As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
111 United Methodist Church leaders in the USA come out as “Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning and Intersex” and sign a letter asking for full recognition just before the General Conference in Portland (Oregon).
In an open letter to The United Methodist Church (UMC) in the USA, 111 leaders of the denomination (most of them, local pastors) came out as “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex persons.”
On Monday, the day before the UMC General Conference started in Portland (Oregon), the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) published a letter which had a big impact in the denomination and had great media coverage.
The conference meets once every 4 years, and “can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.”
LGBT: “CONDEMNATION FROM THE PULPITS”
The letter accuses the Wesleyan denomination: “You have required that we not bring our full selves to ministry, that we hide from view our sexual orientations and gender identities.”
They add: “You cannot legislate against God’s call. The ‘LGBTQI issue’ is not one that can be resolved through restrictive legislation but instead by seeing that all persons are made in the image of God and welcomed into the community of faith.”
The dozens of LGBTI leaders signing the letter also refer to “young people” in the Methodist churches that “are more at risk for suicide than their peers, in part, because of the condemnation they hear from the pulpits and pews of their churches.”
“Dear church, our prayers are with you, with all of us, in the coming days. May we all be surprised by the Spirit who continues to breathe new life in unexpected ways.”
The “LGBTQI” group hopes their “simple plan” will be adopted. It asks to “remove institutional-level mandates that prohibit equal treatment of LGBTQ persons who are called to ordained ministry.”
Meanwhile, the RMS is encouraging Methodist leaders to “open your church to same-sex weddings.”
In a statement sent to Christian Today, President of the UMC Council of Bishops, Bishop Warner Brown Jr., said: “The United Methodist Church affirms that all people are of sacred worth and welcomes all people into its congregations. Legislation before General Conference will consider the denomination's stance on the ordination of clergy who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other orientations.”
THE CASE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH USA
The pressure to change the Christian definition of marriage and to redefine sexual ethics is not new among Protestant movements in the USA.
In January, the Anglican Communion suspended the Episcopal Church USA after it became clear that the “change in their Canon on marriage represents a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Anglican Provinces on the doctrine of marriage.”