2019-FEB-26: Delegates at the 2019 General Conference in St, Louis, MO vote to continue the same-sex marriage ban:
Delegates to the Conference voted on two measures related to sexual orientation, They chose to implement the "Traditional Plan" which preserves the current ban on same-sex marriages and ordaination of sexually active homosexuals. They rejected the "One Church Plan" which would have allowed individual pastors to decide to marry same-sex couples and/or ordain practicing homosexuals. The vote was very close: 53.3% to 46.7%.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, described the decision. He said it was:
"Not only surprising [but] stunning. It should give hope to all biblically-minded Christians, and it should remind all of us of what we must always clearly see; and that is that there is no way for any church or congregation to move ahead in two contradictory directions at once. Eventually the choice comes down to faithfulness to the Scriptures or the abandonment of the Scriptures.. When it comes to the clear teachings of Scripture, there really is no middle ground and that's not just true for the Methodists."
There are about 20 biblical passages that have been interpreted as banning same-sex behavior; six of them are frequently cited by conservative Christians.
John Lomperis, the United Methodist director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), referred to "deep divides" in the UMC. He said:
"It was particularly odd to see liberal leaders call evangelical United Methodists hateful, 'a bunch of evil folks,' and all kinds of names, and then at the same time see these same liberal leaders promote their primary liberal plan as reflecting their desire for 'we're better together' unity with us, There was plenty of loud, angry protesting. So much hurt all around. It was a rather stressful day."
Council of Bishops President Kenneth Carter commented during a National Public Radio interview broadcast on FEB-27:
"It is deeply disappointing and it's our struggle. In the U.S., we mirror the fragmentation of our culture and the polarization of our culture."
The Associated Press reported that about 43 percent of Conference delegates were from outside the U.S. Most are believed to have voted against equality. With the present rate at which the church membership in the U.S. is liberalizing their beliefs towards persons with a homosexual or bisexual ordination, the U.S. delegates will probably support any similar vote more strongly at future Conferences, However, the UMC membership in the U.S. is in decline, even as the membership in Africa -- which favors discrimination against homosexuals -- is growing. It might be a long battle before the One Church Plan passes at a future General Conference. 8
Some Methodist churches across the U.S. posted creative signs to express their displeasure at the General Conference decision. For example:
The North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, IM displayed six multiple color doors with the message: "GOD'S DOORS ARE OPEN TO ALL.
The Sunday School children at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven, CT made a welcome mat in LGBTcolors.
The First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge in IL obscured the word "United" in their sign with a rainbow covering.
The Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, OH, wrote on their sign, "No matter what the denomination says, God loves you. We do too."
The Smoky Hill United Methodist Church in Centennial, CO posted a message on their sign: "Love is Inclusive. ALL are Welcome."
The First United Methodist Church in Duluth, MN posted a sign: "A Place For All. NO EXCEPTIONS."
The Dayspring United Methodist Church in Tempe, AZ covered up the words "United Methodist Church" on their sign with a sheet reading "OPEN HEARTS, OPEN MINDS, OPEN DOORS."
The Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, FL, took out an an ad in the local newspaper, saying:
"Today the people of Allendale took out a full page ad: a love letter to the LGBTQIA community to say we are sorry and to vow to make this right.
We fully realize some people will need to leave this abusive denomination, and we honor that decision. But if you want to stay and resist evil, injustice, and oppression alongside us, we need you. Despite discriminatory church law, our wedding altar and pulpit is open to ALL called to marriage and ministry."
Nine members of the Greenland Hills United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX prepared and hung five multi-colored banners saying: "WE STAY TO STAND WITH OUR LGBTQ FAMILY."
The Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas, posted a message on their church sign with the message "NO MATTER WHAT THE DENOMINATION SAYS, WE SAY ALL MEANS ALL."
The Lakewood United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX, posted a sign saying: "Affirming, Inclusive, Embracing Love, Exploring Faith." They also covered up two words on their church sign, so that it read "Lakewood Church." They also issued a statement saying:
"Lakewood United Methodist Church embraces the concept of Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. We affirm that ALL PEOPLE are created in the image of God and, as beloved children of God, are worthy of God's love and grace. Our faith moves us to welcome ALL PERSONS of every age, gender identity, racial or ethnic background, sexual orientation, marital or socio-economic status, physical or mental ability to FULL PARTICIPATION IN OUR FAITH COMMUNITY. We invite ALL PEOPLE in our journey toward greater understanding and mutual respect and reconciliation through Christ." 10
2019-FEB-26: Acceptance of homosexuality among UMC members:
Michael Lipka, writing for the Pew Research Center, predicts a grim future for the United Methodist Church, at least in the U.S. He wrote:
"After years of debate, United Methodist Church leaders voted this week to reaffirm the denomination’s opposition to same-sex marriages and openly gay clergy. As a result, many of the more liberal-leaning congregations are expected to leave the denomination, amounting to a schism in America’s largest mainline Protestant church."
If "many" congregations formally leave the UMC over this matter, then many more congregations will experience a significant loss in membership, thus weakening the denomination significantly.
He reported that the Center found the percentage of UMC members who say homosexuality should be accepted rose from 51% in 2007 to 60% in 2014; those who say homosexuality should be discourage dropped from 39% to 32%. Meanwhile, 49% -- a plurality of members -- favor same-sex marriage while 43% are opposed.
There is a major difference in the acceptance of homosexuality between women and men in the UMC. 62% of women are accepting; 38% of men. 8.9