"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." Jimmy
Creech, 1999-NOV, on the eve of his trial for conducting a same-sex union
ceremony. (He was found guilty.)
"The church is not of one mind. I expect this issue to continue to be raised until society comes to terms
with it." Bishop Elias Galvan after the acquittal of Karan Dammann in 2004-MAR.
With a membership of about 9 million, the United Methodist Church (UMC)
is the third largest Christian denomination in the U.S., after the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist
Convention. It is in a state of conflict over homosexuality. Its Book
of Discipline declares homosexual behavior to be "incompatible to
Christian teachings." Gays and lesbians are acceptable for ordination,
but must remain celibate or risk being fired. However, the church's social
principles support equal rights and liberties for homosexuals, including the
right to not be fired from a job because of their sexual orientation, or
Serious splits have become visible in the denomination, between young and
elderly church members, between conservative and liberal members of
individual congregations, between rural and urban congregations, and between
conservative and liberal regions of the U.S.
A number of UMC ministers have run afoul of the "don't ask, don't tell"
policy of the church by revealing their committed same-sex relationship.
Others have conducted church rituals recognizing the relationships of loving, committed same-sex couples.