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United Methodist Church revises LGBTQ policy: What’s new?

Key Points:

  • The United Methodist Church has repealed its longstanding ban on LGBTQ clergy, allowing for their ordination without prohibitive rules.
  • The change reflects a shift towards progressive values in the church, especially after the departure of many conservative members.
  • Additional measures approved include protections for clergy who perform same-sex marriages.

The United Methodist Church has made a significant shift in its policy by repealing a longstanding ban on LGBTQ clergy, allowing individuals who identify as such to be ordained as ministers without the previous prohibitions. This decision was made at the General Conference, the church’s first legislative gathering in five years, where the vote passed overwhelmingly with a 692-51 margin.

This move signifies a major change from the past when the church had actively reinforced such bans amidst heated debates and protests. The change, effective immediately at the conference’s conclusion, does not mandate the ordination of LGBTQ clergy but removes the formal barriers that prevented it.

The policy update is primarily expected to affect U.S. churches due to differing regulations in international branches, like those in Africa. Additionally, the conference saw the passage of measures protecting clergy who perform or opt not to perform same-sex marriages, further indicating a shift towards more inclusive church policies.

AP reports:

United Methodist delegates repealed their church’s longstanding ban on LGBTQ clergy with no debate on Wednesday, removing a rule forbidding ‘self-avowed practicing homosexuals’ from being ordained or appointed as ministers.

Delegates voted 692-51 at their General Conference — the first such legislative gathering in five years. That overwhelming margin contrasts sharply with the decades of controversy around the issue. Past General Conferences of the United Methodist Church had steadily reinforced the ban and related penalties amid debate and protests, but many of the conservatives who had previously upheld the ban have left the denomination in recent years, and this General Conference has moved in a solidly progressive direction.

Read the full article.

Themes Pros Cons
Inclusivity Promotes equality and acceptance within the church. May cause division in more conservative areas.
Administrative Change Streamlines processes and reduces contentious debates. Potential backlash from traditional factions.
Global Church Unity Allows regional adaptations to fit cultural norms. Risks fragmentation of global church unity.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How will this decision impact the unity of the global United Methodist Church?
  2. What are the potential long-term effects on church growth in regions with conservative views towards LGBTQ issues?
  3. How might this change influence the relationship between U.S. churches and their international counterparts?

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