United Methodists gather at Grove City to find unity as showdown looms on gay issues
Excerpts from the Monday, June 11, 2018 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A showdown is set for February 2019, when United Methodist delegates from throughout the world meet in St. Louis in a rare special convention. They will vote on a compromise their bishops are presenting.
The bishops’ so-called “One Church Plan” would remove long-standing language from the church’s Book of Discipline that bans “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” from ordination. It would instead give Methodists in the U.S. a local option on such questions.
Under the proposal, recommended by an overwhelming vote of the worldwide denomination’s bishops, each pastor in the American church could decide whether to preside at a same-sex wedding; each congregation could decide whether to host one; each board of ministry could decide whether to recommend an openly gay person for ordination; and churches or congregations conflicted on the issue wouldn’t be forced to take a side, according to a summary presented by conference Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi.
The overseas jurisdictions of the church would be able set their own rules based on their own cultural contexts. These include large and typically conservative churches in Africa, where in some countries homosexual activity is illegal.
Western Pennsylvania clergy already have engaged in various dialogue sessions that give a preview of what’s at stake…
In interviews before and during the conference, local Methodists agreed the church will face change of some kind in February 2019.
Efforts to repeal the current discipline have repeatedly failed at the once-every-four-year General Conventions by increasingly firm margins, largely on the strength of the large numbers of delegates from conservative African churches.
But some liberal U.S. conferences are installing openly gay pastors and one bishop in defiance of church law.
Those supporting the current language in the Book of Discipline say it reflects the church’s traditional understanding of the Bible…
Peter Smith: email@example.com or 412-263-1416; Twitter @PG_PeterSmith.