United Methodists Repeal Ban On LGBT Clergy

 The United Methodist church has lifted its four-decade ban on LGBT clergy members.

On Wednesday with no debate, church delegates repealed a ban prohibiting “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being ordained or appointed as ministers.

Delegates voted 692-51 at their first General Conference in five years, a sharp contrast to previous conferences, which have upheld the ban.

The ban was initially introduced in 1984.

Penalties for celebrating same-sex marriages were also overturned. The United Methodist church had previously put performing same-sex unions on a list of offenses that could result in a church trial.

The General Conference was held at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Many LGBT supporters in attendance at the conference reacted emotionally, hugging and crying at the decision, according to United Methodist News. Applause also broke out after the vote.

“New every day is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world,” prayed retired Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan War. “Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all creation, and to devote this day to your service.”


Also in attendance was Methodist Bishop Karen Oliveto, the church’s first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church.

“It seemed like such a simple vote, but it carried so much weight and power, as 50 years of restricting the Holy Spirit’s call on people’s lives has been lifted,” Oliveto said. “People can live fully into their call without fear. The church we’ve loved has found a home for us.”

“We’ve been going on like this since the ’70s and, finally, in just a brief few minutes with no debate, it was gone. And now we can get on about the business of the church,” said Marilyn Murphy, an observer from the South Carolina Conference.

“I did tear up this morning at the announcement of the vote because it was just a huge relief to see justice had been done after so many years,” said Matt Patrick, co-pastor at the University United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “There’s just been a lot of pain in order to get us to this place.”

Conservatives in both the Methodist Church, as well as the Episcopal and the Evangelical Lutheran Churches have objected to the move toward LGBT clergy. Some have even broken away to form their own denominations in response.

“This is certainly the lightning rod issue, the presenting issue, but our division goes so much deeper,” said Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, a Methodist traditionalist caucus.

“As the church becomes more and more liberal, and if a social agenda becomes its driving force, that’s not going to grow the church,” Renfroe said.

In recent years, many Christian churches have moved in a progressive direction, including on LGBT issues.

Speculation has swirled about whether the Catholic Church would change its positions on issues like women clergy, contraception, gay marriage, and gender ideology, but the church has never changed its official doctrine.

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