After years of stalemate, the United Methodist Church is now inching towards inclusion, with the appointment of a commission of bishops to reassess the rules. This may look like a punt into the long grass, but it could be more. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Methodist bishops are generally more favourable to lgbt inclusion than the laity, and in other denominations, formal investigations or study groups have led to some degree of progress. Also, note that this specifically includes transgender, as well as gay and lesbian.
United Methodist Church to Reassess Rules on Gays and Marriage
After 44 years of debating sexuality issues, the United Methodist Church voted by a narrow margin on Wednesday to allow bishops to appoint a commission to re-evaluate rules on gay, lesbian and transgender clergy and marriage.
The 428-to-405 vote by the delegates to the church’s quadrennial conference in Portland, Ore., was seen by many as a last-ditch effort to save the church from schism.
It was celebrated by L.G.B.T. Methodists and their supporters as a way to buy time and avoid church discipline against more than 100 clergy and clergy candidates who came out as gay in advance of the conference.
But it disappointed many conservatives who were exasperated that their church is still arguing over what they see as clear church teachings that prohibit openly gay and transgender clergy, and same-sex marriage.
Source: – The New York Times
Around the time the Rev. Michael Tupper found himself chasing his windblown tent across half a mile of Iowa grain fields, he might have started questioning his mission from God. God called him, he believes, to sleep in a tent for 175 days to protest the fact that his church does not allow him to perform gay marriages. The temperatures outside his tent – and the reactions from his fellow Methodists – have ranged from warm to sub-freezing. And now, with less than 50 days to go in his sleep-out, his end is i
Source: As United Methodist Church heads toward vote on gay marriage, one pastor stakes his claim – The Washington Post
A regional body of the United Methodist Church announced its plans to ignore denominational rules barring non-celibate homosexuals from ordination.
Source: New York United Methodist Body Says It Will Ignore Church’s Rules on Gay Clergy
Reverend Cynthia Meyer, who has served the United Methodist Church for 25 years, opened up and came out to her church in a sermon this week.
“I’ve really felt led by the Holy Spirit and inspired to take a pretty bold step to be open about who I am in my identity and my relationship,” Rev. Cynthia Meyer of Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, Kansas, said during the sermon.
Source: Human Rights Campaign
In North Carolina, the United Church of Christ has launched a legal challenge to the state ban on gay marriage, because it limits their religious freedom to decide which couples it may bless in marriage.
Also in the South, United Church clergy have joined with Methodist and other religious leaders in a coalition to support gay marriage – because they are Christians, not in spite of it.
Oklahoma faith leaders form coalition supporting marriage equality
More than 50 Oklahoma faith leaders have formed a coalition in support of marriage rights for all couples, whether gay or straight.The Oklahoma Faith Leaders for Marriage group includes leaders of congregations of Mennonites, United Methodists, Unitarians, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ and at least one Baptist minister and two rabbis.
Standing in the sanctuary of Church of the Open Arms, Kenny Wright and Bo Bass are an Oklahoma City gay couple who say they will get married in Oklahoma if the state’s same-sex marriage ban is overturned. Photo by Jim Beckel, The OklahomanThe United Methodist and United Church of Christ denominations have the most coalition representation, with at least eight United Methodist clergy and at least eight United Church of Christ ministers among the faith network’s members.“Expanding marriage equality will finally remove a long-standing obstacle to our pastoral care — and allow us to minister equally to all families in our community,” the coalition said in a statement released after its April launch.
-More at News OK.
In December 2013, Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. Huffington Post reports on a similar case, and other Methodist pastors who are defying church regulations, by conducting same – sex church weddings, or by living openly with a same – sex partner.
Rev. Thomas Ogletree, Another Methodist Pastor, To Be Tried For Presiding At Same Sex Wedding Of Son
The United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son.
The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz, announced Friday. It’s the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships. In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. The church considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference. Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son’s 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.
Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son’s request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legally recognized.
-continue reading at .Huffington Post
A United Methodist minister who was suspended for officiating at his son’s gay marriage said on Monday he will not voluntarily surrender his religious credentials even though he cannot uphold his church’s doctrines on issues relating to same-sex marriage.
A man places a hand on the shoulder of The Rev. Frank Schaefer, as he enters a news conference at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A North Carolina Methodist church has gone rogue on the issue of same-sex marriage and will hold no marriages until the state and its denominational leadership will let it marry same-sex couples
17 MARCH 2013 | BY ANDREW POTTS
A United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has gone rogue on the issue of same-sex marriage – telling the state and the United Methodist Church leadership that it will not perform marriages until its pastors are allowed to marry all couples.
Winston-Salem’s Green Street United Methodist Church (UMC) issued a statement yesterday in which the church’s leadership council confirmed their support of same-sex marriage and that the council had asked their ministers to join other dissenting clergy in the US who were refusing to sign marriage licenses until same-sex couples could legally wed.
‘On the matter of same-sex marriage, Green Street UMC sees injustice in the legal position of state government and the theological position of our denomination,’ a statement on behalf of the leadership council read.
‘North Carolina prohibits same-sex marriage and all the rights and privileges marriage brings. The Leadership Council has asked that their ministers join others who refuse to sign any State marriage licenses until this right is granted to same- sex couples.’
‘Because the United Methodist Church prohibits its pastors from conducting same- sex weddings, excluding gay and lesbian couples from the holy sacrament of marriage, the Leadership Council has asked the pastor to refrain from conducting wedding ceremonies in our sanctuary for straight couples, until the denomination lifts its ban for same-sex couples.’
Green Street United Methodist Church is part of the LGBT friendly Reconciling Ministries network within the United Methodist Church and the only Reconciling Congregation in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church
continue reading at Gay Star News.