 to at least mid-2018). The book also prohibits its ministers from solemnizing same-sex marriages.
bullet "If I am found guilty by a trial court, then the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church is in conflict with the Gospel. It is arrogance on the part of the church to elevate some people's relationship with God, while denigrating that of others on the basis of innate sexuality." Statement by Jimmy Creech, 1999-NOV, on the eve of his trial for conducting a same-sex union ceremony.
bullet " annual conference board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality." 2004 General Conference resolution' narrowly passed by a vote of 497 to 418.


"Go back 150 years and you'll find good Christians arguing on behalf of slavery, offering all sorts of biblical justifications. Go back a few years, and churches, including the Southern Baptists, argued against ordaining women. Not just time changes, but people change. I honestly believe God is doing something new here." Mike Underhill, director of program ministries at Bering Memorial United Methodist Church, Houston, TX, 2005-FEB-12. (Actually, the Southern Baptists have since partly reversed their acceptance of female clergy.)

bullet "Some minds and hearts are not open to the great diversity of humankind -- diversity created by God. God is all loving and merciful and cares a great deal for justice. I have trouble understanding this discrimination that causes so much hurt and pain for people who are gay and lesbian." Rev. Marilyn Meeker-Williams, senior pastor of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church, Houston, TX, 2005-FEB-12. 1

bullet "I was inspired by Dr. King during my participation in the Civil Rights Movement when he said that an unjust law is no law. These are unjust laws, and therefore they do not really have the authority of law, even though technically they are established in the discipline." Rev. Tom Ogletree, retired dean of Yale Divinity School, was commenting on the ban on same-sex marriages by UMC ministers. 2

bullet "We can't all be a community and just decide that some laws are ones that appeal to us, others we think are unreasonable and we can go do whatever we want to without there being some kind of repercussions." Rev. Rob Renfroe, Woodland United Methodist Church. 2

bullet "We have basically found a way around the paralysis that’s caused by the church’s requirement to discriminate, which is we’re just not discriminating anymore. What the church does through its discrimination and prejudice has a wider effect. It gives moral cover to people who vote against us in legislatures; it gives moral cover to queer bashers who bash us in back alleys, so the effect is huge. ... You sit in the pew. You’re not allowed to get married there, you’re not maybe not even be a member there. What are you learning about yourself that God supposedly thinks about you and certainly that your fellow churchgoers and leaders think about you? That’s a terrible message." Dorothee Benz, director of Methodists in New Directions. 2

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The United Methodist Church (UMC) was formed in 1968 as the result of a Merger by The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. As of 2018 indicates that:

  • UMC congregations number about 32,000 in the U.S., and 12,000 in other countries.

  • The UMC has over 7 million members in the U.S. and almost 6 million elsewhere. 3

By 2018, research scientists determined that a homosexual orientation is determined before a person's birth by epigenetics. That is a layer on top of a person's DNA that enables and disables various DNA genes. Human sexuality researchers, mental health professional organizations and the memberships of liberal Christian denominations in the U.S. have largely accepted homosexuality as simply another normal and natural sexual orientation. Conservative denominations have retained the historical Christian interpretation of certain Bible passages which condemn all same-gender sexual behavior and strongly opposes sexually-active same-sex relationships including what are referred to as "gay marriages" between two persons of the same sex.

The UMC is a mainline denomination with a major division among the membership and clergy between liberal and conservative Christians This has caused massive debate and distress in recent years, and occasionally a little constructive dialogue. Various fault lines have opened up, mainly geographical and age-related.

Of all of the Christian denominations in the United States, the Episcopal Church (USA), the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the UMC have probably experienced the greatest amount of conflict over the movement towards equally rights for its lesbian, gay and bisexual members and the LGBT community generally.

Topics covered in this section:

bullet Overview: (The UMC. The Book of Discipline. Is a future church split likely? Author's comments)
bulletGay-positive and negative groups in the UMC

Decisions by United Methodist General Conferences and Church courts

bulletChurch trials: (Rose Mary Denman, Jimmy Creech, Gregory Dell, Mark Williams, Karen Dammann...)
bulletA letter campaign in support of Jimmy Creech
bulletRev. Dawson Taylor's personal story

Activity by various UMC groups:

bulletWithin mainline denominations, is compromise possible, or is schism inevitable? An examination of the homosexual conflict in various Christian denominations

Reference used:

  1. Todd Ackerman, "Local gay, lesbian couples wed in mass ceremony," Houston Chronicle, 2005-FEB-12, at:
  2. "Methodist Gay Marriage," Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, broadcast on 2013-SEP-20, at:
  3. United Methodists at a Glance, the UMC church, 2018, at:

Site navigation:

 Home page > Christianity > Mainline Christian conflicts > here

or Home page > Conflict > Homosexuality > Churches > here

Copyright © 1997 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2018-MAY-10
Author: B.A. Robinson
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