The United Methodist Church has been my church since birth. If truth be known it has been my church since before birth as my father and grandfather were both in ministry in the Methodist and then the United Methodist Church. My sister is also an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and I was on the staff of a United Methodist Church for 5 years.
While I do not typically write about controversial topics or sensitive issues on It’s Just Life many of my readers know of my relationship with the United Methodist Church and have asked me “What do you think? Where do you stand?” so I decided that I would devote one blog post to just that.
I do not have answers.
If you are not aware of what happened with our denomination this week there was a Special Session of the General Conference held in St. Louis to specifically examine paragraphs in our Book of Discipline that concern human sexuality. It has been a hot topic for so many years and this attempt to act on a report from the Commission on the Way Forward and bring unity to our denomination.
What happened was inevitable. Perhaps not the outcome but that sides would be taken, differences aired and lines drawn. The vote for the Traditional Plan passed as amended, which affirms the church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage. The vote was 438 Yes 384 No.
So what do I think?
I was a little surprised quite honestly.
Given that the United Methodist Church is global and not just a North American church it kind of makes sense that it went this way. There are many countries (Africa, Russia, etc.) who are not as accepting of homosexuality as our nation. As a global entity each delegate represented from our vast denomination had a voice.
But I do not think it is as simple as the Yes No vote. I have not seen the exact words that were voted on and passed. As I understand it there were amendments and perhaps some wording that was included is not even legal. I don’t know. There is much to be researched and talked about still. This is not over. I look forward to being able to understand exactly what passed and what it actually means. I also am reading this vote as not embracing ordination or performing same sex marriages. That does not mean not embracing those who have a different sexual lifestyle and welcoming them into our fellowship. However I can totally understand how those same people would not feel welcome. It is so much more complicated than it appears on the surface, isn’t it?
What I have seen in the media so far has been just a part of the story with inflamed headlines. I don’t think I have the true story yet. I look forward to that and to further discussion and understanding. I still do not believe it is a black and white situation at all. I do not pretend to understand this at all. I don’t . I wish I did. I wish I felt like I had a clear sense but at this point I don’t.
So what do I know?
I know that John Wesley who was the founder of our denomination was a proponent of social justice. The denomination addresses issues of social justice at every turn. Which is why many feel that this recent vote is controversial.
What I do know is that we are instructed to love one another. How each person chooses to live that out is in their own control. I choose to share love with all. I don’t care who you are or how you live your life. You are loved. There is so much I do not understand but I hope that I am open to understanding. That is my prayer.
I also know that God is not finished with our denomination yet. I know that there is strife and incredible pain and hurt within our ranks and it has been there for years. We do not always agree on every single thing but I still believe that God is there before us and leads each of us to our own understanding of what our beliefs are. It is a time to turn to God, to turn to one another and to work together instead of against one another. It is the time to be unified and not separated.
If you want to learn more about the Special Session and the United Methodist Church I would suggest going directly to their website by clicking here or on the UM News website here. More details will be unfolding as the weeks pass and I am prayerfully considering what this means to me.
All respectful comments are welcome.